Studio Lutalica helps LGBTQ+ and feminist organisations to communicate their purpose
In the hopes of building a more inclusive society, the studio prioritises accessible and meaningful design.
- Daniel Milroy Maher
- 15 July 2021
‘Lutalica’, as defined by John Koenig in his famous Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, refers to “the part of your identity that doesn’t fit into categories”. For Edinburgh-based Studio Lutalica, this definition also gets to the heart of its history. Founded by design manager Cecilia Righini, who identifies as as non-binary queer, the studio was the result of a search for answers regarding their body, gender, and sexuality. This journey took them from an MA in Gender Studies at Goldsmiths to doing voluntary work for LGBTQ+ not-for-profit organisations to working on other fundamentally feminist projects. Eventually they realised the need to marry their passion for design with their activism for the community and thus Studio Lutalica was born.
“At Lutalica, we believe it’s necessary to use design thinking tools to create a more diverse and inclusive society,” says Cecilia. “Design in a more inclusive way considering the most marginalised people is crucial for the development of a more just world.” The studio applies its vision to a variety of projects, helping organisations within the LGBTQ+ sphere to develop their online and offline presence and give them the tools to effectively communicate their purpose. Accessible design lies at the core of the studio’s approach and it is reflected in much of the work that it does.
Lutalica’s rebrand for Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons’ Trust, an organisation that aims to support, educate, and inspire younger generations within the queer community, sought to transform its identity from one mainly defined by an outdated logo to one that accurately conveyed the amazing work that it does. The old logo, dominated by a rainbow that Cecilia felt overshadowed other important elements of the organisation, was replaced with three simple shapes that symbolise its foundational aspects. “After many workshops and chats with the young members, the winning concept used three shapes, one for each of the pillars of Mosaic – support, educate, inspire – and different colours to show the diversity within the organisation,” explains Cecilia.
Elsewhere, the studio has collaborated with artists within the feminist movement. Its branding for Falling in Every Direction, the creative practice of circus artist Francesca Hyde, looked to her background in topics such as Feminist New Materialism as inspiraiton for its design. She needed a website that would illustrate both her activities as a circus artist, but also as an academic. “The reflective part of her process was depicted in the hand-drawn elements around the site to emulate the experience of reading through a personal journal,” says Cecilia. There are accents included throughout the site, from the animation on the logo, to underline hover states, icons, and scribbles within the text. We wanted to keep these subtle, with a few surprising interactions to reward users’ curiosity with fun little discoveries and insights into Francesca’s personality.”
Alongside its web-based work, Lutalica also works on print projects. Vagina-nomics, a zine that Cecilia set up with Gabriela Dittrichova during her third year of studying Design Management and Cultures at University of the Arts London, is a collaborative endeavour between the co-founders and a passionate group of artists, illustrators, and writers. Through growing its network, it eventually became a biannual magazine that “de-stigmatises pleasure through art and design”. Though the magazine proved to be financially unsustainable due to its self-funded and not-for-profit nature, Lutalica is keen for it to exist in another form and is currently in conversation with a Slovak publisher to “print a bilingual book with edited and expanded themes and illustrations from the magazine issues in 2022”.
More recently the studio has been giving back to the community through establishing The Boost Award in collaboration with web development agency Lattimore and Friends. This is a brand new competition for impactful not-for-profit or social enterprise projects. Winners of the award will receive free design (or redesign) and development services for their website. The competition is aimed at LGBTQ+ organisations as a way of helping them to refresh their appearance, boost their profile and, ultimately, get their important messages out there. Like much of Lutalica’s crucial design work, The Boost Award was built “to support an underserved community”.
Studio Lutalica: Falling in Every Direction (Copyright © Studio Lutalica, 2020)
About the Author
Daniel joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in February 2019 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. He graduated from Kingston University with a degree in Journalism in 2015. He is also co-founder and editor of SWIM, an annual art and photography publication.