On the wall of our bedroom, framed behind glass, is the first note I ever wrote to my partner. A silly string of words saying only “I asked for a piece of paper and they gave me a pen”, a small piece of paper carried around in a wallet for many years, it is a record of our relationship; evidence and artifact, a keepsake.

About the project

Keep/Delete encourages you to generate new keepsakes like this one, turning digital messages that are on the verge of being forgotten, deleted, outdated or even lost into something tangible; an artifact. Grab your old mobile phone and scroll through your current messages. Typically tied to specific people or particular moments in our lives, some messages want to be kept. Perhaps the last message from a friend who passed away, the first message from a grandparent still trying to figure out how to use predictive text, a cryptic love note or simply a well-timed message that was so appreciated at the time; these are the messages of Keep/Delete.

As designers we have the ability to turn these sentences into visual substance; typographic structure that can exist as both digital and tangible form. As physical objects, these fragments of communication become personal artifact.

In 2012, the project was gathered together in book form, highlighting the transformation of digital text-message into physical artefact. Designers submitted artifacts of a messages that were ‘wanting to be kept’, either from their own personal repository of messages or from their circle of friends and family. Along with these artifacts (across various types of media: eg. prints on paper, fabric, hand-lettered typography…) the book includes essays by designers that look critically at the ability for the graphic medium to archive the personal.

Here are some examples of artifacts that have been submitted.