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.
Guardian-Faber approached us to design the book and the brief was to transform the ideas, that John-Paul and Harriet had conceived, into a cohesive reader journey. The Family Project is, in their own words “A creative handbook for anyone who wants to discover their family story – but doesn’t know where to start” so our challenge, alongside the editorial director Laura Hassan, was to make sure the book feel logical and organised, but with enough space for people to make the book wholly their own – just as the authors intended!
Designing a book like this is a fully-absorbing task and one that requires giving every page it’s own design. John-Paul is a natural visual thinker and many of the exercises were submitted as sketches and diagrams, rather than text, so in many ways this made the design process more natural.
For us, it was hugely exciting to be working from a visual manuscript, rather than text, and Laura commissioned the amazingly talented illustrator Sarah-Jane Coleman to work with us. We found a workflow that started with the raw sketches, turned into instructions for the illustrator, came back into the page layout and eventually popped out as a fully formed book.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, we have done our own pages from the book, something we’ve been dying to do since the beginning of the project:
This is a project made with much warmth and affection from the authors and we hope the design conveys that. High fives to our own little Family Project family – Laura Hassan at Guardian-Faber whose project this is, Sarah-Jane, Kristen, Pete and Dario and of course John-Paul and Harriet, who have created a truly joyful book.
Grab a copy of The Family Project and tweet your own pages using #familyproject
Make your own family project with the amazing authors, Harriet Green and John-Paul Flintoff, Wednesday 25th March at the Guardian offices in London’s Kings Cross.