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Design Threads: Writer’s Block


If you ever find yourself lost in an antique shop or flea market, we urge you to be on the lookout for an old letterpress block.

They are steeped in history and date back hundreds of years. Letters were carved into blocks of wood or etched into metal to create what’s called a ‘relief process of printing’.

These blocks are incredibly beautiful, and as with all antique finds, we love the idea of these being used in times gone by and imagining the craftsmen who would have handled them. It’s a wonderful feeling to think of these blocks being used for what was once a revolutionary process of printing. 

The cases in which the blocks sit can become a wonderful frame to display a collection of treasures from all walks of life, from a little feather bird to a zippy wind up Prince Charles toy or a tiny wooden train. These are items that are easily lost in drawers but each little souvenir has a personal history which should be displayed with pride! 

As a child, we had a very long letterpress block mounted on the wall filled with our favourite and tiniest toys.

Here at the Kit Kemp Design Studio, we have these frames made up by the brilliant Marcus Wells, who collects all kinds of curiosities from old phones to shells and keyrings. To keep the trinkets safe, we installed clear Perspex casings across the front.

If you can’t find your own writer’s block, even spice racks or segmented shelving can be a fun way to display your gems too.

At The Soho Hotel, we have even used the tables to display our treasured trinkets.  We collected hundreds of dinky tin car toys which we installed into table tops in our Refuel Bar & Restaurant.

Read our Creating a Collection post for more inspiration. Have a go yourself and create your own writer’s block. Tag us using #designthreads and @kitkempdesignthread. We would love to see your creations. 

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