Lucienne Roberts joined by Rebecca Wright

Coming from a practical Graphic Design background describes her job as a non solo occupation. Moreover the + sign in her studio name indicates the importance of being socially connected in practice.

Talking about her influences such as political activism as well as feminism she quotes Woody Allen, who describes work as ‘a quality distraction’. A portrait of Allen on her desk inspires her to follow this approach.


Lucienne Roberts, photo © Jason WenLucienne Roberts at TYPO London 2012 photo by Jason Wen
When Ken Garland published his manifesto ‘First things first’ it expressed the importance to take on social responsibility for her work and this is clearly what she does.

Presenting her work as well as their social aspects of it in a series of case studies she reveals that not only the subject matter itself is important but also the combination of client, public engagement, sustainability and educational expression.

Recently she collaborates with Rebecca Wright to form ‘Graphic Design &’ to build a platform that questions how graphic design can connect to other subjects.

The first book Lucienne published together with Rebecca Wright under Graphic Design &  (Design Diaries: Creative Process in Graphic Design) was an honest approach to find out how designers engage with the subject. In hindsight the result was a book for designers which opened up the main question: How to engage non-designers? Their aim to produce a book that reaches everyone then explored in the second publication ‘Page 1, Great Expectations’ in which they asked 70 participants to design the first page of Charles Dickons Great Expectations. A project which was also covered by non-design publications.


Lucienne Roberts

Lucienne Roberts entered the fray of design practice with a utopian zeal that has never left her. In both sans+baum and her current studio LucienneRoberts+ her intention is to make accessible, engaging graphic design with a socially aware agenda. Influenced as much by feminism as Swiss typography, she believes that ethical design is defined by its ability to increase quality of life alongside the messages it conveys, and places emphasis on clear thinking, visual simplicity and the application of craft skills. Projects include exhibition design for the Wellcome Collection, British Council and The Women's Library; identities for the Petrie Museum, the David Miliband campaign and AVA Academia; and book design for the Design Museum, Triangle Arts Trust and Panos London. Alongside studio-based work, Lucienne writes, lectures and publishes on her subject. A signatory of the First Things First 2000 manifesto, her books include The Designer and the Grid [Rotovision, 2002] and Good: An Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design [AVA Academia, 2006]. Her latest book, Design Diaries: Creative Process in Graphic Design [Laurence King, 2010] was co-written with Rebecca Wright. With Rebecca, Lucienne is co-founder of GraphicDesign& a pioneering publishing house dedicated to creating intelligent, vivid books that explore how graphic design connects with all other things and the value that it brings. Its first book Page 1: Great Expectations explored GraphicDesign& Literature and was published in April 2012 to rave reviews. GraphicDesign& Mathematics, GraphicDesign& Religion and GraphicDesign& Social Science titles will be published in 2013. At TYPO London Lucienne will be joined by design educator and writer Rebecca Wright and social scientist Nikandre Kopcke.

As final part of their talk Lucienne and Rebecca introduced a social scientist who will analyse the page 1 project from her point of view. She gave us a brief insight on gender, age and nationality of the participants of projects. We are looking forward to seeing the result in the next GD& publication.

We are deeply impressed by this honest and social approach.

Text — Sandra and Julia / Graphic Birdwatching