Morag Myerscough: A talk about places…

Places to grow with, places to experience, places to love. Ultimately, places that tell a story. Morag Myerscough’s talk takes us on a fast paced journey through her colourful work. And life. Perhaps the two are now very much intertwined, as she explains a revaluation of principles after she met Luke Morgan, Elvis fan and long term collaborator.  “If life is about enjoying yourself, and if your work is your life, than the projects you embark on should follow those same values.”

Photo © Gerhard Kassner
Morag, British-born designer who is well-known for her signage systems at the TEA building as well as the Barbican, is no stranger to the TYPO. At last year’s TYPO London, she gave a similarly inspiring talk, connecting it now to this year’s topic “sustain”. From her own rebuilt house in Hoxton (“I didn’t like living vertically anymore so I found a square space instead”) to signage systems, exhibitions and school projects, she covers a wide range which really makes you understand her perspective.

And, although you wouldn’t think it from the kaleidoscope of colours and shapes that transpire in her projects, Morag says she likes to live a simple life. But if you look closely enough, you can see it. Her projects celebrate narratives of places/people/things, the same way a simple household displays a cacophony of objects collected over time that tell the story of the people living in it. They embrace what is already there and reinvent the space in the eyes of the people that now fill it. A collection of shapes, materials, colours and words bring those stories to life. All with a touch of the hand made.

Photo © Gerhard Kassner
In her talk, Morag describes how she often works together with architects and people from the community to “give a framework, that allows whoever uses it afterwards to do with it whatever they want”. Be it a discarded train that, with the help of many locals, gets repainted, equipped with handmade furniture and dining facilities or a school projects that turns it into “a big place where you feel excited, with no limitations”. Bold exhibition concepts, that look like overwhelming experiences, making use of floors, ceilings and walls. What struck the most, were the very elaborate models she builds, almost works of their own, that she creates as a way of understanding the space.

While she says that she’s mostly working on her own now, you can’t help noticing, that Luke plays an important role in a lot of projects. She also briefly touches on the subject of SUPERGROUP, a support network of creatives with an interesting set of qualifications criteria. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much talk on the subject, even if it would have been interesting to hear more about how that collaborative approach came to be and how it fits with someone with such a unique style as Myerscough.

Morag’s work is certainly not quiet and polished, sometimes even cartoonish, but has a strength and boldness to it that feels very authentic and positive. Her socio-humanistic view of sustainable working certainly comes across as what makes her work so unique and powerful. Listening to Rock’nRoll whilst painting stools in the “messy room” with Lemmy, her little white dog laying around, doesn’t sound too bad as a working environment either.

Morag Myerscough

Morag Myerscough

Over the years Morag has concentrated on working way beyond the restrictions of 2-D and creates and curates many different types of work including a train as a café, numerous exhibitions, interpreting buildings plus running her own gallery and shop »her house«. Myerscough believes that wayfinding is not purely about a series of signs but as much about bringing out the narrative in the built environment, enhancing the physical experience, it is very important how people feel when they move through a space, if they can move easily almost unconsciously and if you can make them smile and feel happy that is one of the best outcomes. Morag studied at St Martin's and the Royal College of Art. Starting Studio Myerscough in 1993.

True to form, here are her playful goodbye words:
Where she sits, she shines, where she shines, she sits.

Text: Ann-Kristina Simon & Ana Viegas | Graphic Birdwatching