The Curved House BlogInspiration, Tips and Projects from The Curved House

All posts by Kate Nic Dhomhnaill

A look back at my time as an EU Erasmus Young Entrepreneur

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EU Erasmus for Young EntrepreneursAt the end of May my stint at The Curved House will come to an end. I spent four glorious months here as part of the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs scheme. For anyone who doesn’t know, Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is a “cross-border exchange programme which gives new or aspiring entrepreneurs the chance to learn from experienced entrepreneurs running small businesses in other Participating Countries.” The idea is that I, an aspiring entrepreneur about to start my own business, would spend time at an established small company, The Curved House in this case, learning the skills required to run a business.

I applied to the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme in late November 2014. I hoped to gain experience and insight into the day to day running of a small company. By December everything was signed and approved and so my journey with The Curved House began.

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The Curved House team, Berlin

I was in Berlin by January 2015 and was so excited about the prospect of a new job, new city, new colleagues and €1.50 kebabs. I didn’t know exactly how the Erasmus scheme would work or what exactly I would be doing, but I was confident that it would all be worthwhile.

The first time I met Kristen and Nerys, they took me to their local coffee spot. The flat whites were made to perfection, so naturally I took this as a sign of how our working relationship would develop.

During my first few weeks, Nerys took me under her Curved House wing and showed me how everything worked. After being set up with a million logins, we planned a communications strategy for the coming months. I wrote blog posts, researched various topics and helped out with different editorial tasks.

Kristen made sure to always include me in all meetings, so that I would be up to speed but also to make sure I had the skills and know-how going forward.

During my stay I also guest edited Visual Verse. I loved doing this. I sourced lead writers for each new edition, wrote newsletters, tweeted daily as well as edited and published incoming submissions. This really helped me understand the importance of a having a strong social media presence.

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Another project I absolutely loved working on was Women In Letters, a celebration of female writers that kicked of on International Women’s Day 2015. I researched the writers and wrote the text, but this beautiful project was the creative brain child of Nerys Hudson at The Curved House. She also sketched all of the writers.

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I was also lucky enough to go to the London Book Fair, where Kristen and I met lots of publishing people, clients and authors and went to some really interesting talks. We also met Ali Smith, one of the Visual Verse patrons, which was a highlight!

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Kristen and Ali Smith and #LBF15

So in a nutshell the Erasmus was so rewarding, so enjoyable and so valuable for my professional growth and that of my future business. The financial backing allowed me to live in Berlin (my rent was covered with additional modest living costs) a city I had always wanted to explore. I even spoke the occasional bit of German.

Without a doubt, I would recommend this programme to anyone wishing to gain insight and experience in an established company. I am certain that this experience will help my own business. I definitely hope to work with these creative and talented people again in the future.

So long for now from Irish Kate!

kate mcdonald the curved house

Kate goes back to her roots at #LBF15

Visual Verse Editors catch up with Litro Magazine

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Visual Verse editors, Preti and Kristen, talked to Litro Magazine yesterday about all things art, literature and, of course, Visual Verse.

Tomorrow is the first of the month, which means a brand new image and a brand new edition of Visual Verse. We have three incredibly diverse and reflective thinkers as our lead writers this month as well as an original painting by a very talented artist and illustrator based in Berlin. More on this tomorrow… Read More

Reporting back from The London Book Fair 2015

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Last week The Curved House team set sail for The London Book Fair. Between meetings, reunions and taking selfies with Ali Smith and Laura Dockrill, we managed to get to some fantastic talks and seminars.

One which really got us thinking was a seminar about making books for blind and visually impaired children. The talk was given in association with Book Trust and discussed all the different ideas and concepts that go into making a book that can be read without seeing. Some of these books are available here. Including different textures to outline the story is crucial. Having a glittery road for example, which feels gritty and rough to touch adds a lot to the experience and helps move the story along. Smells can also play a huge role in developing the story, for example having a part in the story with a strawberry scented ice cream will transport the child to a park or beach or school trip. These aspects are key in developing a story which cannot rely on visuals, text and smaller illustrations. We’re completely on board with thinking outside the box and making reading accessible for all children. The aim with our Make Your Own Book series is to make all children, whatever form their literacy takes, whether it’s visual or textual, feel included and interested in the books and stories they read.

Another interesting talk we went to was about ways in which digital can innovate kids reading. The main ideas discussed were keeping kids interested and motivated in reading as they get older. With the overbearing presence of the internet, games, TV and extra-curricular activities, reading can often take a back seat. Keeping reading interesting and up to date is crucial to competing for a child’s time. A way of doing this is to start ‘gamifying’ books and stories. By turning stories into games with rewards, levels, virtual currency etc., kids become more engaged and more interested. These games can increase reading levels and keep kids focused on reading throughout their teens, when they would statistically drop away from reading. Digital is native to kids now, so reading will have to change its form to keep up. Check out Wandoo and Turmali for some fun reading games!

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Kate goes back to her roots at #LBF15

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Kristen’s lifelong dream of hugging Jamie Oliver comes true #LBF15

Curved House Kids at the Central Books Stand #LBF15

Curved House Kids at the Central Books Stand #LBF15

Roads Publishing at London Book Fair

Lovely cover designs by Ireland’s Roads Publishing

Bridget Marzo's Tiz and Ott!

Bridget Marzo’s Tiz and Ott! We love Bridget.

Ali smith at london book fair 2015

Ali Smith being amazing

Font of the Month: Neue Haas Unica

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This month we take you from Moscow to Germany with Neue Haas Unica.

We all know Helvetica. Globally, it’s the most popular and recognisable typeface; it’s everywhere you look, even on your iPhone. Helvetica, the rational, legible and hugely popular typeface was designed in 1957, with advertisements, signs and headlines in mind. There’s a super fascinating documentary, which discusses the emergence of the font and the ideas behind it.

However, once Helvetica’s uses were needed beyond headlines and in smaller form, Haas, the centuries-old Swiss type foundry that had introduced Helvetica in 1957, commissioned a Swiss design team called Team’77 (André Gürtler, Christian Mengelt and Erich Gschwind) to come up with a follow-up to the world’s most popular typeface. Team ’77 set out to design a font based on Helvetica but drawing on other sans-serif typefaces, principally Univers- hence the hybrid name they ended up with. “Unica was designed to be different,” said André Gürtler; “sharper than Helvetica, warmer than Univers, cleaner than Akzidenz.”

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London Book Fair 101

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London Book Fair (#LBF15) kicks off tomorrow and we’re very excited here at The Curved House. Now in its 44th year, The London Book Fair is the book-publishing trade fair west of Frankfurt. If this is your first London Book Fair, the hallowed halls of LBF’s new home at London Olympia may seem like a daunting prospect. But fear not – we’ve got a short crash course to guide you through.
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The Making of a Modern Classic(s)

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‘Definition of a classic: a book everyone is assumed to have read and often thinks they have.’
Alan Bennett

Faber and Faber have just launched their very own series of modern classics, recontextualising their back catalogue and re-introducing us to the many gems from their illustrious exploits in publishing. Modern classics are a particularly interesting sort, a sort of exercise in clairvoyancy for shaping the ongoing cannon of literature. And indeed, for publishers with ever growing back catalogues, the modern classic is a fantastic way to ensure great stories continue to stand the test of time, alongside their established counterparts. So what makes a modern classic, both in terms of content and design?

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#Litmags

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We’re back to work after a glorious Easter weekend spent reading, reading and reading some more. Having reignited our flame with all things literary, we feel like sharing some of our favourite and incredibly well curated litmags with you.

These journals and magazines constantly commission brilliantly innovative and fresh new writing in all its forms- from poetry and fiction to non-fiction and reviews. We’re always in awe of the amount of work that goes in to each edition, from the design, to the cover to the content itself. This is even more impressive given that most of these journals rely and survive on subscriptions and donations in an age where content is expected for free.

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Visual Verse: April Edition

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Easter falls early this year, just in time for the launch of April’s Visual Verse. Whether you go all out for the traditional post-lent roast lamb or keep it low key with take-away, Easter is a time to gather, relax and feast with family and friends. In keeping with this, our April edition of Visual Verse is an homage to the art of eating and the rituals that come with it. With family in mind, we want to share and celebrate our April editions with our Visual Verse kin. Without the inspired, instinctive words of all our writers, we would have nothing to publish. So, dear writers, this very special edition of Visual Verse is dedicated to you.

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2015 in covers. Our favourites so far.

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There has been a lot of book release talk over the past few weeks, from the announcement of the publication Harper Lee’s prequel to To Kill A Mockingbird and Kazuo Ishiguro’s return to the literary world after a 10 year hiatus with the fantasy The Buried Giant (an event fittingly marked with another lovely Peter Mendelsund cover pictured above). We thought we’d get involved by judging the 2015 book releases solely by their covers. So below, have a look at some of the covers and trends that have caught our eye. Read More