The Society of British Theatre Designers

  • The Lilly of the Valley
  • Paint your Wagon
  • Evolving Summit
  • Clivia
  • The Glass Menagerie
COVID 19: Need Help? Contact for advice and guidance during this difficult time.

Blue Pages:

The Blue Pages is The Society’s twice yearly magazine, it helps us keeps in touch with members regularly and covers news, articles, guidance notes and advice on contracts and working practice, as well as details of events, exhibitions and recent publications.

Select articles are available online, members may also download selected digital back copies.

We are keen to reflect a diverse range of practice within the journal. If you are interested in writing an article for Blue Pages, please contact

You can find some guidelines here: SBTD Blue Pages Guidelines.


Exhibition design model by Curious Space Editorial by Greer Crawley;
Cover image: Exhibition design model by Curious Space. Opera: Passion, Power Politics

‘We use conversation with others to learn to converse with ourselves’. Sherry Turkle

Sherry Turkle is a psychologist and a professor at MIT whose primary academic interest is researching people and their relationships with technology. In her new book, Reclaiming Conversation, she argues that talking to each other can improve relationships, productivity, and creativity. ‘In conversation we tend to one another. (The word itself is kinetic; it’s derived from words that mean to move, together.) We can attend to tone and nuance. In conversation, we are called upon to see things from another’s point of view.’ However, she believes that although in this technological age, we are always communicating through Twitter, Facebook, in texts, emails etc we are merely connecting not conversing. For Turkle, true exchange requires time and the permission ‘to think and react and
glean insights.’

It is our aim to give our readers and contributors this opportunity and to celebrate and encourage a diversity of voices.

In this issue, Paul Burgess recalls his fascinating conversations with David Hockney about his designs for Richard Strauss’s Die Frau Ohne Schatten. While Peter Ruthven Hall in ‘Building Better Theatres’ wants to open up a conversation and share thinking about good design for the next generation of theatres.

Those who report on their experience at World Stage Design in Taipei consistently comment on the value of conversation. For Kate Lane and Zepur Agopyan WSD was an opportunity to personally engage, and begin conversations leading to national and international collaborations. While Kate Burnett reflects on the cross-cultural dialogues that took place on the WSD juries. The awards process depends on dialogue between all the participants. WSD, the Linbury prize and the JMK Young Director Award encourage exchange through conversation, collaboration and reflection.

It is equally important to the building of community. Grace Venning reporting on the Donmar on Design festival, curated by Tom Scutt in November, describes how it opened up conversations about process and practice and made her feel part of a supportive community. The desire to bring communities together in conversation and exchange is what inspires Grit Eckert and David Shearing to suggest the possibilities of the shared spaces of Harkers Paint Studio and The Weather Cafe.

In ‘Who Are The New Storytellers?’ Jim Whyte a London-based trends and foresight consultant and writer writes that brand storytelling is moving towards more intimate conversations by slowing the audience down and drawing them in to a greater level of engagement. It is the approach taken by Curious Space the designers for the Opera exhibition at the V&A where in order to make the visitor more receptive they needed to ‘slow people down, open their eyes, get the light down’. Speaking about their collaboration during the design process, the curator Kate Bailey and the designer Patrick Burnier emphasise the importance of sustaining a dialogue and the value of the cross platform skills Curious Space brought to the design of the exhibition.

The designers Emma & Giuseppe Belli also write in this issue about cross art form conversation and transferable skills. Like Curious Space, they believe that cross platform knowledge is undervalued. The Footprint Xchange event on the Value of Design set out to address this problem by demonstrating how designers and makers could position themselves within a wider interdisciplinary context. One way is shown throughThe Designers Formation that now represents designers with
multidisciplinary practices including work for opera, contemporary dance, festivals, installation, exhibition, music videos.

‘Design process’ is a term that is used often to refer to a prescribed set of procedures for problemsolving and approaching design problems. However, each project requires a unique approach and every designer has their individual process with its own order and intensity. This is revealed in the many conversations in this issue, from Martin Morley’s memories of his education with Richard Negri, to Sean Crowley’s reflections on Paul Brown to Peter Ruthven Hall’s tribute to Peter Hall.

– Greer Crawley

To read the full Blue Pages – Join Today