Ten questions for...Flora Fricker

As the most anticipated WEDF talk of the year approaches, we find out more about warm-up act Flora Fricker:

1. What was the Eureka moment that made you become a designer?

Growing up in a creative family it was always a no-brainer that I too would follow the creative path. Forever drawing and making little books, I studied the Art and Design Extended Diploma at college (specialising in Illustration and Graphic Design) and then later studied Graphic Design at Falmouth University. So there wasn’t ever a sudden realisation, it was always just there.

However I did have a Eureka moment when it came to being a Graphic Designer in Film. That was when I went to Dublin for Annie Atkins’ Workshop for Graphic Design in Filmmaking and TV. That was when all the lightbulbs went on, and I took a sharp turn and put all my energy into getting my foot in the door of the film world.

2. What was the first thing you ever designed?

Like proper designed? When I was 16 my dad, William, asked me to design a photographic book of the Cotswolds — he runs Goldeneye (an independent publishing company specialising in UK Travel Guides; Guidebooks, Map-Guides, Photographic Books and so on). It was my first time using InDesign — I had no idea about grids or guides, line lengths, or how to set up a document. But after many hours of fudging and Googling I had designed my first book. It was printed and it sold well, but I have recently just re-designed and updated the whole book – this time it has been typeset and has a grid, I think it’s a vast improvement! 

3. Where did you study and who taught you?

I studied Graphic Design at Falmouth University: a great university with the best positioning. The School of Communication was located on Woodlane campus in Falmouth town — a campus set amongst tropical plants and a 5 minute walk to the beach. It was so beautiful and I’m very grateful to have spent 3 years studying there. We had some wonderful lecturers too, to name a few: Nikki Salkeld, Dion Star, Darren Whittington, Bryan Clark, Ashley Rudolph, Kate Christman, Lizzie Ridout.

4. Design heroes? Who influenced you in those early days? And who influences you now?

I wouldn’t say there was ever just a single designer that influenced me. I am constantly being inspired by the world around me (cliché yes, but true) and the little things I stumble across. I’m so lucky to live in London and be in the centre of it all, to see new things unfold and to see ideas and boundaries pushed by design. I am also surrounded by so much history, which is my favourite part. I am a collector of antique and vintage ephemera and find inspiration in the smallest of details. So I think my greatest influence is London. She’s pretty great.

5. Where was your first creative job? What did you learn?

My first job in film was as a Graphic Design Trainee on The Voyage of Doctor Doolittle (out 2020). Set in the 1830s England it was a dreamy first job. I got to make Victorian medicine labels, envelopes addressed to the Queen with wax seals, pressed flower art works and much more. As it was my first job on a film I was thrown in at the deep end, but it was here that I learnt so much about the making of a film, the inns and outs of the art department, and all the drama that happens behind the camera.

6. What’s your favourite piece of work you’ve created? And what’s your favourite piece of work someone else created?

My favourite piece I’ve ever designed would be a book I designed for my mum, Caroline — it was a Uni project for ISTD. The brief was to celebrate a designer and their craft through a printed publication. My mum is a very talented bridal wear designer, craftsperson and silk specialist. The book tells the story of mum and her world of making. With personal stories of fabrics, tools, brides, vintage gowns, her current collection and a timeline of her making process. It explores the parallels of typography and dress making: time, skill, detail and precision are all things they both possess. My typographic choices had to reflect this — to not take centre stage, but to be modest, yet beautiful, and subtly sit with the photographs and adornments of the book. So far I have only made two copies, one for me and one for mum.

And my favourite piece of design… I went to visit the Eames house (Case Study House No. 8) in Los Angeles in January and it has been on my mind ever since. A mid 20th century modern architectural project designed by husband-and-wife design pioneers Charles and Ray Eames, that served them both as a home and a studio. The house has been kept just how they left it when the couple passed away. A moment in time, with lots of beautiful objects and possessions from a rich and vibrant life. I’m also fascinated by the way people live — you could call me nosey, but I prefer curious and interested!

Case Study House No. 8, Los Angeles

7. When you’re stuck in a rut, how to you get creative ideas flowing?

Make a cup of tea and eat a biscuit or three, that usually gets things going again.

8. The worst thing that ever happened to you during one of your talks?

This will be my first ever talk! I’m feeling a little bit nervous to say the least.

9. The best book you’ve read lately?

I think most people have read it now but Conversations With Friends and Normal People by Sally Rooney. I read them both over a weekend and loved them! They are currently making the TV show too, so that’s one to look forward too!

10. If you could have a super power what would it be?

Just one? I would love to fly but then I think I would get bad motion sickness. So probably time travel. That would be cool.

Make a cup of tea and eat a biscuit or three. That usually gets the creative ideas going again!

— Flora Fricker