The Rural We: Richard and Abby Tovell

T Square partners profiled in local online mag Rural Intelligence:

After a decade of living and working in London, Abby and Richard Tovell — along with their two children and their freelance graphic design business, T Square Design Studio — picked up stakes and relocated to Housatonic in 2010. T Square has since become the secret weapon of some of the area’s most inventive print, exhibit, and online campaigns for organizations like theBerkshire Museum,The Mount,Cohen + White Associates, Berkshire Mountain Spring Water andB Mango and Bird. Abby shares their story.

We were introduced in London by a mutual friend. I’m from New York City, and I used to vacation in the Berkshires with my parents. Richard grew up in the Cotswolds in England, but was a counselor at Camp Greylock in the summer of 1988. It was amazing to discover, the night we first met, that we both had this connection to the Berkshires.

We had built a life, family and careers in London, but living in a big city can be hectic and expensive. Every now and then we’d talk about the Berkshires and how it has this cultured city vibe in an idyllic setting. We craved the lifestyle change, but it seemed crazy to drop our clients when we were doing well. Then the recession hit. It actually turned out to be an opportunity, because with most of our clients cutting back, moving didn’t seem like such a risk anymore.

There are so many companies and cultural and nonprofit institutions in the Berkshires, and being able to visually interpret their story, to be that first impression — it’s very gratifying. We take a lot of pride in personalizing our designs based on the client’s goals and preferences. Having worked in the pre-digital age gives us a unique perspective. For example, design is now coming back to this very vintage look, with distressing, hand stamping, hand lettering. It’s a reaction to how digitized everything became, and that’s what makes an original design so important. It creates a marketing conundrum for us, though, because our looks are incredibly varied. But for clients that understand the value of this individuality, of design and marketing communications, we can help them get to that next level.

Housatonic has been the ideal location for us personally and professionally. It’s beautiful but not touristy. We love doing the bike trails in Lanesboro and Copake, and hiking in Beartown State Forest. We also enjoy taking the kids to Jacob’s Pillow, especially the Inside/Out series, and out-of-the-way places like the Bidwell House. And it’s been extraordinary to find all the smaller, independent arts organizations, like WAM Theatre. At the same time, New York City and Boston are so close.

One of the loveliest surprises of the Berkshires is the food scene. With the farm-to-table movement, we’re able to educate our kids about where their food comes from. And the local harvest festivals have become some of our favorite family activities.

I don’t know exactly what it is about the Berkshires, but it’s an unforgettable place. There’s a lovely local population, a group of city transplants and families with stories similar to ours, and dozens of people working in creative industries. It’s a constant source of inspiration.