Emma Melville
Tried & True

  • 2020

    Submission # 10

  • Output

    Student – Ākonga

  • Kaupapa

    Identity – People & Culture

    Identity – Place

  • Location

    Auckland, Tāmaki Makaurau

Project Overview:
Tried & True is history preserved through design. A memoir to my family heritage, distilled in the form of a recipe collection. It is an embodiment of the Pickworth family approach to food that reflects the values of hospitality, generosity and gathering. Family stories and imagery are woven through the recipes. It is a testament to their lives and the preservation of history for the next generation.

As a brand identity designer, I began to question how a designer’s personal and professional identity influences practice. Often designers develop a signature style that can be attributed to their identity, including their history and experiences. In the current climate, it has shown how vulnerable the older generation is and the importance of preserving identity. It sparked my own inquiry into my personal heritage and what has been influential on myself as a designer, particularly my upbringing and family history.

As an acknowledgment of these aspects contributing to my identity, I have paid homage through a designed recipe collection. An embodiment of my family's approach to food, distilling moments in time and family values. Tried & True sits in the space between a cookery resource and a historic archive. It intends to capture and preserve my family history in the form of a publication. The publication brings together recipes, photographs and stories into a distilled form that acts as a keepsake.

The aim of the publication is to be more than a recipe book by weaving a story through the pages. A story told through both words and imagery. Historic family photos add to the heritage feel and correspond to the recipes. A thread of time has been created through the publication that travels from past to present. Each recipe section represents a period of history, and the audience experiences the lives of generations growing up as Tried & True develops.

Tried & True is formed around my mother’s family, the Pickworths. Her family grew up in rural Southland, where it is beautiful but rugged and remote. A lot of their produce came from the land and they made do with what they had. The name itself encompasses the Pickworth family love of comfort food and failsafe recipes. I intended to capture this feeling of authenticity and nature through deep neutral shades and typography that evoked heritage tones.

Gathering and organising content has been a large part of this project. The recipes have been pieced together from typewritten family books. An important part of differentiating Tried & True is the family stories that are intertwined within the recipes. It creates a sense of place and time when the recipes were written and the significance to family.

As an extension of my content gathering, I conducted informal interviews with family members to form dialogue around their childhood food memories. It has created a publication that communicates the different voices within my family.

I recreated the ring binder to capture a sense of the history that traverses from the old family recipe folders. I worked in both the bindery and the laser cutting workshops to personally hand make the case. It creates a space where recipes are fluid and can be removed or added. The design is consistent with archiving and preserving history, the central theme of my publication. It allows for growth as the recipes are passed down to future generations.

To extend the visual content and layout of the recipe layers have been created with scans of old family recipes. This provides context as well as highlighting the relationship between old and new. A notes section has been designed to build on the intensely personal tone of the publication as well as forming a living document that grows with the generations.

The style of food photography is natural and organic, showcasing the food without frills. All the food photographed was made by family members with the intention of eating that I have documented through this project.

Tried & True was designed with the intention of preserving history through design. The final outcome is a highly considered publication that preserves my family history for the next generation. Tried & True has become an artifact that transverses the idea of storytelling through the mediums of photographs and writing. It is a keepsake as well as a beautiful resource.

Archiver’s Response:

Storytelling, design sensibility and the functionality of this artifact have all been carefully considered to produce this beautifully crafted keepsake. This project captures the essence and importance of family and manaakitanga.

Credits & Collaborators:
Designer - Emma Melville
Teacher/Tutor - Kim Meek, George Hajian

Tried True
Tried True Cover
Archive Submission
Tried True Section 1
Tried True Recipe 1
Tried True Recipe 2
Tried True Section 2
Tried True Recipe 3
Archive Submission
Tried True Recipe 5
Tried True Index

More by
Emma Melville