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A project with Fine Cell Work for London Design Festival 2016

London Design Festival 2016
17th - 25th September
Private View - Tuesday 20th September, 6 - 8:30pm

Available in-store and online

We originally came across Fine Cell Work, a social enterprise that trains prisoners in paid, skilled, creative needlework in 2014, when Rheanna visited an exhibition of quilts entitled "Things To Do In Bed" (read her blog post here). We have followed their work since then and in early 2016 embarked on a collaboration for London Design Festival 2016. This page will track the progress of the project as it unfolds.

February 2016: Meet with Fine Cell Work to discuss our initial ideas for LDF 16

Luna & Curious is always interested in highlighting the designers behind the work, come in store and we will tell you all about the maker, we work very closely with many of our makers and often you will find one lurking in store. With this in mind, we batted around the idea of using faces on products to highlight the concept that behind every product is a designer, and that designer is a normal human being.

March 2016: Developing a design brief for the prisoners

We were very conscious that we didn't want to just use Fine Cell Work as a manufacturing device, and that the prisoners should create their own designs.  We developed a brief based on abstract faces, inspired by artists such as Picasso, Bruno Manari and contemporary make-up designers.

We drew a range of facial features; pages of noses, eyes, ears, eyebrows and mouths, from which the prisoners could cut out and collate a design using one of the four background options also.  The brief stated: "It is not compulsory to use two eyes, a nose and a mouth. Please feel free to create your own image." 

A selection of noses

May 2016: Paper designs received back at Luna & Curious

The uptake from the project was absolutely phenomenal, we received about 100 paper designs, which resulted in a painstakingly difficult afternoon whittling these down to six designs that we shall develop into products for London Design Festival. We plan to show as many of the paper designs as possible during the festival, as they are all so strong in their own right.

June 2016: Final brief

We feed back to Fine Cell Work with the colour palette that we would like everyone to work with but that really was the only limitation, creativity and expression was key to our collaboration so the rest was entirely up to the individual.

August 2016: Visit to meet the prisoners

On a very hot Wednesday we were invited to meet a group of embroiderers at a prison in South London. Two Fine Cell Work volunteers met us at the car park and we went to firstly have a quick bite in the prison Clink restaurant. The restaurant is entirely run by prisoners in a scheme to not only provide them with work but also to train them so that they can find work when they leave. Apart from the plastic cutlery it was as if we were in a regular restaurant. The food and service was fantastic.

We then met with the stitching group who meet with the volunteers every two weeks for two hours. Due to staff shortages the prisoners are kept in their cells for almost 22 hours a day. So this is something that they all very much look forward to. During the session they present the work to each other that they have completed over the last two weeks, discuss techniques and styles and also pick up more work from the volunteers. Over 70 volunteers work with Fine Cell Work across the country and have a fantastic relationship with the prisoners. It was an emotional day to hear first hand of what life in prison is like and how organisations like Fine Cell Work can really make a difference to the individuals.

September 2016:
First batch of cushions have arrived and they are really extraordinary. Each one has been stitched differently which means that they are truly unique pieces. We are very excited and look forward to presenting the collection at the Design Festival.
Here's a sneak peak of what to expect. Available from 17th September in store and online.
Please join us for our Private View on Tuesday 20th September, 6 - 8:30pm.