Thursday, September 29, 2011

Alex McCuaig of MET Studio, speaker at TEA's SATE 2012 Experience Design conference at Disneyland Paris


Alex McCuaig FCSD,
Chairman and Executive Creative Director
Alex founded MET Studio, one of the most creative and innovative experiential design companies in the world, in 1982, naming the studio after its first location on the Metropolitan Wharf, near the River Thames in Wapping.

Since that time, Alex has overseen MET Studio’s long and steady growth and has been at the forefront of building the company’s ever-growing global reputation for inspirational creativity. MET Studio is not only the fifth largest exhibition/leisure design agency in the UK but it is the most lauded in its sector, having won more creative and business awards than any of its competitors. These include a CSD Minerva Award for Best Environment, an IBM Best Educational Initiative Award, two Design Week Best Exhibition Awards and the year 2000 Best of Show Award at the Design Week Awards, where the ‘Wired Worlds’ digital media project won the company the most coveted design prize in Britain - the best design in any field by a British design company over a 12-month period. MET Studio has also won numerous awards for export achievement, including Business Link, Cilntec and International Trade Awards. In 2004 MET Studio was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

After leaving his native Glasgow to take a BA in 3-D Design at Kingston University, Alex went on to learn his craft in the studios of James Gardner, a tough but inspirational designer who provided a perfect template for the rigorous standards Alex would adopt for his own company. The many fascinating projects Alex worked on in this period include an exhibition on Nuclear Power in Baltimore, the Philips Science and Technology Centre in Eindhoven and the History of Independent Radio in London.

After forming his own company, it was alongside James Gardner that the MET Studio won its first major projects - in the Far East, where many of its major projects are located to this day. The relationship that Alex and the company built up with clients like the National Museum of Natural Science in Taiwan also continue to this day.

Alongside MET Studio’s major scientific, technological and natural history projects all over the world, from the Underground Adventure at The Chicago Field Museum to the current design of The Maritime Experience galleries at the Dutch Maritime Museum, Alex has also directed many major projects for corporate clients, including marketing suites for property giant Swire in Hong Kong, a major exhibition for Hongkong Telecom, restaurants for the Hard Rock Café chain, a one-off themed store for Virgin Records and the massive job of creating the masterplan in 1994 for the refurbishment of Cunard’s flagship liner, the QE2. Zoos and eco-parks are a growing party of the business, as are huge-scale masterplans, with MET Studio often commissioned on projects before any other consultants, to help create the brief for a scheme’s architecture and ensure clarity of purpose throughout.

More recently Alex has overseen the creative development of the multi-award-winning Hong Kong Wetland Park; Asia’s first interactive football environment (The Manchester United Experience) in Macau, winner of a 2009 Gold Award at the ICIAD ‘The Ring’ Awards; FusionWorld in Singapore, BugWorld in Liverpool, Dokaae in Saudi Arabia and a stunning graphics-led exhibition called ‘Conflicts of Interest’, for the UK’s National Army Museum. Current projects include a Drugs Information Centre called ‘The Bridge’ in Mexico, which follows on from the success of a similar project, also by MET Studio, at the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Alex remains a hands-on creative force in the company, responsible for the overall management and creative direction of all projects, as well as looking at the practical/ production aspects of projects and overseeing project teams. He travels widely, writes articles and gives speeches, as well as, more recently, being involved in official design industry ‘Creative Britain’ thinktank for the British Government, which meets regularly at the House of Commons.