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Clare Hughes

Thu, Sep 21, 2017    7pm

Clare Hughes
Fudgehenge: Spatial Storytelling and Designing for Heritage

From Taipei to New York to London, human beings are hard-wired for story. As social animals, we naturally connect with emotionally-rich content much more easily than with hard facts. Advertising executives have understood this for a long time, but what does this mean for designers working in content-rich environments like historic buildings, heritage environments or museums and art galleries? In this short talk, Clare Hughes will explore the relationship between story and space, how each might influence the other to create a compelling and viable spatial experience. Clare will ask you to consider whose stories we are telling and whose values drive those stories. Drawing her own architectural projects with important historic buildings she will ask you to think about what lies behind the stories we want to tell and how to frame a narrative that both respects the life of the building while sustaining its future role in our society.


After ten years as a documentary film-maker with the BBC in London, Clare Hughes retrained in Historic Building Conservation and Textile Design. She joined London-based architecture practice Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios in 2003 where she worked in the Historic Buildings team for many years. Through this work and the spatial stories that are intrinsic to all historic structures, Clare developed a unique role as narrative designer curator and film-maker. Her current role as Director at Thinc Design in New York City brings all these spatial and story-telling skills to bear on exhibit design across the globe.

The thinking around narrative design is still in its infancy and she considers her work to be a continual form of inquiry. By dissolving the perceived boundaries between different design disciplines Clare believes we can create much more exciting and meaningful experiences. So she works with performance, technology, scenography, textiles and film and, of course, the Word!

In 2015 Clare was awarded the prestigious Churchill Travelling Fellowship to explore the future of museums across the USA and Europe. The publication of her Fellowship adventures Made You Look, Made You Stare has been received as an important contribution to the understanding of museums in the 21st century.

Some recent projects include the refurbishment of a major Victorian pleasure palace in North London, the repair and adaptation of an internationally important cultural center from the late 1960s and a 19th-century ceramics factory. Her belief is that architecture and storytelling can spark the imagination and, sometimes, help ignite change to make the world a better place.