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What's in a name? A Practice for Everyday Life delve into the text that inspired their studio epithet, in a new set of prints inspired by concrete poetry...

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As many a designer will know, naming your newly-founded studio is no easy task. When Emma Thomas and Kirsty Carter came to choose an epithet for their new design practice back in 2003, they turned to their bookshelves for inspiration—and found themselves drawn in particular to a book that had a profound impact on both their thinking: The Practice of Everyday Life by Michel de Certeau. With a couple of minor tweaks to the title, A Practice for Everyday Life was born. Now in its fourteenth year, the studio have returned to this early inspiration for a new project, which explores and embellishes some of the ideas held within de Certeau’s text.

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The project was borne out of a desire to finally create a piece of work based on the book, and is the product of a drive by the studio to produce more self-directed work, inspired by their own interests. Encompassing a set of six prints housed in a smart screen-printed folder, it takes de Certeau’s text as a starting point for typographic exploration, in a similar vein to the concrete poetry that APFEL often cite as a visual and conceptual inspiration. “The idea of placing The Practice of Everyday Life at the centre of a piece of our work is one that we’ve wanted to explore for a long time,” they explain. “People are always curious about where our name comes from, and it’s something we’ve never really focused on in a project before.”

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The ideas in The Practice of Everyday Life were an early patch of common ground for Carter and Thomas, when they first met at the Royal College of Art back in 2001 and discovered they each had made reference to the book in their dissertations. “We found de Certeau’s book particularly resonant in the context of graphic design, whose products are themselves such an integral part of the fabric of people’s everyday lives.” they explain. “We were interested in the way he describes systems of processes, habits, references and behaviours, and how these small practices can enrich and personalise the way we live now.”

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For this new project, also titled The Practice of Everyday Life, APFEL revisited the text—they have several heavily-annotated copies in their studio library—and selected passages containing key ideas that resonate with their own practice and way of thinking. These short excerpts were then manipulated, creating a series of typographic images in which the layout of the text informs and embellishes their meaning.

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A limited edition of 40 copies of each design has been printed on Munken Lynx paper stock, and each full set is presented in a greyboard folder screen-printed by Harvey Lloyd Screen in East Sussex. The Practice of Everyday Life is available to buy now in APFEL’s shop, alongside a range of prints and objects produced by the studio over their thirteen-year history. The shop, which opened earlier this year, offers the studio further opportunity to explore and realise ideas developed over the years, alongside their commercial projects, which might otherwise never have seen the light of day. With even more projects in the pipeline, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.