Concordia University

Award-winning media design consultant Lucie Lacava continues to move in new directions

The in-demand Concordia grad is behind Le Devoir’s recent redesign
September 10, 2018
By Ursula Leonowicz

Multiple-award-winning designer Lucie Lacava, BFA (graphic design) 82, is a woman in perpetual creative motion.

Lacava is founder of Montreal-based media design consulting firm Lacava Design. She is also part-time art director for French-language, Montreal-based newspaper Le Devoir. This summer Lacava led Le Devoir‘s print redesign and helped transform its culture section into a magazine, called Le D.

She also recently refashioned The Straits Times, Singapore’s English-language daily newspaper, and all of its online platforms.

Prototype of Lucie Lacava’s Le Devoir new design A prototype of Lucie Lacava’s Le Devoir new design, unveiled in June 2018.

Lacava has had a long relationship with Le Devoir. She was responsible for the newspaper’s highly successful revamping in 1992. “The readership increased tremendously and the redesign won 36 awards — it felt like the Olympics,” she recalls.

“That’s what launched my career. After that, I started getting calls from newspapers all over the world and, more recently, websites and the digital side of the industry.”

Lacava also helped launch Le Devoir’s app in 2014.

Busy career

After graduating from Concordia in 1982, Lacava began her career as an art editor for the Montreal Gazette before moving to Le Devoir for a year, then starting her own firm in 1992.

Over the past 25 years, her designs have earned more than 100 awards. In 2010 the Society for News Design honoured Lacava with a Lifetime Achievement Award. She has worked on dozens of newspapers, including Le Soleil, National Post and Chicago Tribune, and countless other publications across Latin America, Europe, the United Arab Emirates and South East Asia.

“There have been years where I was Super Elite with Air Canada — flying to five different places a month,” she says.

Lacava, who speaks English, French, Italian and Spanish, almost missed her calling due to her decision to pursue translation at Université de Montréal after graduating from Marianopolis College in Montreal.

“I thought that my career would be in translation, working for the UN,” she says. “I realized that it wasn’t for me. I was trying really hard but my marks were low, and so I took a little time to think about it and decided to follow my dream.”

Lucie Lacava, BFA 82 Lucie Lacava is founder of media design consulting firm Lacava Design and is the part-time art director for Le Devoir newspaper.

Lacava’s dream, as it turns out, was a combination of what she loved most: visual art and typography. “I don’t know why, but I have this thing for typography and it’s where I go first when I’m looking for inspiration,” she says.

Concordia connections

Lacava, whose two sons are currently enrolled at Concordia and whose husband, Nick Vannelli, BComm 82, GrDip 87, also graduated from her alma mater, attributes part of her design style to what she learned at the university.

“Susan Hudson, who was one of my teachers, would say, ‘Don’t use lines unless they serve a purpose, don’t over decorate,’” Lacava recalls. “My work has always been very minimal and I always ask myself, ‘Is this a decorative element or is it useful in some way; does it serve a purpose?’”

Lacava taught a typography in media course at Université du Québec à Montreal (UQAM) from 2013 to 2016, which she’ll be teaching again this fall. She also manages an Instagram account, @lulucrezia, where she posts architecturally inspired photographs in varying shades of blue.

The account has made Lacava “instafamous,” with more than 30,000 followers.

Photography is one of the many artistic pursuits she enjoys dedicating time to. “I was always very passionate about photography, and my teacher when I was at Concordia, Tom Gibson, thought that I should continue in the field. He was very helpful and inspirational,” Lacava says. “I ended up pursuing graphic design but photography was always in the back of my mind.”

In summer 2018, Lacava exhibited her photographs for the first time, at a group show at the Gallery at Victoria Hall in Westmount, Que.

Is photography a new route for Lacava? “With everything that’s happened in my life there’s always been a purpose,” she says. “So maybe something else is in the works for me.”

Lucie Lacava, BFA 82 Lucie Lacava, centre, is pictured with her sequential graphics course classmates at Concordia in 1981.

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