V&A picks Cartlidge Levene for ceramics centenary task

The Ceramics Galleries at the Victoria & Albert Museum are being refurbished to celebrate their centenary in 2009, with identity, graphics and wayfinding by Cartlidge Levene.

The Ceramics Galleries at the Victoria & Albert Museum are being refurbished to celebrate their centenary in 2009, with identity, graphics and wayfinding by Cartlidge Levene.

With a design update by architect Stanton Williams, the reworked galleries will include a major introductory space, presenting a world history of ceramics, highlighting connections between ceramics of different cultures and periods.

Another gallery will be devoted to ceramic materials and techniques, and there will be smaller rooms for temporary exhibitions, changing displays and the study collections of 20th century pottery and architectural ceramics.

Cartlidge Levene was appointed to the design work after a three-way credentials pitch. The consultancy will be responsible for the identity design of the overall gallery, including its visual identity, interpretive information, wayfinding and maps for visitors.

The consultancy’s brief for the work includes developing an integrated approach to the design of interactive devices and hands-on elements for the public, and display case labelling.

The design work on the galleries, which are top-lit spaces built in 1909, will be split over two phases. Phase one covers about 1300m2, and houses up to 3000 objects.

‘The design will be about engaging with the public and there will be a lot of interactive devices to show how ceramics are made, which we will be very involved in,’ says Cartlidge Levene partner Ian Cartlidge. ‘The interactive devices will tell stories and get the message across. There will be quite a few challenges overall, such as how to label the icons in the beautiful cases, but we will look at all of those and work with the architect and the V&A curatorial team to come up with solutions.’

The V&A’s collections cover the history of ceramic production from the third millennium BC to the present day, ranging from ancient Egyptian artefacts to contemporary studio pottery and industrially designed ceramics. It is scheduled to reopen in 2009, in time for the centenary.

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