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  • Paul Anthony Jones


(n.) a period of intense work undertaken to hit a deadline

artist's charette trolley

A charette is a period of intense work carried out in order to hit a deadline.

No experience of that here at all, of course. Nope. None whatsoever. HH is always totally well organised and days—nay, weeks ahead of schedule.

Moving on. As some of you clever, clever people pointed out on Twitter, that word literally means ‘cart’ or ‘chariot’ in French, and derives from a curious tradition once employed at art schools in nineteenth century France.

At the Paris École des Beaux-Arts, design and architecture students approaching their deadlines would often pull all-nighters to ensure that their work was submitted on time. (Or, according to some accounts, their tutors would arrange assessments with deliberately tight deadlines that would require their students to work day and night to complete them.) As the students beavered away in their studios, a cart or charette would be drawn among them, onto which their completed models and sketches would be placed as and when they were ready for submission. When the deadline finally arrived, any work not placed on the cart was not accepted for assessment.

This feverish rush to make a deadline ultimately became know as a nuit de charette, or ‘charette night’, and as time went by the term fell into use in English and eventually came to refer to any frantic, last-minute period of work.

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