Playground 99

In January I had a conversation with Julian about the nature of future-focussed work, and how much of it never sees the light of day. One of our colleagues arrived at the phrase ‘nothing ends up in the drawer’ as a potential mission statement. Rhys also refers to these ‘lost projects‘ which everyone has, little reminders of which sit on shelves or hard-drives, teasing us with hints of what could’ve been. The end goal of future focussed work is rarely large scale implementation, but in some way everything needs to avoid becoming just another a page in a folder, sketch in a book or a model in a drawer. Sharing the work through re-use, continued development, publication or speaking should become the focus of what we do.

In this spirit, here’s something which I worked on last year which never quite made it.

For a while, Charlie Gower and I had been cooking up an idea for a ‘magazine’, fusing makers and medium in new ways. The pitch was simple: every 99 days we would make a magazine asking a creator/maker to produce something (a one off, a short run or thousands of copies) using a medium with which they had little/ limited experience. Find a musician and get them to make hats; find a writer and get them to DJ a party, that sort of thing. We called the project Playground 99, and it made good early progress. We began to source a long list of potential ‘mediums’ including playing card manufacturers, pin badges production facilities, metal fabricators, printers, matchbook vendors and party venues. We built a substantial list of people we’d like to collaborate with, and made an introductory movie with Matt Ward. It was all coming together well, but then Charlie moved to New York and something just didn’t feel right. I’m not sure if we got cold feet or weren’t happy with the tone, but it’s been on ice since the middle of last year. That said, in the thinking and film-making we actually progressed our ideas somewhat. The project opened up a few useful ‘what if’ questions, and it was fun making the props, writing the voiceover and filming the movie. So on reflection, perhaps it’s mission accomplished. We’ll see.