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Creative Mapping: Design and Architecture Lab by Charlene Prempeh

A woman in a red jumper speaking

Charlene Prempeh at Creative Mapping: Design and Architecture Lab.
Photo credit: Jemima Yong


When we gathered in early March, it was ostensibly a moment to explore the resource needs of a community of design and cultural practitioners. We were to commune in a library and though it was purposefully unclear where things would end, there was a sense that the main take out would be a professional one. What transpired that day felt more spiritual and elemental-we were reminded of the role that design plays in helping us to understand ourselves, our values and our community. It was a moment of respite from what many described as a treadmill of doing. Instead, we all luxuriated in the swell of ideas that can arise when there is no goal other than to connect.


An Exercise in Values

One of the first things that can be lost in the relentless wheel of doing is the ‘why’, so the workshop ran by Nate Agbetu on values felt incredibly grounding for the group. Some of the thoughts that arose are below. Overwhelmingly, what people valued was character and community and it set the tone for a day where attendees thought about design not in relation to their individual discipline or experience, but in relation to who they were as people:

I’m concerned with people and the way they think, create, and communicate. I’m driven by my belief that integrioty drives empathy and human connection needs this to evolve…Human connection is power.

I value things that are generating in between.

Exist, interact, connect, do/create, gather/create, reflect, rest, repeat.

Plantain eater


Plantain Eater

Mischief Manner

Plantain Eater

Helping family, friends, and people

I care about people and how design of all types impacts people’s daily experience.

I value experience.

I value hard work.

I value courage.

I value honesty,

I value simplicity.


The Book of Dreams

When Nana Biamah-Ofosu, YAA Projects, asked the group to consider both what an archive is and how it was formed ,we reflected on the idea of a living archive where a ‘relatively random collection of works, whose movement appears simply to be propelled from one creative production to the next, is at the point of becoming something more ordered and considered: an object of reflection and debate”

The readings we communally sourced spoke to a breadth of experience where design featured but didn’t dominate-An archive featuring Feelings, Trauma, Sexuality and Lesbian Public Cultures by Ann Cvetkovich is representative of how much identity we sought to archive, The Cultures of Collecting by Roger Cardinal and John Elsner reflected our concerns about the philosophy of collecting and the overlap of aesthetics and politics can be seen with the inclusion of Theaster Gates: My Labor Is My Protest, White Cube.

Again, it felt even in this archiving session that we were responding to the original questions: What do you care about? What do you Love? What are your truest values.



There’s an irony to writing this-it comes in a phase where work and life has felt overwhelming and the idea of anchoring into the ‘why’ versus the ‘what’ is difficult, but I am reminded by this work that though it is hard, it’s also necessary. We left the library rejuvenated creatively and there’s no better place to act from. Of course, the point of a library is to educate and learn but it’s also a moment to pause.  So do pause, I tell myself. Do Pause.


Charlene Prempeh is the founder of A Vibe Called Tech, a creative studio and art consultancy that is dedicated to approaching creativity through an intersectional lens. Charlene is also a Financial Times HTSI columnist and contributing editor who writes about design, travel, and culture. After studying PPE at Oxford University, she began a career in marketing and worked at some of the UK’s most prominent media platforms and art institutions including the BBC, The Guardian, and Frieze. Charlene currently consults for the Royal Academy of Arts on partnerships and development, is on the board for Tate Enterprise, and is Chair of the Frieze 91 committee. Charlene’s debut book, Now You See Me: 100 Years of Black Design was published by Prestel in 2023.