Tuesday 9th October saw the opening of a month long WHP18 END OF STORE STREET EXHIBITION in collaboration with this month’s Design Manchester Festival of creativity and design. The Exhibition lasts until Sunday 4th November, showcasing some of the best photography and graphic artwork from Warehouse Project history. I was lucky enough to attend the exclusive launch party that took place at PLY in the Northern Quarter. WHP resident DJs Krysko, Greg Lord, and Will Tramp provided the soundtrack for the evening which fitted PLY’s edgy interior.
The Q&A event was hosted by Crack Magazine and featured Warehouse Project co-founder and Director Sam Kandel, graphic designer Paul Hemmingfield and photographers Sebastien Matthes and Pippa Rankin for a series of discussions. The evening of talks and wine focused on creative highlights from WHP history, philosophy of the company, and reflections over the past 13 seasons.
Sam Kandel (co-founder and director) explained the objective of WHP was to establish an exciting and anticipated event, something different to a “normal club night”, incorporating sci-fi and futuristic elements, with a look to the past by conveying an “acid house spirit”.
The dove that has become the symbol of WHP has been used since 2008 and was chosen due to its link to 90s acid house raves. To delve further into the company’s creative philosophy, we can look to the 2007 season, which saw the launch of a huge marketing campaign. Paul Hemmingfield, the original graphic designer, explained the colour coding campaign in which a colour corresponded to a letter then spelt a word. To give an example: on the dove, the colours you see running down the wings spell ‘warehouse’ and along the bottom spells ‘project’. Given that Store Street was an air raid shelter during the Second World War, the team wanted to create a type of enigma code that would reflect the venue’s history through its brand identity.
Sebastien Matthes, original WHP photographer from 2006, discussed the aesthetics and goals of his photography. His vision of WHP was to capture images that were abstract, atmospheric and raw. In complete contrast to glitzy shots of people drinking cocktails, the collection of photographs displayed around PLY show some of the best WHP images. A lot of the visuals capture silhouettes surrounded by brickwork in an abstract underground setting. One of my favourites was a 2009 photograph of a couple sharing an intimate moment. Everyone around them is ecstatic but this image captures a beautiful moment of their WHP experience, something that is different for everyone but still universally incredible.
To finish the talk, there was an opportunity for a question and answer session. I proposed a question to the Director, Sam Kandel. In light of WHP’s final season at the legendary Store Street, I was eager to know if the change in venue would mean a change in the atmosphere and dynamic of WHP, or if the brand has instead become so much more than just Store Street.
He replied: “Well… that really is a million-dollar question. The truth is, we don’t know what it’s going to be like”. Likewise, they didn’t know back in 2006 just how successful it was to become.
When asked whether WHP would expand to any other UK city, the director and designers were quick to establish the fact it would remain solely in Manchester. The crowd cheered at this. Linked inextricably to Mancunian culture and nightlife, the people of Manchester and beyond are proud and love all that Warehouse Project has done for them, hosting the biggest names in techno and drum ‘n’ bass music every autumn weekend.