Folkestone Book Festival Visitor Experience


This project began with a timely tweet inviting artists and designers to submit their proposal for a visitor experience for the Folkestone Book Festival. Salt has been involved with a number of interior display and exhibition graphic projects and we knew this was a pitch we had to win. 

The Creative Foundation, the arts charity behind the festival and many other local events, had been in our mind for a while. Their flagship project the Folkestone Triennial, a contemporary arts exhibition, was so amazing we created a blog about it! They have attracted big name artists in previous projects and are a well respected arts body.

Salt Folkestone Quarterhouse

The brief was to transform the interior spaces at the Folkestone Quarterhouse, the venue for the 10 day November Book Festival. The aim was to create a warm and inviting environment to gather together and share stories with well known authors including Mark Billingham and Melvyn Bragg alongside local writers. We immediately wanted to put our loves of books and obsession with type and paper at the centre of our idea. 

Creative pitch moodboard

Creative pitch moodboard

Finding magic

We distilled our ideas into the concept ‘Finding Magic’ inspired by a Dr Seuss quote "You can find magic wherever you look, sit back relax all you need is a book" and pitched it to Tania McCormack at Creative Foundation. An artist herself, Tania instantly understood we wanted to lift the stories right off the pages and display them around the venue in unexpected places.

Salt Folkestone Book Festival Floor graphic
Salt Folkestone Book Festival foyer graphics
Salt Folkestone Book Festival floor graphic

We designed typographic quotations as floor and wall vinyls in the entrance foyer to lead visitors through the space up to the focal point in the bar – a 4m high hanging installation of type and snowflakes cascading from the double height ceiling through the circular atrium to the foyer below.

Salt Folkestone Book Festival installation

Commissioning the artists

From early on we knew the perfect collaboration would be with bespoke paper artist Suzanne Allen at Paper Tree Design. Due to the tight schedule there was no time for testing our design, and working from our visuals Suzanne began one of the largest project she’d undertaken. Over 100 bespoke paper cut snowflakes set the magical and festive mood and Suzanne produced the festival poster with letters opening like doors on an giant advent calendar.

Salt Folkestone Book Festival poster

It was important for the Creative Foundation and us for the production to be bespoke and crafted, and with this in mind we also commissioned local artist Samuel Capell to screen print limited edition quote posters, as souvenirs of the occasion.

Salt Folkestone Book Festival type posters

The results

The whole project from pitch to installation was achieved in less than a month, with the help of Tania, Ioannis and Chief Technician Anthony with an impossibly tall ladder! For flexibility, everything was assembled on site and installed over 3 days by ourselves, Paper Tree and the Creative Foundation team. Local company Sign Graphics did an amazing job with the cut vinyl lettering.

Salt Folkestone Book Festival team

All the elements were designed to have a permanent nature so they could be re-used for future Book Festivals and we were delighted to see the work being left in place over the Christmas period too.

Salt Folkestone Book Festival Bar installation
Salt Folkestone Book Festival snowflake detail

The festival, which opened with author Louis de Bernières switching on the Christmas lights, was a great success with record numbers attending. It was great to see everyone from the celebrity speakers to local school children enjoying the festive space. 

Salt Folkestone Book Festival bar detail

We really enjoyed the collaboration and hope it's the first of many projects with the Creative Foundation. We are proud to be involved in their mission to use creativity to bring Folkestone to back life and prosperity.

Salt Folkestone Book Festival bar graphic

"Stella and Victoria quickly came up with a concept for the Book Festival 2015 decorations and worked to a very tight deadline. Their initial ideas encompassed the brief and at all stages there was excellent communication and we worked together to problem solve within the limitations of the space and budget. The finished outcome transformed the space beautifully and was well received by our audiences. It was a complete pleasure to work with Salt." 
Alastair Upton : Chief Executive Creative Foundation

"I loved the decorations, I thought they were very festive, original and elegant. They were definitely a great addition to the Quarterhouse. I do hope we work again with you in the future!"
Geraldine D’Amico : Curator Folkestone Book Festival

Photography Bernadette Baksa (NGM Photography where stated)