Putting the Rock back in Rhyl

Loizeau, Jimmy and Ward, Matt. 2015. Putting the Rock back in Rhyl. [Design]

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Abstract or Description

During the initial fieldwork for The Illegal Town Plan, Lozeau and Ward stopped at a beach front souvenir shop to buy gifts for their children. After surveying the diverse range of seaside confectionery, they asked the Vendor for sticks of ‘Rhyl rock’. “Oh no, we don’t do Rhyl Rock anymore” the shopkeeper said, “it’s just not economically viable”. The iconic souvenir from Rhyl’s past had been destroyed by the unfortunately economic principle of supply and demand. Some would dismiss the loss of this overly sickly sweet as meaningless, particularly when faced with the rapid economic decline of British coastal towns, but as designers we felt it was symbolic of a cultural demise which we wished to resist.

‘Putting the Rock back in Rhyl’ was the first design intervention by Loizeau and Ward to reverse the town’s decline; a hopeful act aimed to celebrate the glory days of sticky treats and a vibrant tourist industry. Through the design and commission of new Rhyl rock, made in collaboration with John Bull Confectioners, the intervention operated in three main ways;

A calling card or gift to participants - a friendly welcome allowing participants to imagine the reversal of Rhyl’s decline.

A social contract - the rock was distributed to vendors across the town with the agreement that 50% of the profits were donated to a local charity.

A momentary reversal (of a towns fortunes with minty sugary confectionary). At this point in the project, the Rock was the only deliverable ‘reversal’ we could achieve. A tiny fragment of an alternative ‘image of the future’. This way town branded sweets reintroduced as nostalgic or hopeful gesture opened up new possibilities for different communities to discuss the long term planning of the their material environment.

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Date Deposited:

19 Nov 2021 14:39

Last Modified:

19 Nov 2021 14:40



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