What do you do in your spare time?

New exhibition After Hours looks at projects designers create in their spare time. Do you work on any personal projects – and if so what are they?

Michael C Place

‘We have worked on a few personal projects (Not For Commercial Use, and various personal print series), I’ve always thought that it is healthy for a designer to do projects for themselves. And this isn’t to work on a project without a client, it’s not about circumnavigating the client, and it’s NOT about “being free of the constraints of the client” (if you do it for that reason, I think you are doing your client work wrong). I think it’s about expressing yourself, not in a suffering-artist-type-of-way but about the desire to produce a piece of work that in some way generates conversation, or that is just plain beautiful to the eye…or god forbid just to be plain selfish. Not For Commercial Use is a project that we did with Generation Press, it fulfilled all of the criteria above (and more), and we had a blast doing it!’

Michael C Place, co-founder, Build

Nick Asbury

‘I usually have at least one thing on the go at any one time: Pentone, Corpoetics, Disappointments Diary, Mr Blog and others. I’m exhibiting a set of 30 Pentones as part of the After Hours exhibition, and producing a boxset. I see personal work as being pretty central to what I do. In some cases, it creates a new source of income, but it’s more about doing something interesting and seeing where it leads. I’d like to see more exhibitions like After Hours. There are so many gifted thinkers and crafters in design – it’s a great British tradition – but most of the press and public still only have the dimmest understanding of what designers do.’

Nick Asbury, co-founder, Asbury & Asbury

James Backhurst

‘Spare time? What’s that then? Running a design business eats into every second of every day. Holidays are the only downtime I get these days. Time to switch off, rest and recharge? Not a chance! It seems a creative mind has to be active, occupied, satisfied and fulfilled constantly. Take my holiday snaps as an example. They have become epics: art-directed, crafted and all-consuming. This wasn’t a conscious decision, it happened through mixing my three great passions: photography, the great outdoors and travel. These passions were always going to lead to some form of creative output. Now, what shall I do with these 12,000 shots?’

James Backhurst, creative partner, The Allotment

Michael C Place

‘I’ve been working on a bit of a social design experiment called MakeMatter, matching creative products with social action. It started with an invite to display work in a street-level exhibition last month. Oh boy. The strange fear and thrill of having no brief. The first project “Window Shopping” is a response to the growing issue of food poverty. The on-demand prints are supporting local food banks, who are bringing hope to people in desperate need. So if you have a little space in your studio or kitchen, here’s a print a little bit outside the normal frame.’

Ed Watt, designer, O Street

Ben Haworth

‘Away from client projects Tom Sharp and I are creating a book. It could be described as a novel but the design doesn’t follow any traditional format, it doesn’t have a plot or any kind of linear narrative, and there is only one character. It takes inspiration from physicist Hugh Everett’s theories.’

Ben Haworth, creative director, The Beautiful Meme

Michael C Place

‘I’m writing a book with my wife, Amelia Noble. It’s called Childcare is Easy – in the current sociological mish-mash of terrified PC comment and right-on child-centric parenting it’s easy to forget that you can avoid coughing up £989 for a Bugaboo “Donkey” hairball by choosing to simply cart your one-year-old around John Lewis in one of their natty baskets with wheels. The kid has a whale of a time. You save a grand. Everyone’s happy. In keeping with the hyper-streesed urban modern parent, everything for the book is created in a shockingly time-poor environment, so the at-speed photography is all Instagram, and the stories are Piction headlines snatched on the way back from Trotters. It’s going to be a bestseller, I just need to wipe the sick off my iPad to press send.’

Simon Manchipp, founder and executive creative director, SomeOne

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