As part of Clerkenwell Design Week, I hosted a series of private views for carpet manufacturer Milliken at their EC1 studio. The aim was to unveil a new artwork by legendary letterpress typographer Alan Kitching and interview the great man about his illustrious career.
There was a great turn-out to both private views, and the audience really seemed to enjoy hearing the formidably-bearded Alan talk about his early life in Darlington, where he discovered a love for poster art at an early age, as well as his later rediscovery of letterpress printing and formidable creative partnership with his late wife Celia Stothard. We learnt that he's (unsurprisingly) not very fond of computers and loved Clerkenwell back in the 1980s when it was a "desert" still filled with printing works and watchmakers.
In the audience for the evening event was a certain Junko Fuwa, who was not only there to offer support to the Gardner half of fuwagardner, but also because she was taught by Alan at the Royal College of Art. She must have been a good student because Alan later created a cover for Blueprint magazine while Junko was working there as art director.
I was asked to host the events following a commission to shoot some portraits of Alan at his Kennington studio. He has long been a hero of mine, and it was magical to watch him print and talk about his work.
Milliken had previously worked with Alan a decade ago. When they first moved to their studio in Clerkenwell, Milliken asked Alan to make a commemorative print that was used for invitations, prints and even carpet tiles! The latest work was commissioned to mark this year's Clerkenwell Design Week as well as reflect the new colour palette of Milliken's corporate identity.