Alex Gillespie and her husband Caolan Mitchell spend their days figuring out how to transform stories into three-dimensional designs.
Dr Gillespie and Mr Mitchell design spaces in galleries, libraries, archives and museums across Australia and internationally, from their home in Canberra.
"It's [our] job to work with the curators to work out how that story will be told in three dimensions, and with what objects and how visitors will experience and move through the space," Dr Gillespie said.
"So it's really just sort of working out ... what's the best way to tell particular stories within a particular space."
The couple, under the name Thylacine, are behind the redevelopment of the permanent galleries at the National Archives, as well as a slew of other projects ranging from spaces in the Wellington Caves to Auckland Museum.
The scope of their projects, as well as the audiences that visit them, means a great deal of consideration goes into what stories are, and how to tell them.
"It's like a very big jigsaw puzzle that you need to put together in an exciting, immersive way," Dr Gillespie said.
"You need to think about who is going to be experiencing the exhibition. So the ... different visitor profiles, from older people down to the very young, to toddlers and people with different modes of abilities as well."
COVID lockdowns and restrictions added a few more pieces to that jigsaw puzzle, as visits to scope out spaces had to move online.
One of the most rewarding parts of the job is seeing the stories come together for audiences, Dr Gillespie said, but the pandemic had blocked this kind of interaction.
Asked about her favourite project, Dr Gillespie pointed to a job in Sydney's international airport, where the company designed a Solari board-inspired LED screen.
The boards, made up of flaps with letters and characters, were once standard fixtures in airports, but have since been replaced with digital boards.
"It needed to sort of communicate a particular message to someone who is leaving [for] an international destination, and convey that sense of excitement, but also reference airport communications technologies of the past," Dr Gillespie said.
"I got to see it in test mode, and it was just really amazing seeing people responding to it, and walking through the international departures area. And then COVID happened, and it hasn't been rolled out.
"For me, that was just a really an interesting little project that we've done recently that I'm looking forward to actually seeing [once COVID has] lifted."
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