Lucie Rie: Adventures in Pottery

Lucie Rie once said, “To make pottery is an adventure to me, every new work is a new beginning”

David Kohn Architects lead on the design of this exhibition of Dame Lucie Rie's exquisite ceramics, including hand made buttons, jewellery and tea sets. The earliest piece is from her origins as a potter in 1920's Vienna and the last piece in the show was made at Rie's London home & studio when she was in her late 80s and by then an established artist with an international reputation.

Co-curated by MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) and Kettle's Yard, our design brief was to develop bespoke display furniture that allowed Rie's work to be grouped in different arrangements and viewed up close. Our response was a series of modular mild steel plinths that can be arranged in the galleries, as individual objects, or in series which allowed the curation of the show to evolve. The modularity of this system allowed the plinths to be disassembled and transported when the exhibition moved from Middlesbrough to Cambridge.

A further part of our brief was around re-use, as the plinths would return to MIMA, when the Lucie Rie exhibition ends, and be used for display in their permanent collection. Middlesbrough has a long established history with the steel industry and we worked with a local fabricator to deliver the design of the metalwork elements. Other local crafts people were also employed in the fabrication of the acrylic hoods, fabric insert panels and display signage. 

Elinor Morgan, Artistic Director at MIMA comments: “This exhibition foregrounds Lucie Rie as an innovator whose beguiling ceramics and incredible making techniques laid the groundwork for many others. It is an opportunity to focus on a lifetime of her pots and we are excited to welcome to MIMA those encountering Rie’s work for the first time as well as art and craft enthusiasts who know her work. We invite you to look again and look closer.”

Exhibition Design

Middlesbrough & Cambridge, United Kingdom 

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge 

Completed 2022

Design Team 
David Kohn, Paul O'Brien, Emiliano Zavala, Ayse Canci, Laura Büchi, Will Barker

Graphic Identity
A Practice for Everyday Life

Cow Sike Workshop

Lucie Rie: The Adventure of Pottery, Kettle's Yard Exhibition Layout
Lucie Rie: The Adventure of Pottery, MIMA Exhibition Layout
Plinth Design