May 20, 2016

Unity Culture Club: On Your Radar – 20.05.16

Words. A picture may say a thousand of them, but today’s On Your Radar will focus on humble word’s return to power, as this week publishers announced that sales of printed books have grown for the first time in four years.

The shift indicates that people are now looking for a tangible experience with words – including their shape, design, type – as well as the tactile sensation of the printed page. People are realising that stories have more power when brought to life through direct, real-world experiences with words.


This week, Twitter relaxed its character count when users attach videos and photos to posts. According to Bloomberg (it’s not official yet), this will give users more freedom to compose longer messages. Perhaps a pop against rival image-led social networks, if Twitter do make this change it will allow users to return to the craft of writing (albeit still succinctly) – rather than relying on an image to communicate a message.

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The Positive Lexicography Project is an online glossary of untranslatable words to express life’s joys.

Tim Lomas, professor of psychology at East London University, hoped he would be able to help us recognise – and articulate – positive emotional states we’re experiencing; and perhaps open us up to new experiences and emotions.

There are now hundreds of entries, from mamihlapinatapei, the Yagán word meaning, ‘a look between people that expresses unspoken but mutual desire’ and queesting, Dutch for ‘allowing a lover access to one’s bed for chitchat’ to Ilunga, Tshiluba for ‘being ready to forgive a first time, tolerate a second time, but never a third time’ and maitri, Sanskrit for loving-kindness.

In a world where emojis and text speak are increasingly used for chatter, this project has filled us with dilshaadgii (Urdu; good cheer).

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From the power of the written word to the spoken…

An upcoming show sees seven women in seven beds whisper intimate childhood memories to individual audience members, performed in a busy public space on the Southbank.

In a world where we are burgeoned with ‘content’, these encounters indicate how direct experiences with words (however brief) can create a deeper, more vivid connection.

WHERE? Royal Festival Hall, London
WHEN? June 4 – 6
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Clerkenwell Design Week is just round the corner. The award-winning festival attracts thousands and is free to attend, with exhibitions, open showrooms, talks and spectacular street installations.

Even at a festival created to celebrate functional and visual design, there is still an appetite for the collaborative role between design and words. As such, our CDW pick is one from the Fringe events – and hosted by our new neighbours – at cult magazine store magCulture.

At this lunchtime talk, the co-founders of Fiera magazine will be in conversation with Steve Watson, founder of niche magazine subscription service Stack Magazines, talking about the creative process behind designing a magazine – and championing new talent.

WHERE? magCulture, 270 St John Street
WHEN? May 24, 12pm – 1pm
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5. SHHHHH...

In celebration of the power of words, next week we’ll be hosting a lyrically-led two-night residency in our basement events space. Unfortunately, those are all the words we can say about it for now, as our partners have sworn us to secrecy.

There will be more detail from the event in next week’s On Your Radar, but if you really are desperate for more and need it instantly, then email


And just one final word on the topic…

On our radar this week (but probably yours too), was NYC’s #post-it wars, where two ad agencies in Canal Street waged an elaborately creative war with each other – through employees spelling out messages, insults and doodles via post–it notes stuck to windows. Proof that using words, not weapons in war is far more effective.

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