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Igniting a passion for interdisciplinary interactive design

For Lucy Hardcastle (MA Information Experience Design, 2017), studying at the RCA expanded the possibilities and potential of her work.

Two thirds of our graduates say they use the skills they learned at the RCA every day.
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Similarly to the majority of RCA graduates, Lucy Hardcastle’s time at the RCA had a positive impact on her career. Two thirds of our graduates say they use the skills they learned at the RCA every day. In Lucy’s case these skills are put to use as creative director of her interdisciplinary studio Lucy Hardcastle Studio, where she has worked with a range of clients including Chanel, Adidas, Levis, Uniqlo, IDEO and Apple on projects that explore the tensions between physical and virtual worlds through interactive technologies, moving image, 3D visuals, objects and spaces. 
Read on to find out how studying Information Experience Design at the RCA led to Lucy following in the footsteps of a third of RCA graduates who set up their own businesses or are independent professionals. 

Why did you decide to set up your own studio?

The kind of work I wanted to make needed more than myself involved, it needed a team, so that’s how the studio formed. I was doing such a range of things it made sense to have a banner that everything could exist under. 

The kind of work I wanted to make needed more than myself involved, it needed a team
Lucy Hardcastle
What kind of projects have you worked on and how did these come about?

I’m really lucky that a lot of brands come to me because they specifically want something that’s from my voice, so commission me as a collaboration. The first big name I worked with was Chanel, specifically the fragrance part of the company, for a commission produced through i-D magazine. That was a really big project I got while I was at the RCA, so I was juggling lots of balls at the same time.

A recent enjoyable but challenging project was Kalostasis, which I did with the V&A, King’s College and Cellule Studio, for London Design Festival. We worked with the Biomedical Engineering & Imaging team at King’s College, specifically the cardiovascular team. It was really interesting to find a way to translate their research into something that could be digestible, fun and kind of sexy and exciting.

Lucy Hardcastle
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© Yes | Photographer: Lucy Hardcastle

You explore touch in fashion and experience through your work, what drew you to those subjects?

I’ve always been a visual person and using things like touch, texture, tactility, to me that’s a really strong way of making work that’s able to evoke emotion. Interactive design is what I’m really passionate about.  I love making work where there’s almost an unexpected trigger to it that’s caused or influenced by the audience or user.

To what extent did the RCA influence who you are now?

Before the RCA I definitely was in a kind of closed bubble and I really wanted to go there to be thrown into the deep end and really be challenged, which is definitely what happened. The RCA totally expanded possibilities and potential that I had considered for my work and made me realise that being an interactive, interdisciplinarity explorative creative was okay.

The RCA totally expanded possibilities and potential that I had considered for my work
Lucy Hardcastle
How would you sum up the IED programme?

I would describe IED as interactive design that’s grounded in research, and it’s finding new ways to communicate it through new media, maybe visual, could be audio, could be artistic.

What made you choose IED at the RCA?

I have a background in textile design and was working freelance doing fashion print work and directing music videos. I didn’t feel challenged by making things that were flat or screen-based. That’s why I was drawn to the IED course at the RCA - I was really excited by the idea of interactive design and making work that was about experiences that put the user first.

What was your cohort like and do you feel part of the RCA network as an alumni?

Everyone who was in my year kind of came from a different background, bringing different things to the table, which was amazing for things like group projects. You had programmers, fine art people, a lot of engineers - that was a very interesting clash and combination. I made some really great lifelong friends when I was there. 

All the tutors were doing really interesting things, and I still go to events that either tutors or associates put on.

For me the RCA was all about what it means to be a visual communicator
Lucy Hardcastle
How did your RCA experience form you as a designer?

For me the RCA was all about what it means to be a visual communicator.


Enjoyed this story? Discover more alumni stories here.

Find out more about MA Information Experience Design and how to apply.

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