Bolsover Castle

I’ll stop harping on about it soon, but we did all enjoy the work we did for Bolsover Castle!

It was a real opportunity to use new technology and traditional techniques to achieve results that are beautifully crafted but with all the cost, time and longevity advantages that high tech whizz-bangery can offer.

Interpretive cabinets used the latest digital 3D routing technology, traditional joinery and screen printing. Long-drop, canvas banners used traditional illustration, digital design and print direct to substrate. Interactive cabinets and boxes used craftsman-made jewellery, baking (yes really!), napkin folding and illusion…

William Cavendish would have loved the mix of old and new, traditional and modern – after all, he did just that when he built his unique castle on the hill.

See more pictures of our work at Bolsover here.



Bolsover Castle

As part of a recent project designing new interpretation for Bolsover Castle, we commissioned local jewellery designer, Sarah Chilia, to make a reproduction earring based on an original 17th century piece. The earring was given as a love token by William Cavendish, the Cavalier art-loving horseman and owner of Bolsover to his beloved wife, Elizabeth.

The earring is totally unique – literally – it was common then to wear odd earrings and this was one of a kind. The small, red enamel heart has a diamond in its centre and a crown of pearls along the top. From the bottom of the heart trails a long lock of William’s straw blonde hair the would have curled onto Elizabeth’s shoulder. It is personal, touching and totally bonkers in a style worthy of Vivenne Westwood.

Sarah Chilia crafted the piece beautifully. She had real difficulty in replicating the piece even with today’s modern tools and technology – it is so small and delicate. The diamond needed to be pressed into the enamelled piece while supported from behind to prevent the enamel from cracking and the pearls are so tiny that placing them required huge skill and nerve!

We’re delighted with the result, and hope it does justice to William’s love for Elizabeth. You can go and see it in the Riding House Range at Bolsover. More pictures of our work at Bolsover can be seen here.

Bolsover CastleThe good photo is courtesy of Sarah Chilia. The other one is mine!

It doesn’t matter how many jobs I get off to print – each and every time I send one off, I get butterflies. I pour my heart and soul into a job and want to do the best possible work and then, suddenly, it’s out of my hands. My inner control freak has a fit of nerves and I feel sick inside. I toss and turn in bed and worry until the job is complete.

I don’t know who said it, but the adage goes that ‘stress is caused by giving a shit’. How true is that?

The creative process is a funny old thing. I get a rush when a job first comes in. I have a flush of ideas and put the creative concepts together. Then comes the drudge bit, the graft, the revisions process and refinement. Then the boring bit, the artworking, then comes the sickness and worry, then lastly, the elation. It’s like a short, swift and disfunctional relationship!

Next week marks the start of a series of exhibition installations and then we can see the fruits of our hard work and ridiculous timesheets. Then the butterflies can go to bed.



I had the best of intentions, but Christmas has crept up and bitten Bivouac on the bum this year.

We’ve been busy, busy, busy, but somewhere along the line we forgot Christmas. No office posh burger night, cards… all a bit Bah Humbug really.

However, we’ve got a lot to celebrate this year. We’ve worked on some great jobs with some lovely people, there has been lots of laughter and we’ve welcomed Rachel and Donna to our merry little team.

2014 is looking healthy and happy too, so knickers to being bitten on the bottom. Bottoms up everyone! Merry Christmas.



I’ve always been a scribbler. When I was little, I’d draw on the table, on any loose piece of paper lying around, and on the walls. More specifically, I’d draw on the only part of the living room that was flat – the bit under the front window that was plastered.

I’d draw on it. Dad would paint it. I’d draw on it. Dad would paint on it. And so on. I thought it was great. I got a blank canvas over and over, but Dad? He wasn’t as excited about the whole thing.

Then he got the best in idea in the history of being my Dad. He wallpapered my bedroom in lining paper, gave me some paints, stood back and said ‘Go for it Katie – just don’t draw on the living room again!’

It was brilliant. I had a whole room to scribble on, however I wanted and whenever I wanted. It was a creative child’s dream. I’d scribble and paint and get totally wrapped up in my imaginative world. I’d get to live in it. And when I finished, we’d paint it together and I’d start again.

I’d just like to say thank you to my Dad for allowing me the creative freedom to explore ideas, and go crazy with paints. I know it was self defence, but I loved you for it and I still do.


Bivouac likes to think of itself as a classy sort of establishment. This class was demonstrated in bucket-loads on our R&D trip to London this week where we stuffed down a full English on the train, had chips and wine for lunch, stuck our heads through a Denis the Menace photo stand and bundled into a photobooth for an obligatory comedy prop-shot at the Haywood Gallery.

In between all this elegance and culture, we managed to squeeze in some serious R&D, with a visit to the Design Museum’s exhibition about 3D printing. It’s a fabulous little exhibition, if you’re down that way. I can see 3D printing having many uses in exhibition design, so I’m keeping my eye on its progress.

We enjoyed seeing masses of corrugated cardboard being used creatively for display purposes too, and I’m interested to see how it bears up after months of use – will it still look the business after 6 months of intensive use? Might have to go back to find out.

There was a tiny and pretentious exhibition about imagined ‘micro kingdoms’, obviously designed by someone who’d never ventured north of Watford and thought we all lived in an industrial pit (they should move in with Lord Howell, the twit), but we moved swiftly through that onto the Museum’s collection upstairs where I was alarmed to see my entire studio and living room on display as exhibits, from my old Jelly Mac to my Bobby Trolley and on to my Danish chair!

I suspect my Pantone mugs will be in the museum in 5 years time. And I may be in there too in 20, labelled ‘Sad old cliché. 1971–present’.


I’ve just been to Dudley for a site visit. When I returned to the studio, I was describing it to Rachel.

“Where’s Dudley? Does it have a moor? I’ve got in my head it’s got a moor…”


“I don’t think so. It looked pretty industrial to me.”


Dudley Moore would have loved our Rachel : )