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The Cardozo Kindersley Workshop

152 Victoria Road · Cambridge · CB4 3DZ · Telephone 01223 362170

History

David Kindersley

‘What is a Workshop? It is a place where workers work and build a microcosm of life. It is in many ways like a temple, a place of rethinking and dedication, echoing each passing day and adjusting to the demands of its hitherto unknown clientele.’ David Kindersley, ‘Letters Slate Cut’

In 1945 Kindersley moved to Cambridge, establishing his first fully-fledged lettercutting workshop at Dales Barn in the village of Barton. This was a time of stylistic liberation for Kindersley, in which he broke away from Gill in his decorative embellishments of cutting, in his growing predilection for lettering on slate and the combination of lettering with heraldry. But in the organisation of the workshop, and his aims for it, the sense of dynastic inheritance was strong.

Photograph of inscription

At Barton, Kindersley evolved his own ideas of wholeness, his mid-20th century development of Gill's ‘cell of good living in the chaos of our world’, the place of integration where bed and board, home and school and work and worship merge.

Though not formally religious, David Kindersley had a strongly contemplative side. He was a maker who was also a quester, deeply influenced by the writings of the Russian philosopher P. D. Ouspensky and for a time a member of the Walker Group, an Ouspenskyist self-help discussion group in London. His view of the workshop was always to remain essentially spiritual.

Photograph of inscription

The drawing, cutting, painting and fixing in position became a workshop ritual in which not just Kindersley and his assistants but the client, whose involvement was seen as the completion of the almost mystic triangle, all shared. Working out from this disciplined framework David Kindersley designed a number of typefaces and devised a computerised typesetting system, translating Ruskinian ideals of creative individuality and human judgment into 20th century technology.

The survival of a workshop culture in a post-war climate of industrial expansion preoccupied Kindersley through the 1950s and 1960s when he was a leading figure in the Designer Craftsman Society and the Crafts Council of Great Britain. of which he eventually became Chairman.

He moved his workshop from Barton to the 14th century Chesterton Tower in 1967 and then, ten years later, to the converted infants' school in Victoria Road, the premises the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop still occupies. In his succession of locations Kindersley was able to demonstrate how well a small, specialist, quasi familial grouping of crafts people could work to an impeccably high standard whilst sustaining itself financially.