The Tasmanian women making waves in the built environment: Lucy Given, LUC Design
Tucked away inside one of Hobart’s oldest buildings on bustling Macquarie Street, sits award-winning home retailer, LUC Design. A Tasmanian institution amongst the design savvy, owner Lucy Given’s 30 years in the design industry has informed the deliberate curation of wares from around the globe that LUC Design has to offer. Having lived in cities across the world herself, Lucy’s style is vibrant and thoughtful, only hand selecting pieces for her store that will resonate with their potential owner. With an essentialist approach, Lucy’s ethos is to buy once and buy well, for one’s own wellbeing and that of the planet.
1. What has been one of your favourite projects to be a part of?
I enjoy every one of the projects I have been involved in. I love the challenge of starting a fresh project- the possibilities, the imagination, the creativity, even the logistics – all of it gives me great energy. However, the one I am probably most proud is LUCASA, our linen collection. We took an idea and ran with it, creating something that had an intrinsic Tasmanian style and aesthetic and turned it in to a commercial venture. We are now stocked in 5 stores nationally and it is one of our best-selling lines within LUC Design.
2. What can people expect from LUC Design?
Quality product, a calm and sophisticated aesthetic & vibe, service that goes above and beyond, attention to detail and consistency and reliability of stock.
3. What is one of your proudest achievements in your career?
Creating a definite brand. Building businesses and retail shops, that’s not rocket science, but the idea that our stores have a definite look and an aesthetic, that is not only recognisable (and expected) but also aligned with quality and style, is very satisfying. I am also extremely proud of the work culture that has been created. I am very inclusive in the way I want the stores to operate and all the staff have a sense of ownership of the brand.
4. Is there a message or story you would like to have conveyed from your shop/work?
I have built the identity of the brand on the premise of “buy once, buy well”. I want people to embrace quality over quantity. It is not necessarily true that a product has to cost more to be better, it is a matter of buying something you know you will want in your life for a long time – not just a season. I encourage people to buy things that resonate with them and recognise that the item will have importance in their homes.
5. Is there another female in the design industry that has inspired you?
I am so inspired by female architects and designers. I find the female aesthetic on projects to be far more wholistic and intuitive. I know this may be a generalisation, but spaces designed by women seem, to me, to have more depth, more texture, more warmth.
The women who have particularly influenced my design world are Ilse Crawford, Patricia Urquiola, Zaha Hadid, Andrée Putman, Kelly Hoppen and Kelly Wearstler.
In Australia, I closely follow Hare & Klein, Doherty Design Studio, Arent & Pyke, Fiona Lynch, Mim Design and Claire Delmar (studio CD) and architect Polly Harbison – a fairly rich list of some of the best designers in the country.
6. What makes Tasmania the right place for you to pursue your work in retail/design?
Apart from the fact that it is the home of my family, the size of the state, and its relative isolation, has enabled me to curate brands not seen before in one space. It was a risk to bring large iconic brands together in one store and it has paid off mainly due to the fact Tasmanian consumers are educated and discerning in their design choices. If I were in a bigger city, I don’t think I could have brought all these brands together unless I was a big department store. I also think we have been able to nurture a strong ‘fan-base’ of regular customers who feel welcomed and at home in store. There is definitely a chance to get to know your customer more intimately in a smaller environment.
7. What does the future of the design industry look like in Tasmania?
I think after the tumultuous year of 2020, people are now eager to seek out smaller, more isolated parts of the world. Tasmania is going to come in to its own with regards to the idyllic nature of what people are seeking. There are many people moving to the State – which will bring an increase in architectural projects, housing and commercial ventures. I’d like to think that those projects will use local designers, local makers and local timber products.
I really hope that we can encourage and foster better marketing opportunities and education for designers. There is still a tendency to design, and be more open to, large ‘one-off’ commissions or more ‘art pieces’, when in reality, there is a genuine need to produce everyday items and produce them well. I have many customers who are willing to pay more for something designed and built locally.
As an end supplier, in 2021 I am finding it increasingly difficult to import (ship items) into the country (with shipping channels being overloaded and prices at a premium), and my customers are now, more than ever, wanting to know the provenance of products. It is such a key time to make in-roads and change our way of producing products to a larger scale of manufacturing.
It could be such an exciting growth time for the designers here in Tasmania to link into this and be encouraged to design product that people want to buy that can be produced in Tasmania or Australia as the world market realigns and is encouraged to buy local product. I have faith that our Government, and the institutions that work to elevate the design community within the State, will rise to this task.
8. This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge- Choosing to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality and celebrating women’s achievement to help create a more inclusive world. In your industry- what would you choose to challenge?
If I am honest the gender bias and inequality I see in my world is in favour of women. I run a small business – there are about 2 million small businesses in Australia and more than a third of them are owned by women. In two decades, there has been almost a 50% increase of female ownership. There will always be challenges for women having to ‘leave the workforce’ to be the primary caregiver for children but I think there is a new generation of women where this is a choice they are content to make. The ability to work from home is now a norm, flexibility in the workforce is now a norm and women in design are particularly flexible to the concept.
I accept that women are underrepresented in all design disciplines, including architecture, civil engineering, town planning, software design, fashion and product design. But I reflect on how incredibly privileged and fortunate we are to live in a country where being a woman allows us all the same opportunities as men.
9. What do you think can be done to help elevate female voices in design?
I think there is a lack of designer role models that young women and minorities can identify with and learn from. This absence can make it difficult to find one’s direction in the move from University to real-world work.
“You cannot be, what you cannot see”. Role models are about seeing possibility for yourself and I think it would be great to see mentorships available to women in design. When anyone feels uncertain about their own validity in a certain space, they’re less likely to speak up, creating a cycle in which one’s own lack of confidence leads to taking fewer risks and, therefore, being less trusted as a leader. If you have a more diverse contingent of people in leadership roles, you’ll have a more diverse contingent across the board within your community, bringing their perspectives to the table
10. What advice would you give young girls/women interested in pursuing a career in design?
Find a woman who has had success in their field and ask them to be a mentor. Ask their advice, follow their lead. Read and research other women in design, network with other women. For aspiring architects, join the Findlay Project, a series of events and activities that highlight the role of women architects. (It is named for Margaret Findlay, who was born in Scottsdale in 1916 and became Tasmania’s first female registered-architect.)
11. What three words define your work?
Dedicated. Obsessed. Relevant. (and four…resilient)
12. How can our readers support you/your business?
Shop local! I may sell international brands but instead of buying products from online retailers interstate or overseas, investigate if the products can be sourced from a local supplier. In our store we will always endeavor to source product for a customer, even if we don’t sell the brand – it is a service we are happy to offer. We all want to live in an interesting, vibrant buzzing city. A city where we love to visit unique, exciting stores. A city where you proudly bring friends and visitors to enjoy the diversity. If you choose to buy first from a local retailer you will be contributing to the development of such a city. Dollars spent with community-based merchants create a multiplier in the local economy, meaning that from each dollar spent at a local independent merchant, up to 3.5 times as much wealth is generated in the local economy compared to a dollar spent with online stores, and we do that little happy dance with every sale too.