Cardboard Citizens is the UK’s only homeless people’s professional theatre company, putting on plays performed by homeless and displaced actors. It also runs workshops and support programmes for homeless people, helping them to find jobs and housing.
The company was previously based in a small office with no rehearsal space, but recently moved to a former gallery in East London. Interabang was asked to customise the venue and has designed a charming and homely interior with a personal touch.
Mill’s black pen and paint doodles present an image of domesticity – books line one wall and picture frames another, filled with posters advertising past productions. There’s also a floor lamp, a telephone, a hoover, and a stag’s head above a door:
Other illustrations are a reference to the company’s past productions and annual activities. Signs above a bike rack pointing to London, Paris and Amsterdam represent the company’s annual fundraising cycle, while mice in sunglasses refer to a production of Three Blind Mice.
“We were asked by Cardboard Citizens’ CEO, Adrian Jackson, to create something a bit different with some personality,” explains Adam Giles, who co-founded Interabang with Ian McLean. “The space was amazing but it was quite sterile, so it was our aim to make it feel more like a home,” he adds.
Touring the building is designed to be “a little journey of discovery” says McLean, “and even if people don’t know what all the drawings mean, we hope they’ll enjoy them anyway,” he adds.
Most of Mills’ illustrations were produced in small scale on paper before being projected and painted on to walls. “I’ve admired Roderick’s work for years, and his style felt really appropriate for the project – we wanted it to feel like someone had come along and customised the building in their own slightly subversive way,” says McLean. “He was really enthusiastic about it, producing lots of his own brainstorms and doodles,” he says.
Interabang was also asked to design something to recognise the charity’s supporters and in keeping with the homely/theatre theme, created ‘Your Name in Lights’: an installation made up of painted lightbulbs suspended from the ceiling bearing the names of friends and patrons.
“We thought of a wall with names on but wanted to do something unique that tied in with the aesthetic of the space,” says Giles. “It’s something we can add to, and we thought it was a charming idea for a theatre group,” he adds.
Interabang has designed several projects for Cardboard Citizens, including annual reviews and the identity for a fundraising dinner at Draper’s Hall, and the charity is one of the agency’s oldest clients.”This felt like the culmination of our work with them – it was a dream brief and a lot of fun to do,” says McLean.
See more images of the interior here.