Saturday, August 22, 2009

Past Graduates - Lucy Carter, Lucy or Robert

Holocaust Exhibition, The Imperial War Museum, London

Darwin Centre, Natural History Museum, London

Spectrum - Trade Exhibition Stand

Landscape: Hardwick Park

Historic Houses: Kew Palace
Top: Letterpress homage to the C18 seditious pamphlet
‘The North Briton’
Centre: Caslon Ornaments


Workplace Graphics: Praxis Banners

National Portrait Gallery, London

Lucy studied Design [Communications] at AIT from 1991-94, along with Simon Roche (see Simon’s profile below…). She then went on to gain an MA at Central St Martin's School of Art and Design, and although the MA course was in a period of upheaval it did at least instill a measure of resilience and self reliance in her. A year in publishing gave Lucy a huge grounding in the technical aspects of production that is rarely taught at college. It also convinced her to go freelance - to work for herself.

Lucy formed the London-based design studio ‘Lucy or Robert’ in 1998 with her partner and husband Robert Carter. The studio's first two projects couldn't have been more different from each other: one was a fine art photography book, Venise; the other a trade exhibition stand for a sign company, for which Lucy or Robert devised a narrative based on the communication between worker bees, transposing the human office worker for the bee with fees instead of honey, using all manner of signing techniques to deliver the story. The latter project shaped the studio's direction taking them out of the familiar comfort zone of print and into the 3D environment.

Their current projects almost always involve words and images in the built environment: museums, galleries, workplaces, gardens, public spaces: they do a stunning line in toilets too. Complex projects can take up to four years to complete and are undertaken as part of a team which can comprise of any or all of the following: architects, exhibition designers, lighting designers, sound designers, illustrators, A/V companies, curators, writers, historians, case dressers, conservators, picture researchers and access forums. Production work varies with every project: one led to designing crockery; another to selecting young lime tress for an avenue.

Two new projects are opening soon. The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford will open 39 new galleries to the public; Lucy or Robert have worked with the Museum's team since 2005, beginning with masterplanning a graphic strategy and culminating in the detailed design of six of those galleries, while the remainder are detailed by the Museum's own in-house graphics department. The studio produced the design concept and much of the detailed design work for the Natural History Museum's Darwin Centre which opens in October.

The Holocaust exhibition, which was Lucy or Robert's first major exhibition project, remains their yardstick. The project was identified by the National Lottery Commission as a benchmark for interpretive exhibition design, received a D&AD commendation in 2001 and was commended by the European Museum Forum in 2003. The studio moved from London to Bruton in Somerset two years ago, where the country air is doing it good.

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