confessions of a design geek :: the best of 2013
Katie | December 23, 2013
2013 has been a year of incredible highs and some fairly massive personal lows. It was a year in which my career choice has enabled me to be there for my family, for which I’m really grateful. And it’s also the second year I’ve been able to make a living doing what I love. But I want to make sure I remember the highs and take a moment to be grateful for them and to be proud of what I’ve achieved – something I’m often not very good at – so I’ve decided to make this year’s last post a round-up of 2013’s best bits, much like I did last year. (It’s only when I write these posts that I actually realise what I’ve achieved in a year, so I highly recommend it – even if you don’t have a blog.)
In January I worked my last week as the in-house copywriter for Maggie’s, a charity that uses design and architecture to enable a programme of support for people with cancer and their families and friends. I spent almost a year working 2.5 days a week in this role and it was both an honour and a privilege to tell the stories of some of the bravest people I have ever met. And I’m still working with Maggie’s on a freelance basis.
I went to Maison et Objet under my own steam with the lovely Zoe Brewer. I was also chosen to go on my second BlogTour, this time to IMM Cologne, with a day trip to Amsterdam, where I got to hang out with the fellow design journalist Stacey Sheppard and met the fabulous interior designers Tina Ramchandani and Sarah Sarna.
In February, I was chuffed to bits to be invited by the Swedish Embassy to Stockholm Design Week alongside Elle Decoration and Yatzer – good company indeed! I’m a huge fan of the Stockholm Furniture Fair, especially Greenhouse – a huge showcase of student and graduate design. It was also fab to see the guys from Note Design Studio and to meet Fredrik and Emma aka Färg & Blanche.
In March I contributed the 26 miles project. Each writer was given one mile of the marathon and asked to represent it in words and supplement their words with sound or images. I created a short piece using words borrowed from speeches given by the people remembered in statues along mile 25-26. I hand lettered some of the quotes and even created a voice recording for people to listen to. You can see it here. I am very grateful to 26 for the opportunity to stretch my creative writing muscles and for introducing me to a mind-blowing writing mentor who is quietly changing my life!
April was Milan Design Week and I was very lucky to be there in my role as Editor at Large for the wonderful American design blog, Design Milk. Editor Jaime Derringer gave me my first big break as a design writer when she asked me to cover the London Design Festival for Design Milk in 2011 and I’ve been covering all the European trade shows for her ever since. I went with the fabulous Jenny Voyce and Daniel Nelson and we had a ball! I published my first online magazine, the Milan Design Review, as soon as I got home. I am very grateful to Kyla McCallum for teaching me how to use In Design (Please forgive my shaky skills in this one, it was my first attempt!)
In May, I founded We Blog Design with Stacey Sheppard and Daniel Nelson (later to be replaced by Yeshen Venema), an independent network that informs, inspires and connects design bloggers. We had a tremendous response – our launch event was standing room only, and we held it in a chair showroom, so there wasn’t exactly a shortage of seats! In the end we all found it too much on top of everything else we do, but it was an incredible experience through which we met some really lovely bloggers and all learnt a lot.
I published another online magazine, the May Design Review, covering Pulse, Clerkenwell Design Week and the May Design Series. (My In Design skills are still shaky at this point, but slowly improving!)
In June, I spent an awful lot of time at graduate shows on the hunt for the best of 2013’s graduate design talent for BRINK, my curation at Tent London. I also learnt how to use Illustrator, so a massive thank you to Tim Brown for his help with that.
In July, I continued to write for the D&AD (thank you Luc Benyon!) – and I continued to work with the wonderfully talented interiors photographer Bruce Hemming on house features for interior design magazines – we shot one of my favourite houses to date, which belongs to interior designer Daisy Riordan, for Period Living magazine. And I finally got around to creating a separate website for my freelance work, so you can read more about what I do when I’m not blogging here.
In August, confessions of a design geek won the Bloghome By The Baltic Sea competition run by Visit Finland, as the blog chosen to represent design and architecture – which meant I got to spend an amazing long weekend in Helsinki and the archipelago. A dream come true for a Scandiphile like me and it goes without saying that this experience is going on my things to be grateful for in 2013 list!
September is of course London Design Festival. I worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life and barely sat down, let alone slept, but I’m incredibly proud to say that I produced BRINK, a curation of 2013’s graduate design talent at Tent London, I published two films – one about Tent London and one about designjunction, and I wrote, designed and published the London Design Review, a 60-page review of the whole show. I certainly didn’t do all of that on my own, so heartfelt thanks must go to Jimmy, Megan and Rebecca at Tent, Zoe Brewer, Jo Robinson, Adam Hollier, Yeshen Venema, Rebekah O’Carroll, Jaime Derringer and airbnb, and Richard and Aaron at R&A Collaborations.
You’d think that after all that, October might have been about sleeping, but Dutch Design Week beckoned, so I headed off to Eindhoven with Daniel Nelson, to cover it for Design Milk, We Heart and of course, confessions of a design geek. The Design Academy Eindhoven graduate show was incredible and we created a film while we were there and I think we got it live before any other UK website! Thanks again to Daniel and Jaime, and to James and Lisa at We Heart.
November was slated to be Tokyo Design Week, but when my trip was cancelled I can’t say I wasn’t a little bit relieved to be able to spend a rainy fortnight without internet access in Cornwall instead!
Refreshed and revitalised, I launched the 2014 confessions of a design geek bursary when I got back. I am so proud and incredibly grateful to say that everybody I asked to be involved said yes and between us we created an incredible bursary worth £10,000! Fanny Shorter won a stand at Home London with bespoke wall coverings from wallunica, her products stocked in the Southbank Centre Shop and included in the window display, a photo shoot, a film shoot, one year’s Design Trust Business Club membership, and mentoring from: Head of Buying at The Southbank Centre Shop, Adam Thow; David Gorrod, Seen PR; Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire, Mini Moderns; winner of Best Stand at Home 2013, Jo Robinson, HAM; Justyna Sowa, Decorum; Daniel Nelson, October Communications; Director of The Design Trust, Patricia van den Akker and 2013′s winner Jessica Hogarth. A huge thank you to everyone involved.
And following a quarter’s worth of deadlines all falling on November 30th(!), December has been quiet – at least by my standards! I gave my first university guest lectures at Regent’s University and London College of Communications (LCC). I auctioned off all my press freebies from the past two years to raise money for Maggie’s Dundee. And I achieved a life-long personal ambition of actually slowing down enough to enjoy the Christmas preparation this year!
I hope you can find a moment to reflect on what you’ve achieved this year too – I bet it’s more than you think. I’m signing off now until Thursday 2nd January 2014, but before I go, two last thank yous: one to all the incredible new designers who make this so much fun, and one to all you lovely people – your support and feedback makes the hard work worthwhile! Happy Christmas and all the best for a delightfully geeky 2014.
Thank you to Present&Correct for the image of the Olivetti Valentine.