Friday, 3:00pm
26 July 2013

Poster-wrap party night

The V&A’s Friday Lates are an opportunity for graphic design and illustration to invade the museum’s spaces

On the last Friday of every month, the Victoria and Albert museum opens its doors until 10pm to host themed performances, installations, gallery talks and design workshops. Almost all of these ‘Friday Lates’ are free, and everyone is welcome, writes Holly Harris.

According to Ruth Lie, the Friday Lates programme coordinator in the V&A’s Contemporary department, the evenings are a ‘testing ground for emerging practitioners’. Events show how design from the past can inform and inspire current practice. While the museum is not best-known for its graphic design collections, supporting work of this kind can be seen through monthly two-colour A3 poster commissions for the cover of the event series programme (or ‘menu’).

Lie adds that commissioning the poster-wrap is one of her favourite parts of organising the event as, unlike the rest of the programme, she is able to work with international designers as well as those in the UK.

Daniel David-Freeman, poster-wrap for tonight’s ‘Peckham Takeover’, 2013.
Top: detail of Heidi Chisholm’s Afropolitans poster-wrap, 2011.

DDF_Peckham Wrap image_Daniel David-Freeman

This evening’s Friday Late is themed around the south-east London neighbourhood of Peckham. Last month’s event was themed the ‘Dalston Takeover’ and featured east London-based collective Open Studio.

Ciara Phelan, I Do, 2011.

I DO_April 2011_Ciara Phelan

The poster-wraps that cover the menus have only been in existence for a few years and designers have included Ciara Phelan, Heidi Chisholm, Tristram Mason and Sonia Castillo.

In April 2011, Ciara Phelan was commissioned to design the cover for the ‘I Do’ Friday Late that was themed around Kate and William’s royal wedding. Phelan works primarily in photomontage and creates 3D sets that are later photographed to produce the final image. For the V&A wrap, Phelan created a risograph print showing a street party scene.

Brooklyn-based South African designer Heidi Chisholm’s Afropolitans poster-wrap, 2011.


Heidi Chisholm designed a boldly coloured poster for the June 2011 theme of ‘Afropolitans’. Using brown and black, Chisholm printed on green paper. Her imagery was inspired by an exhibition of contemporary South African photography ‘Figures and Fictions’ in the V&A museum at the time.

Illustrator Tristram Mason’s Flying High, 2012.

Flying High Sept 2012_Tristram Mason

In September 2012, the V&A opened up some previously unknown spaces to the public under the theme ‘Flying High’. Finnish / British illustrator Tristram Mason was commissioned to produce an architectural photomontage based on the front façade of the museum. The strong perspective and imagery makes it appear as though the building is opening up to the viewer to reveal the hidden spaces inside.

Sonia Castillo’s poster-wrap for ‘David Bowie Is … making a scene’, 2013.

bowie_example final_Sonia Castillo

More recently, Madrid-based designer, Sonia Castillo was asked to design the wrap for ‘David Bowie Is… making a scene’. Castillo has an interest in cosmic imagery and the thematic connections to Bowie (‘Space Oddity’, ‘Starman’) are obvious.

The past two months have featured the work of London-based Daniel David-Freeman. David-Freeman’s work for the V&A has used found objects from the streets of London for both the Dalston and Peckham Friday Late takeovers. His punchy, streetwise designs remind us that both Dalston and Peckham were (and still are, to a large extent) urban areas with pressing social problems. Since these areas of London are also now seen to be creative hotbeds, the question has to be asked – are such neighbourhoods benefiting from the creative community in their midst? Tonight’s talks with the Peckham Social Archives and Peckham architect Benny O’Looney and Peckham Vision co-ordinator Eileen Conn might help to answer this question.

Daniel David-Freeman’s poster-wrap for last month’s ‘Dalston Takeover’.

DDF_Dalston_Daniel David-Freeman

Holly Harris, art historian, researcher and writer, London

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue.