A bunch of work experience students, aka the Press Gang, were set a challenge over the holidays. The 11 students, who had not worked together before were given a brief to find out what was happening behind the scenes at the Brixton Design Trail and to interview some of the artists and designers taking part. Their base for the week was the Brixton Pound Café.
Our reporters are: Juliana Adenegha, David Adeyinka, Finn Allott, George Bakare, Leone Conteh, Nesa Depeza Njie, Stefania Florea, Matine Mbenzivo, Chantal Millen Mfumu, Melanie Rodrigues-Silva.
The idea was the brain child of Abigail Melville, founder of social enterprise Raw Talent and supported through the Pound’s Brixton Fund. Abigail provided the mentoring, Brixton Design Trail set up the interviews and the Bugle’s Linda Quinn and Olivia Cheves coached the students. Their interview are below.
Derelict to Divine, nature inspired architecture
Mak Gilchrist, Incredible Bus Stop | Project: Take A Seat
Interview and image: Matine, David, Nésa and Leone
Edible Bus Stop specialise in making “urban interventions” that founding director Mak Gilchrist (above left with Press Gang interviewers) describes as “quite playful, quite mischievous but always planted”.
Edible Bus Stop will be renovating public seating in a project called Take A Seat which will see public seating throughout central Brixton being transformed with a “Razzle Dazzle” pattern.
This is a camouflage technique used on submarines and ships in WW1. The aim of the project is to encourage a wider variety of people to use public seating and to reduce the anti-social behaviour often associated with it.
A deeper meaning
Kids Kreate | Project Seeds of Love
Interview: Nésa and Stefania
Jackie Keane is the founder of Kids Kreate, an organisation that provides free art classes for 5-12 year olds at Pop Brixton. Working around the Love Is Power theme, they will be producing a mini-installation that includes haikus (a very short traditional Japanese poem) and “Seeds of Love” packets.
“We’ll be working with the plants,” explains Jackie. “We’re making seed packets with seeds of love in each one – all different kinds of love.”
Jackie feels that Love Is Power has a deeper meaning beyond one word, it is the “ability to believe that you can do something even when you don’t know how. It can’t just be friendship or family, or a hug, or an ice cream. It is really powerful and it can change a huge amount of things.”
A smile on your face
Emy Gray, Brixi | Project: Design Circus
Interview: Melanie, Stefania and Edie
Emy says the Brixton Design Trail “is a great opportunity for Brixton” as it makes people aware of “the amount of talent tucked away” and creativity amongst the design community.
She chose the circus theme as, “it’s so visually rich, and what you can do with a circus theme is so much fun.”
She explains what Love is Power means to her: “In terms of all the turmoil that’s been going on politically, emotionally and culturally, love has the power to unite and conquer. It’s appropriate for Brixton, Brixton is such a loving and inclusive neighbourhood. When you leave your house there is always something to put a smile on your face. It’s a powerful thing.”
Stories from the community
Variant Office | Project: Lovers’ Telephone
Interview: Leone, Matine and Juliana
Lover’s Telephone is a multi-sensory installation occupying the stairway of Brixton Community Base in Talma Road. Visitors will be encouraged both to listen and record their own oral histories of Brixton.
The name Lover’s Telephone is another name for the “tin-can telephone”, that both engages with the historic building, animates the interwoven stories and encourages the recording of new stories from the community and visitors, engaging directly with the theme of of this year’s BDT.
Plywood shells will be hung in the stairway. Some will house looped audio accounts of Brixtonians from the Windrush Generation (as part of the Vintage Voices project by Sixteen Feet Productions), while others will house projections of short films and other immersive dioramas of Brixton created by architectural firm Variant Office.
Peace in a bustling market
Bharat & Jean | Project The Silent Arch
Picture Edie. Interview: Finn and George
Brixton-based designers Bharat & Jean are creating a large colourful arch made of interlocking soundproof joints to be placed in the heart of Brixton Market.
The Silent Arch will muffle and silence the vibrant bustle of the Market providing an introspective area for reflection amidst the stalls.
Bharat & Jean’s main inspiration for their Arch stems from the local railway arches and the recent evictions of traders from their shops in the arches. The iconic shape of the arches is recreated in the installation, creating a connection with the local businesses and protesting corporate takeover.
Love Is Power is expressed through the shared strength of community. Bharat & Jean want the silent arch to contribute to the energetic Brixton community, fitting into the brilliant colours of the market with bright oranges and blues covering the piece.
Fashion for the streets
Livity | Project: Love Fashion Power House
Interview: Melanie, Stefania and Edie
Youth-led creative network Livity’s project for the Design Trail is “Love Fashion Power House” Gillian Jackson (below, right with colleague Aishat Ola-Said) explains: “Love Fashion Power House is a pop-up shop by a collective of local young artists and creatives that have teamed up with Livity.”
The project will take place at Brixton Pound Café and brings a week of fashion-inspired workshops, talks and exhibitions exploring the theme of Love is Power.
Gillian says: “Young people will produce work, and the project will culminate in a fashion show bringing fashion to the streets of Brixton.”
A place of unification
Eley Kishimoto and Phil Dolman | Project: Open Borders
Interview: Finn, George and Chantal
The Open Borders project created for Brixton Design Trail is a huge work of art surrounding the borders of Brixton with brightly coloured “Flash Crossings”.
Its purpose is to define the borders of Brixton and to welcome visitors rather than push them away.
But the Open Borders project looks to be their largest and most ambitious undertaking yet.
The inspiration for the projects stems from key recent events such as Brexit and President Trump’s plan to build a wall across the Mexican border wall. Open Borders is designed to do the opposite – to open Brixton up as a welcoming and inclusive place.
“With so many things dividing us,” says Phil Dolman, “I wanted to show that Brixton is a place of unification and a home to all.”