OPEN - an exhibition by Mark Pawson

Carmelite Café presents an exhibition of OPEN & CLOSED signs from the collection of Mark Pawson (who we featured in January with his colelctions of Noggins).

This exhibition features approximately 50 signs - the majority of the collection, which will be added to as new OPEN & CLOSED Signs arrive during the run of the show.

Here's Mark's explanation:

"In 2002 I bought a beautiful OPEN & CLOSED Sign, which had evidently seen many years of use, at a North London car boot sale. It's a practical object which says OPEN in multicoloured Perspex letters on one side and CLOSED on the other side, it hangs from a short metal chain and is easily turned around by hand. No instructions are necessary to tell you how to use it, it's an intelligible useful item - but with an element of decoration shown in the typeface and colours used.
This discovery intrigued me, the sign was an ubiquitous everyday object, used daily in innumerable shops and cafes,  glanced at yet barely noticed or given closer attention, versions of which have existed, relatively unchanged for many decades.

I kept my eyes peeled for more signs and slowly a collection built up, comprised of OPEN & CLOSED Signs bought in the UK and USA, foreign language versions acquired abroad on trips to Morocco, Japan and Portugal and online purchases of new and used signs together with generous donations from friends accustomed to asking .'What are you collecting at the moment Mark ?'. All the OPEN & CLOSED Signs in this collection are straightforward double-sided signs, there's no flashing LEDs, moving mechanical parts or lists of daily opening times."

Mark Pawson is an artist, publisher, bookseller and lecturer.
Since being at school he's made and distributed a constant stream of books, postcards, badges, multiples, T-shirts and other essential ephemera, often inspired by collections. Examples of his work are in the collections of the Tate Gallery Library, London and MOMA Library, New York.

Carmelite Café

181 Bow Road, London, E3 2SJI

Opening:- Wed 17th July 6-9pm
17th July - 29th September 2013
10am - 5pm Tuesday - Sunday

View Mark's website here


Media Coverage

We were really pleased to be featured in the Metro, in a great article on collectors and their collections, entitled 'Stickers, Stamps and Star Wars... What do you like collecting?' The Metro is aimed at a truly wide and diverse audience, just as Obsessionsitas is (OK, maybe in a 'slightly' smaller way!). Every weekday morning some 1.3 million copies are distributed across the UK making Metro the world’s largest free newspaper and the third biggest newspaper in the UK.

The article is also featured in the online digital Metro too, which itself receives around 8.2m million unique visitors (of which 4.2m are from the UK), who visit the website each month.

So, a BIG thanks to Ross McGuiness for getting in touch and putting it together!


If you missed the print version then you can read the article online Here



You may have noticed a few changes on Obsessionistas recently, which might explain why we've been 'seemingly quiet' too!

Along with a significant redesign we've been having a bit of a spring clean as well. Our aim was for a cleaner and easier to navigate site whilst still retaining all the key elements of what makes Obsessionistas special... the vast wealth of featured collectors and the unique stories behind their collections.

We are really happy with the final results and hope you like the new look too (do let us know what you think). We'd also like to say thanks to Stuart Hobday for all his help with the new layouts and functions.

Other news... we are currently embarking on a new secret project that we're rather excited about, but if we told you what it was, we'd have to... (you know the rest).

So back to it then.

Graham & Helen



Whilst visiting this year’s ‘Postgraduate Work in Progress’ show earlier this week, at Central Saint Martins’ new Granary Building in London, we were particularly drawn to Songyi Lee’s Collectionism display.

Songyi, an MA Textile Futures student, explains her experimental project as:

How can Collectionism inform a new approach to material sourcing and design?

Collectionism is the tendency to acquire and retain objects, even when they are not of immediate usage. Within the context of our throwaway society, my project hopes to celebrate ‘collectionism’ behavior, aiming to facilitate a more meaningful relationship between objects and people, while finding new design solutions for ‘defunct’ technological components.”

She had very carefully deconstructed old mobile phones and cassette tapes, clustering the common components together to create new textile samples and/or tools to mould textures from, with interesting results. As it was a work in progress show, then we’re looking forward to seeing what Songyi produces next… to be revealed at the CSM degree show in June no doubt.

More information about the Work in Progress show is available here

Contact Songyi at


Egg cups (in early plastics)

...our latest collection at Obsessionistas HQ. Early plastics have their own charm and with names such as Parkesine, Casein, Bakelite and Celluloid they have their own devotees too. Egg cups, being both small and single component products, are great little time capsules of an emerging industry that our modern world of consumer products is now so dependent on. We spotted these 'characters' at a local antiques centre, and so it seems that early plastic egg cups have now established themselves as our latest 'little' obsession and as such are now firmly on our collections radar. That's collecting for you... once you start you just can't stop! Another bonus of course is that they are relatively cheap to buy, oh and not forgetttng that they make your boiled eggs looks rather special too... but who needs excuses anyway?