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Sophie Devine joins the curved house eu erasmus entrepeneur

Sophie Devine is in the House


UK designer Sophie Devine has joined The Curved House for three months as part of the EU Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs scheme. This is the same amazing EU intiative that brought us Irish Kate. Sophie will be working on a range of design and marketing-related projects and developing a brand from scratch. She will hone her skills as a book designer and also learn how to run her own design business.

Sophie’s first task was to explore some of our favourite Berlin bookshops including Motto, Gestalten, Do You Read Me?, Shakespeare and Sons, Dussmann and the literary paradise that is Charlottenberg’s Literaturhaus. We asked her to look at the differences between German and UK editions of the same books, and to analyse how and why these designs vary. She has documented her observations over on her Ich bin ein Berliner tumblr, where she is also keeping a digital diary of her erasmus experience.

Sophie’s next task was to help us with a creative project for Curved House Kids. We asked her to create a font using handwriting from a 4 year old Londoner, Alice (thanks Alice!). We were inspired by the awesome (and gruesome) Kickstarter project Let’s Play Murder that involved creating a custom font from a child’s handwriting. The results are in:

custom typeface from child's handwriting


Next week we’ll upload a tutorial to the Curved House Kids website so you can make your own custom fonts.

Until then, welcome to Berlin Sophie Devine, and welcome to The Curved House! Let’s make some visual magic…

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


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.


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.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 16.23.57

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.


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!


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


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


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!

kate mcdonald the curved house

Kate goes back to her roots at #LBF15

jamie oliver kristen harrison

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

Visual Verse: April Edition


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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Reading Inspiration: Women in Letters


It’s International Women’s Day this Sunday 8th March – a day that has been observed since in the early 1900’s. Back then, great expansion and turbulence in the industrialised world resulted in their societies turned upside down. Radical ideologies – including the exceptionally radical idea that women have a right to be heard – began to take root.

Now, International Women’s Day is held across the world. With a focus this year on “Make it Happen”, the goals of IWD are all about ensuring women get equal representation and recognition. And we always feel like all good writing deserves ongoing champions. So, inspired by the “Make it Happen” line, we’ve come up with a little side project we’ve started work on: Women in Letters.

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Introducing – The Family Project


New Guardian-Faber book, The Family Project, is part memoir, part scrapbook, part game – a shell filled with ideas, projects and exercises that help you discover your family in all its idiosyncratic, personal glory.

A little while ago, a husband and wife journalist duo sat down to create a book that celebrated the idea of family. Harriet Green – who runs the Guardian’s Family section – and John-Paul Flintoff – who worked at the Sunday Times and Financial Times are the brains behind Guardian-Faber’s newest title.

This isn’t a typical book, and nor was this a typical brief. The Family Project comprises a series of exercises that allow you to create a scrapbook-style journal of your family history. Much like Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal or Quentin Blake’s Drawing for the Artistically Undiscovered, this is the kind of interactive book that relies on the creativity of the reader. Each exercise is just the beginning, waiting to be finished, and for those who know our work at Curved House Kids, you’ll understand exactly why we fell in love with the book from the beginning.

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Visual Verse March Edition is here!


Volume 2, Chapter 5 of Visual Verse is now open for submissions at www.visualverse.org.

This month’s visual prompt is from British artist Dominic Goodman. Goodman is a fine art graduate from Central Saint Martins and works in a variety of media covering photography, film, music and art. His photography often focuses on unoccupied spaces, raising questions over events that may have occurred or perhaps will occur outside of the confines of the image. Perfect for you, dear writers. Dominic also co-runs labels YYAA Recordings and Hallso.

In honour of the infamous St Patrick, celebrated on March 17th, we dedicate this issue to Ireland and its enticing list of extraordinary emerging writers. Our lead author, Sara Baume, is arguably one of Ireland’s brightest literary stars, having won the Davy Byrnes Short Story Award in 2014 and named Hennessy New Irish Writer of 2015. She has recently released her debut novel Spill Simmer Falter Wither with Tramp Press. 

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Introducing – Small Green Shoots


We’re delighted to introduce you to one of our latest websites, for the excellent Small Green Shoots.

Small Green Shoots were founded in 2009 with the aim of giving young people from disadvantaged backgrounds (so-called NEETs) an opportunity to engage with music and the arts, and to use these experiences as a springboard for their future.

As one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations, Small Green Shoots has also piloted and developed a comprehensive and successful Creative Apprenticeship Programme, which offers a handful of young apprentices the opportunity to manage their events, as well placements in companies like MTV, Sony ATV and Adidas.

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The Curved House Fun Palaces

Reporting Back from the Fun Palace


Just in case you didn’t see over at our children’s HQ, Curved House Kids, we’ve been spending the last week collecting all manner of activities and materials together for Berlin’s first ever Fun Palace.

A revival of an idea originally conceived by the legendary playwright Joan Littlewood, Fun Palaces is a UK based initiative that launched this years thanks to Sarah Jane Rawlings and Visual Verse contributor, Stella Duffy. Read More