Posted 30 August 2018
Interview by Indi Davies

Joana Filipe on how she got into creative production for ELCAF and exhibition design

On the podcast this week, we meet Joana Filipe, an exhibition and interior designer, who also works as a creative producer for ELCAF, London’s biggest annual festival for comics and illustration. Not simply a designer for traditional art spaces, Joana’s clients have included Thames and Hudson, Greenpeace and Converse – as well as the London-based Now Gallery, Fashion Space Gallery and selected universities. We hear how she went from studying sculpture in her hometown to moving to London and assisting at the V&A, before establishing her own practice.

Joana Filipe

Job Title

Exhibition and Interior Designer (2013–present)
Creative Producer, ELCAF (2013–present)



Selected Clients

72 and Sunny, Greenpeace, Urban Nerds, Nobrow Ltd, Thames & Hudson, NOW Gallery, PGUK, British Council, London College of Fashion, Fashion Business School

Previous Employment

Junior Design and Project Manager, Underwood & Co (2014)
Friday Late Assistant, Victoria Albert Museum (2013–2014)
Exhibitions Assistant, Victoria Albert Museum (2010–2012)
Director Silicone Brothers Fabrication Studio (2004–2007)


MA Fine Art, Central Saint Martins (2007–2008)
BA Fine Art Sculpture, Academia Nacional de Belas-Artes (2000–2006)


Social media

Joana begins by describing the role and responsibilities of an exhibition designer, before telling us what her work looks like day to day, running her own business from a shared studio in east London. She also describes her work with ELCAF – a three-day annual event to celebrate with comic artists and illustrators, which she has helped organise, produce and develop since 2013. Originally founded by independent publisher Nobrow in 2012, it now hosts over 170 participating artists each year. With exhibitor stands, talks, screenings and workshops to consider, Joana will manage overall spatial design to optimise visitor experience.

“I was producing and working on exhibitions [at the V&A], and I realised that this was what I wanted to do: I wanted to design these experiences.”

Having grown up in Lisbon and studied sculpture there, Joana describes her route into exhibition design – from a hands-on education in physical materials, to co-founding a company specialised in art fabrication. After three years of running the business with her brother, she decided to make a change, moving to London to study at Central Saint Martins, and then taking up work at the V&A.

When she was starting out, Joana initially freelanced from home, but she describes why she felt it was such an important step to hire a studio and her thoughts on valuing your time as an independent creative. Plus, she imparts her advice to anyone looking for experience in the realm of exhibition design, and those in the process of establishing and growing their own professional network.

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Joana’s work for Now Gallery

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Joana’s work for Now Gallery

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Joana’s work for UCL

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Joana’s work for London College of Fashion

Interview by Indi Davies
Mention Joana Filipe
Mention V&A