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Joy of Living

Design celebrates life in an exhibit benefitting cutting-edge cancer care

by Leonora Oppenheim in Design on 14 March 2011

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After the British design curator Max Fraser lost his mother to cancer a few years ago, he vowed to do something to help others fight the disease; the Joy of Living project is his contribution. Design-focused through and through, the project raises money for the architect-designed retreats Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres and brings together an impressive collection of the best of British design talent.

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Over 100 designers—including stars such as Terence Conran, Tom Dixon, Barber Osgerby, John Pawson, Tomoko Azumi, Stuart Haygarth and Michael Marriott— each submitted an artwork on a piece of A4 graph paper that responds in some way to the title of the show. The resulting eclectic range of creative responses all sell for £250, but buyers won't know who's behind the work they've bought until after their transaction takes place. Max says this anonymous element to the show reflects "the democratic values at the core of Maggie's philosophy" and ensures that supporters are buying a piece "to which they have a true emotional response."

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But given that this exhibition shows off the best of the design world, naturally an element of competitiveness is involved. Adding a little extra incentive to the proceedings are two prizes, one for the best art work, as judged by a design jury, and one for the most popular artwork, as judged by the public. Winners will be awarded £1000 and £500 respectively.

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Max Fraser is aiming to raise a whopping £50,000 for Maggie's through the Joy of Living project. You can follow his progress on Twitter, @JoyOfLiving2011, and visit the exhibit through 21 March 2011.

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We love the upbeat nature of this amazing fundraising effort that celebrates creative life rather than mourning death. Max quotes charity founder Maggie Keswick Jencks when talking about the inspiration for this project, "Above all what matters is not to lose the joy of living in the fear of dying."

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