The ultimate deck of cards

As the housing market is on the brink of disaster, famous designers Damien Hirst, Vivienne Westwood and Ron Arad design playing cards for a homeless charity

"I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down," snarled the big bad wolf to the three little pigs. It's not just pink piglets that live in fear; to have your home ripped away from you is an increasing concern in Britain as more houses are being repossessed because of the struggling property market. This month, famous names have contributed art to the homeless charity Shelter's House of Cards campaign to raise awareness of our country's housing crisis.

Search for the perfect furniture with The Independent house and home database, powered by mydeco.

Of the 200 events for London Design Festival later this month, few can be so worthy as the House of Cards exhibition hosted by Shelter at the Haunch of Venison gallery (24-28 September). With the property market on the verge of collapse, celebrated artists and designers including Damien Hirst, Vivienne Westwood and Ron Arad have donated pieces of art based on a playing card that will be auctioned in aid of Shelter. The charity is highlighting the fragility of housing by comparing it to a house built of playing cards. One puff and it can crumble.

"It's such a poignant issue, and so now," designer-maker Ella Doran - who has donated art to the exhibition - told me. "The number of people, of families, who are losing their homes through repossession and having to turn to Shelter is scary."

According to Sam Younger, chief executive for Shelter, an estimated 65,000 homes are facing repossession this year and six million households are suffering stress and depression because of housing costs. He said, "More and more people are coming to Shelter for help and support."

Shelter invited 51 well known artists to create their own representation of a given playing card using any medium, size or shape. It could be photography, textiles, illustration, graphic design, street art, painting or even sculpture. The 52nd card, a Darwin-inspired illustration of a hybrid of a beetle and an octopus, is designed by London-based artist Mauricio Ortiz who won a competition open to the public. Contributing artists include Rankin (King of Diamonds), Vivienne Westwood (Queen of Spades), Damien Hirst (Ace of Hearts), David Bailey (King of Clubs), and several designers including Sophie Conran (Four of Spades) and Sir Terence Conran (Ten of Spades), the architects Ron Arad (Two of Spades) and Amanda Levete (Four of Hearts).

Doran used the literal concept of having shelter for her design (Three of Diamonds); "My piece is a pillow so it's really about having somewhere to rest your head." Others were less figurative. While fashion designer Henry Holland looked to frocks for imagination for his Four of Diamonds design, cookery writer and designer Sophie Conran used hand pressed paper with pressed leaves to create the Four of Spades. Her father Sir Terence Conran created the Ten of Spades as a self-portrait and jewellery designer Stephen Webster used nickel silver and crystals to craft the Ten of Diamonds. Young British Artist Mark Quinn has created the joker of the pack.

The artists' contributions for the exhibition add more kudos to the already celebrity-packed House of Cards campaign for Shelter. Samantha Morton, who herself experienced homelessness before becoming a famous actress, did the voiceover for their haunting 60-second TV commercial. The music was by Radiohead who donated the rights to use their track Videotape. The advert takes us through housing estates revealing buildings made of playing cards in various state of collapse. A gust of wind can blow down a home and focuses on the vulnerability of people affected by repossession.

"It's all the more humbling that the exhibition is happening during London Design Festival, the week when we celebrate design, houses and the interior," observes Doran, who is also selling customized placemats in aid of Shelter in her Cheshire Street shop. "It's great that we are able to produce beautiful designs but this exhibition should almost act as a rain check."

While the rest of the city is over run by cutting edge design this month, a corner in the West End will be raising awareness for the homeless. It’s time to batten down from the big bad wolf.

Annie Deakin is Editor of mydeco.com

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?