Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright met each other 15 years ago, and bonded instantly over a shared love of literature, childhoods spent in Surrey, and a keen interest in the transformative power of design. The pair set up GraphicDesign& in 2010, with the aim of using books and exhibitions to explore graphic design through a new lens – uncovering its connections with everything from religion and maths to politics and health. Roberts and Wright now balance running the company with careers in graphic design and education, respectively. They discuss what it takes to make a partnership work, how competition can become a killer, and why friendship helps sustain creativity.
Rebecca Wright: We met through an ex-boyfriend of mine, and I always say the relationship ended but Lucie stayed. I was introduced to her at a private view, and we had a coffee afterwards and quite quickly worked out that we had lots in common, while having enough differences to make the conversation interesting. Lucie was working on a book – Drip-Dry Shirts: The Evolution of the Graphic Designer – and she needed the biographies of the contributors writing. I’d never written like that before, so it was a nice challenge. It also meant Lucie and I had very long phone conversations, and a friendship developed. We worked out we had some key interests and preoccupations, in relation to graphic design, that overlapped.
Lucienne Roberts: I’d been getting more and more involved with publishing, and books were a significant thing at that point for me and the studio. We talked a lot about our love of books, and their value.
RW: My father was a publisher, and I’d grown up with books as part of my identity. I’d studied illustration at the Royal College of Art, but I was moving away from image-making and more into telling stories.