The Word Project 1

Agency: Kaldor Brand Strategy & Design

I dreamed up the Word Project on my very first day on the Kaldor team. It was the first work day of the new year, and we wanted a fun studio project that would push us creatively. Ever a writer, I suggested words: I would choose a word and write a story that represented that word. Then a member of the design team would create a visual representation of the word and story. Never in a million years did I imagine that the words I chose would be created using mustard, sawdust, flowers, flour and meat substitutes. And I definitely didn't expect how frequently a laser would be involved. Below, four of my favourite stories from the Word Project (and the gorgeous graphics that accompanied them).

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sister (n.) 

On Saturday night, the Kaldor team gathered at mine to play games and eat my world-famous artery-clogging macaroni and cheese. It was the first time my colleagues and their partners had been to my flat, and each and every one of them asked about the same item — a thick five-foot-long piece of driftwood stencilled with black letters: Baguette, $3. Pain de campagne, $4.

The sign is one of my favourite objects in my home. It was created by my cousin Hannah — my sister-cousin, as I call her, as she is the closest thing I have to a sister — when she and I lived together for a brief time in Victoria. She had just graduated from McGill and moved to Victoria at the height of the Great Recession. Jobs were tough to come by, and money was scarce (to put it mildly), so Hannah did what she needed to get by. Namely, she dreamed up a bakery called Flour + Water. Each morning she would get up at the crack of dawn, bake bread, and take it to Beacon Hill Park, where she sold it to those who wandered by. Every single day, she sold out. She paid her rent with the proceeds of her ingenuity.

When she left Victoria for Whitehorse (where jobs were not at all tough to come by), she left the sign behind. For her, it was a reminder of a tough time. For me, it was evidence of what a cool person my sister-cousin is, so I claimed it as my own. If she ever wants it back, she can have it…but of course I hope she never does.

free (adj.; v.)

Remember summer holidays? Yeah, sure, summer holidays are still a thing in adult life, but not like they once were. That indescribable feeling when the last bell rang on the last day of school, and you knew — I’m free. Two glorious months of sleep ins and lake swims and whatever the heck you felt like, really.

If I could tell my school-age self one thing, it would be this: enjoy every minute of it. Summer is different as an adult. Sure, it continues to be wonderful beyond reason, but it’s never quite the same past the age of 18. There’s no last bell for us.

So, young Chelsea, when mid-August rolls around and you start to get antsy, restless, even bored — give your head a shake, eat a peach, and go for a swim. Relish every last second of this freedom, because it won’t last forever.

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bond (n.; v.)

The Kaldor team is diverse. Okay, diverse may not be the right word — we are a lily white mix of English, Irish, and Canadians of English and Irish descent — but we’re…different. We have the odd thing in common: most of the team has low-grade, undiagnosed OCD. A couple of us are obsessed with the same podcasts, and some of us really, really like mountain biking. We share a love for Scandinavian design and craft beer, though you’d be hard-pressed to find a design studio where that isn’t the case.

It’s more our personalities that make us a funny mix. When our team took the Myers Briggs personality test, Conor and I were exact opposites. This didn’t come as a surprise to anyone. We’re oil and water — extravert/introvert; haphazard/meticulous; verbal/visual. The differences amongst the rest of the team are less polar, but we are a collection of distinct personalities. Of course, this is typically true. We’re all snowflakes.

Why is this worthy of mention, then? Because I sometimes find it remarkable how well our team works — not just professionally, but personally. We genuinely like each other — so much so that we occasionally follow a full week of work with an evening out or even a weekend away together. To spend forty hours sitting within a stone’s throw of one another and not grow weary of one another? That’s a special bond.

I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual.

unplug (v.)

Three years ago, I tried to unplug for the four-day Easter holiday. 96 hours, no gadgets. No phone.  No iPod, computer, or TV.

I failed, slowly, gadget by gadget. For each transgression, I was able to come up with a completely legitimate justification. In an attempt to get back on track – to prove that I DID NOT have a problem – I changed my social media passwords to an arbitrary string of letters and numbers, wrote them in a notebook, and put the notebook in my sock drawer. Unfortunately, I had access to my sock drawer. My flatmate ultimately took possession of my computer, my phone, my Kindle, my iPod. It worked, but only because he refused to relinquish my devices until 11:00 PM on Easter Monday.

That I had to resort to flatmate intervention is troubling.

And if I’m being honest, my gadget addiction has only gotten worse – for me, and most people. It’s everywhere you look. It’s the new normal.

These days, it seems I only ever unplug by accident – when my phone dies, when I go camping, when I forget my phone at home. Involuntary disconnection. And every single time, after the initial panic subsides, being unplugged feels so damn good.

All images by kaldor brand strategy & design