Do We Seek Out Projects That Are Full Of Conjecture?

You don’t make change by taking the easy route.

Having been following the furore surrounding the planned Garden Bridge over the Thames and it’s got me wondering. At HemingwayDesign are we suckers for projects that have conjecture surrounding them or is it that the most impactful projects are often immersed in significant difficulties?

When I look at the projects that we are most proud of there seems to have been significant “issues” with them.

During the design and planning stage of The Staiths housing development, we started to question why people needed to park their cars within view of a window of their house, or why everyone needed a wheelie bin and why there couldn’t be permanent barbecues. We were criticised vehemently in the media and in planning and architecture circles. The cry went up “What do these fashion designers know about housing”. Well we obviously have a lot more common sense than some planners and architects because it’s worked an absolute treat (see for full details on this here.)


Our project at the Boscombe Overstrand on the Dorset coast had the BBC and the local media ripping into HemingwayDesign and the Bournemouth Council Seafront team who were behind the project, when the infamous artificial surf reef delighted the naysayers by being breached during a storm.


Read the story on a scheme that brought in more “hate mail” than I can remember but has proved to be a wonderful piece of regeneration.

Back in our Red or Dead days, we produced a collection that in part highlighted issues around mental illness and took it onto the catwalk. We ended up all over the press with the headline “The sick face of British Fashion”. Another time we worked with prisoners to make our first workwear collection with the view that it was better to give inmates an interest and the ability to learn a skill that could help their future outside of prison rather than leaving them to rot with nothing to do. This caused another massive press furore (whilst building our reputation in the quarters that we actually respected) See here for more on this.

Our two largest reimaginings of 1960s and 70s housing schemes, Evenlode and Hillington Square were initially both met by very strong opinion from the vocal communities of Maidenhead and Kings Lynn to demolish. These estates were perceived as “slums” & “dens of inequity”. The results however say different speak (David Cameron take note) as they are both now highly live-able and the sustainability of the refurb rather than demolition is unquestionable.


Then there is Dreamland Margate. Being the lead designers for four years on a scheme with so much legal wrangling in background, it always seemed like one step forward, two steps back. It really is quite something that this project that has done so much for “Brand Margate” ever reached fruition with the “wars” that were going on in the background.

Two weeks ago we embarked on creating a vision for Tropicana, the recent home of Banksy’s Dismaland, in Weston-Super-Mare. We reckon this one is going to have its moments of conjecture. Bring it on!