The prize will be awarded annually for excellence and innovation in the field of exhibition/display design, shown by an undergraduate or postgraduate student during the normal course of their studies.
The winner will be presented with a certificate and £250 prize at a ceremony at the Museum of Bath at Work, at which time they will be asked to present their winning design to the audience. They will also be offered the possibility of displaying work at the Museum and/or working on a small project in collaboration with the Museum.
The Museum of Bath at Work, based around the Bowler collection (the complete, accumulated contents of a Victorian business) opened at its current site in Morford Street in 1978. Russell Frears was instrumental in rescuing the collection from disposal/dispersal in 1969 and in initiating and fulfilling the idea of a museum and designing its interior layout and displays. The Hudson Gallery and the Mezzanine at the Museum are particular examples of Russell’s approach to design. His love of detail and the ability to create unique spaces is clearly evident.
Russell trained in Birmingham in the 1950s. He then travelled to the United States where he worked at two of the most influential design practices of the 20th century, Eliot Noyes in Connecticut and The Eames Office in Venice California. The Eames approach to multidisciplinary design was particularly well suited to Russell’s way of working.
Russell returned to England in 1967 and remained close friends with Ray and Charles Eames. Through Russell’s connections with the Eames he carried on working for Herman Miller and in fact, it was this connection that led to the Herman Miller furniture works being set up in Bath.
In 1988 Russell formed the design company CONNEXIONS (Bath) Limited with Ron Deamer. Their work consisted almost exclusively of the design of exhibitions and museum displays in a wide variety of settings. Russell continued working until his death in 2010.
Russell’s intuitive approach to design focused on the search for simple and elegant solutions to practical problems and the use of innovative materials often gleaned from or inspired by industrial sources. He sought to produce display systems which made full use of the space and light in which they were exhibited and which were deeply sensitive to their surroundings and the material displayed.