25 May 2022
Camille Walala: Taking Joy SeriouslyBy Camille Walala. Designed by Jon Dowling and Céline Leterme. Counter-Print, £35.
Camille Walala’s new monograph makes explicit the influences on her colourful community projects, furniture and large-scale public art. Review by Gabriela Matuszyk
Camille Walala’s distinctive public art has become an inherent part of London’s urban landscape over the past decade. In her first monograph, Taking Joy Seriously, the French designer-artist maps out how bold colours and playful patterns have become a fundamental part of her practice, looking closely at both realised and speculative projects.
Ruby Boddington’s foreword gives an overview of Walala’s career, starting with her arrival in London in 1997, with a degree in textiles from Brighton University, before launching her studio. She has always made her influences explicit: the Memphis Group; Bridget Riley; Keith Haring; and the Ndebele tribe of South Africa, among others. Through her public-facing work, Walala likes to engage with communities, disseminating creativity and instilling confidence in young people. ‘I want to create a place where people can gather, appreciate their surroundings and enjoy the city’ she says.
Cover of Taking Joy Seriously designed and published by Counter-Print.
Top. Spread featuring children enjoying Walala’s public sculpture Putting things in perspective in Plymouth, 2021.
Walala's HOUSE OF DOTS installation for LEGO, 2020, invited visitors to explore five vivid rooms.
Twenty-one projects are included in the book, which opens with the ‘Dream Come True’ building in London’s Shoreditch (see ‘Colouring in the city’ in Eye 91), a turning point in her career. What follows is a series of poppy interiors, exteriors, billboards, façades, public-facing installations and participatory sculptures. Walala’s signature style can be seen in many places – including Mauritius, Hong Kong and Plymouth – but her most prevailing relationship is with London, which she also captures in a (love) letter to the city written in 2020 during lockdown.
Spread featuring Better Bankside Crossing on Southwark Street, London, designed by Walala Studio in 2015.
In the final section of the book, a mini notebook with a black and white pseudo-marbling pattern is spliced between the pages. Here, we can see first-hand Malala’s process of colour exploration and her examination of the relationships between various geometric shapes and patterns.
Playful explorations of form, texture, pattern and colour, capture the immediacy of Walala’s recognisable style.
This translates to the front cover of the book: the casebound edition is available in eight different designs.
Taking Joy Seriously is available in eight different cover designs.
Gabriela Matuszyk, designer, writer, educator, 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 and single issues.