Stored somewhere in the garage of the Kensington mews HQ owned by the Pink Floyd organisation, just next to a beautiful Aston Martin DB5, is an unassuming cardboard box that is home to an acrylic prism tower, filled with coloured oil. Were one to remove the sculptural piece from its box and pass a laser through one of its pyramidal facets, refracted light would cast myriad coloured beams on the garage wall, revealing the cover art for one of the most iconic and instantly recognisable record sleeves in rock history.

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Furniture and lighting designer Gala Wright, with artwork for Pink Floyd’s 1970 album Atom Heart Mother

Gala Wright, daughter of Floyd founder member, Richard “Rick” Wright, has no idea where the prism came from. All she knows is that it has been a mystically ornamental constant in her life ever since she was a little girl. “Dad just brought it home one day and kept it around the house, probably thinking it would be useful. Maybe it was used for something at UFO,” she says — UFO being the short-lived Tottenham Court Road club where Pink Floyd played during the 1960s. Gala casually disregards the notion that, to even the most casual observer, the piece looks like the direct reference material for the famous The Dark Side of the Moon album cover designed by prog rock’s maverick art directors Aubrey “Po” Powell and Storm Thorgerson of the London-based Hipgnosis outfit.

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Various awards presented to her father, Rick Wright

But Gala insists that the prism in the garage and the prism on the album cover have no direct connection, that they are linked only by the enigmatic synchronicity of an extraordinary band and its groundbreaking creative team working in perfect harmony.

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An inflatable pig floats over the V&A to herald The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains, which opens in May

“Before the release of The Dark Side of the Moon, Dad had a meeting with Storm and Po at Hipgnosis to discuss the cover,” says Gala. “Dad said to them, ‘We want something simple and graphic. Something smarter, neater — more classy… Not one of your silly pictures.’” (Presumably a gently mocking reference to Hipgnosis’ artfully unsettling imagery used on previous Floyd album covers, such as Wish You Were Here and Ummagumma.) The prism design on the cover of the 45 million-selling album is officially described as having been inspired by a photograph that Thorgerson had seen during a brainstorming session with Powell. “When they delivered their design I think Dad was amazed at how similar it was,” says Gala. “It was an amazing coincidence.”

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The artwork for the Waterbury 73 CD recorded live at the Palace Theatre

The mystery of the prism and many more stories of Pink Floyd’s radical design and grand scale art direction will be told in May when London’s Victoria and Albert Museum stages its biggest rock-themed event since the David Bowie is… show in 2013. The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains will contain 350 items of band ephemera, instruments (the Azimuth coordinator used onstage at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, 1967, for instance) posters, handwritten lyrics, stage props (a flower petal mirror ball for 1973 is a highlight) concert flyers, artwork and, of course, the massive inflatables — flying pigs, evil school teachers rendered as claw hammers — which became synonymous with their live shows. A specially created laser spectacle in another gallery promises to send legions of visiting Floyd geeks into acid flashback mode.

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Connecticut in 1973 and framed photographs of band members

Gala, a talented furniture and product designer, along with Floyd drummer (and fellow Aston Martin enthusiast) Nick Mason and surviving Hipgnosis partner Po Powell (Storm died in 2013) have been helping co-curate the exhibition with the V&A team. But it hasn’t been easy. “There are pieces stored in warehouses all over the world,” she says. “And some of them are really huge. But it’s been worth it. I think the moment when you walk into the confined space of the museum and see the massive inflatable pig from the Animals tour for the first time… that will have quite an effect on people.”

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Gala Wright outside the Kensington HQ with her beautiful DB5

Growing up, Gala didn’t have much contact with Pink Floyd’s dirigibles and pyrotechnics. There were keyboards and musical equipment around the house and Gala can recall going to sleep watching the woozy colours and psychedelic patterns projected from her parents’ oil lanterns on the wall, “but most of the time Dad tended to keep things separate”. She attended the progressive St Christopher’s school in Hertfordshire, whose alumni include AA Gill and Prince Rupert Loewenstein — erstwhile financial manager of The Rolling Stones.

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Rick Wright, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and David Gilmour

It was only in 1979, when Pink Floyd scored its first number one with Another Brick in the Wall, that Gala began to realise that her dad might be something of a big deal. “He’d send us all tour T-shirts at school, but no one was particularly interested. They were all into 2-Tone and ska.” Leaving school, she read physics and philosophy at St Anne’s College, Oxford and assisted award-winning film director Iain Softley. She married Pink Floyd bassist Guy Pratt in 1996 (they have since divorced) before returning to education to gain a distinction in furniture design and realisation from London’s Metropolitan University. One of Gala’s most celebrated designs — her Mekon Cube floor light, a soft white globe light inside a two way mirror box — could have come straight off the Hipgnosis drawing board. She doesn’t see the connection. “Maybe there’s a tiny bit of a Floyd influence in there somewhere,” she laughs. “After all, Dad was often credited as a driving force behind the band’s art direction so maybe something rubbed off.”

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Artwork for the 1969 album Ummagumma designed with a Droste effect by collaborators Hipgnosis

“It was very arty and relaxed. I was there with people like Joe Corre (son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren), John Cleese’s kids and my friend Sara Lord whose father was in Deep Purple.” The atmosphere was free-spirited and non-competitive. “You were allowed to go lessons in your pyjamas, if you wanted to.”

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The final Pink Floyd studio album, The Endless River, released in 2014

It was only in 1979, when Pink Floyd scored its first number one with Another Brick in the Wall, that Gala began to realise that her dad might be something of a big deal. “He’d send us all tour T-shirts at school, but no one was particularly interested. They were all into 2-Tone and ska.” Leaving school, she read physics and philosophy at St Anne’s College, Oxford and assisted award-winning film director Iain Softley. She married Pink Floyd bassist Guy Pratt in 1996 (they have since divorced) before returning to education to gain a distinction in furniture design and realisation from London’s Metropolitan University. One of Gala’s most celebrated designs — her Mekon Cube floor light, a soft white globe light inside a two way mirror box — could have come straight off the Hipgnosis drawing board. She doesn’t see the connection. “Maybe there’s a tiny bit of a Floyd influence in there somewhere,” she laughs. “After all, Dad was often credited as a driving force behind the band’s art direction so maybe something rubbed off.”

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Gala in the driving seat

Rick Wright’s aforementioned Aston Martin DB5 won’t be making an appearance at the Knightsbridge museum in May. Gala inherited it after her father’s untimely death in 2009, but prefers keeping it for weekend cruises in the West Sussex countryside around her Brighton home. “Dad bought it, I think, in the late 1980s, maybe early 1990s,” she recalls. It joined an impressive Wright garage that included, variously, an AC Cobra, a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, a Lotus Espirit “and his favourite — which came much, much later — an Aston Martin DB9. I still remember being so excited when the DB5 turned up and then very frustrated that he never drove it. I would pester him to take it out. I think that’s probably why Dad wanted to leave it to me.”

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The gorgeous, Caribbean Blue Pearl classic, Gala is pleased to report, still performs beautifully on the open road. “Before I got the Aston, the best car I’d ever had was a VW camper van,” she says. “I got quite used to the van breaking down and presumed that all old cars were probably prone to the same sort of thing, but the Aston has never let me down. It’s a pleasure to drive. I felt a bit self conscious in it at first but I soon realised that it is a car that inspires a lovely, warm reaction from people.” Wish you were her?

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