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Ministry of Stories

Project Type:
Branding | Print

Ministry of Stories

The Ministry of Stories is a brilliant creative writing and mentoring centre in Hackney, which offers free one-to-one tuition for local children aged 8 to 18. Alistair was a co-founder of the project in 2010, has been its Art Director and designer-in-chief since then.

Here’s the story of how it came about.

Way back in April 2008 we posted on our old blog about author Dave Eggers’ inspiring TED talk about his brilliant 826 literacy project. We asked if anyone was going to be setting up something similar in London. On the back of that post we met up with the wonderful Lucy Macnab and Ben Payne, and chatted loosely about how a London version of 826 might work. Things pootled along gently for a while, until Lucy and Ben secured support for the project from the Arts Council, as well as seed-funding from the JJ Charitable Trust, and things suddenly stepped up a gear, particularly when author Nick Hornby, who had been thinking about setting up something similar himself, joined the gang.

More than two years later, after many, many, many meetings, and gargantuan efforts from Nick, Lucy and Ben (and a veritable host of others), and we launched the Ministry of Stories on Hoxton Street in east London. (Check out some of the press coverage from the BBC and The Guardian.)


The Ministry follows the model of the 826 organisation: writing centres where children and young people aged 8-18 can get one-to-one tuition with professional writers and other volunteers.

Each of the centres is housed within a fantastical shop, designed to fire the kids’ imaginations, and generate income for the writing centre. In our case, the shop is Hoxton Street Monster Supplies – Purveyor of Quality Goods for Monsters of Every Kind; with the shelves of the shop hiding a disguised entrance that opens onto the Ministry of Stories. (Read more about our work on the shop.)


We designed the interior of the Ministry to be both functional and welcoming. For the main room we kept to a minimal colour palette, enhanced with wonderful wall illustrations by Heather Sloane. There’s even a wall of adjectives for when you need a little inspiration. You can see the back of the shop shelves in the picture below.


We were responsible for the Ministry identity and the overall creative direction of the project. We’ve designed leaflets, posters, email newsletters, anthologies, banners, and all manner of other bits and bobs over the past few years. Even a Ministerial despatch box to take on a visit to Downing Street.


Since setting up, the Ministry has worked with over 10,000 young people in volunteer-supported workshops and writing projects.

One of the core aspects of the Ministry is publishing the young writers’ work. Alistair oversees a fantastic roster of design volunteers who have created newspapers, picture books, short films, even an album of music, Share More Air.


You can find out more about the Ministry (and get involved) on the Ministry website (designed by Fiasco Design with art direction by us), the MoS Facebook page, and the MoS Twitter feed. You can also read this case study of the project from D&AD.


In the meantime, here’s a picture of Dave Eggers and Nick Hornby enjoying a jar of Thickest Human Snot in the shop.