MAS Context Dialogues | James Goggin



This post is part of MAS Context Dialogues, a series of conversations with Chicago-based designers hosted by Stephen Killion.



To speak to James Goggin of his impressive portfolio of work is to speak of his influences, interests and, most importantly, his perspective on the role of graphic design in society. As a designer and co-owner of Practise, with wife and partner Shan James, he has worked with a number of notable clients including Phaidon, Studio Gang Architects, Tate Modern, Transport for London, University of Chicago, and Victoria & Albert Museum.

His career has taken him from Australia, where he grew up, to London, where he graduated from the Royal College of Art and started his studio in 1999. From London his family moved to Arnhem, the Netherlands, where he continued to work while teaching at the Werkplaats Typografie at the same time as being a visiting lecturer in history and theory at the ECAL (University of Art and Design Lausanne) in Switzerland. In 2010 he moved to Chicago to take on the role of Director of Design, Publishing, and New Media at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA). Since 2013 he has returned to running Practise with Shan James, working with clients around the United States and in Europe, combined with teaching at Rhode Island School of Design.

Although his career might seem nomadic in nature, I believe James would argue that each move was very calculated and intentional. He would also be the first to say that his boundaryless career path has had a strong influence on the work he creates. His willingness to travel has made him a keen observer, and equipped him with the ability to be both resident and visitor. This duality comes through in his projects where he tends to both work within the confines of a place’s culture but also add something new to the story.



Book design, Ettore Sottsass and the Poetry of Things, Deyan Sudjic, Phaidon Press, 2015 © Practise



Website design, Studio Gang Architects, 2015 (with Studio Scasascia) © Practise



Exhibition design and signage system, Tutti a Tavola, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Villa Reale di Milano, Milan, Italy, 2010 (with David Kohn Architects) © Practise



Book design, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, Skira Rizzoli, 2016 © Practise



Poster campaign, City in a Garden, City of Chicago, 2014 © Practise



Book design, Terra Foundation Essays: Picturing, Terra Foundation for American Art, 2016 © Practise



Collage, A Loop in the Lake (Apologies to John, John, Stanley, and Mies), for the exhibition This is Chicago, AIGA Chicago, 2014 © Practise



Identity system, printed matter, website, David Kohn Architects, 2008, 2015 © Practise



Poster, Radical Speculation, for the film series Image, Building, Object: Exploring Architecture & Design on Film, Black Cinema House, 2013 © Practise



Pastoral Warning Sign, for the exhibition 50 Years of British Road Signs, Design Museum, London, 2015 © Practise



Lecture Series Poster, IIT Architecture Spring 2014, Illinois Institute of Architecture, College of Architecture, 2014 © Practise



Record Sleeve, The Republic, Sam Prekop, Thrill Jockey Records, 2015 (featuring artwork by David Hartt) © Practise


Intro Song
“Strella, Sing a Singsong to the Moon” by Studio Noir is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.


James Goggin is a Chicago-based British and/or Australian art director and graphic designer from London via Sydney, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Auckland, and Arnhem. Together with partner Shan James, he runs a design practice named Practise working with clients across Europe, Asia, Australasia, and North America. James has taught at design schools in Europe, Australasia, and the United States, including Werkplaats Typografie, Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), and at Rhode Island School of Design, where he is currently a visiting thesis critic. He frequently gives lectures and runs workshops around the world, and occasionally writes about art and design practice. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Design Archive, and he has been a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale since 2010.

Formally trained as an architect, Stephen Killion uses his parallel understanding in both the architectural and graphic design discipline to advance an ongoing curiosity in how users inhabit, interact and understand the built environment through design. In addition to his award winning multidisciplinary design background, he has showcased and highlighted notable projects by acting as a contributing writer/editor for Mark Magazine, Architizer and Design Bureau.

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