Dr Carolina Escobar-Tello

  • Senior Lecturer
  • Postgraduate Year Tutor
  • Member of Senate Loughborough University

Carolina is a forward thinking researcher, designer, and facilitator working across industrial, product, service, and systems design. Sustainability, happiness & wellbeing, social innovation, creativity, systemic thinking, and a pro-active mind-set shape her role as a designer and agent of change. She has professional multidisciplinary design experience in the industrial and governmental arena (UK; USA; Europe; South America) including DEFRA and UNICEF among others.  In addition she has extensive experience in design teaching, facilitating workshops, and project management ranging from the academia to the industry. Currently a Lecturer in the Design School at Loughborough University (UK), her work has been published in journals and international peer reviewed conference proceedings.  She also co-leads the Design Research Societies Sustainability Special Interest Group (SustainabilitySIG).

Carolina has an MSc degree in Sustainable Product Design awarded at Distinction level (Bournemouth University, UK ) allied to a BA (Hons) Industrial Design (Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia). Her PhD ( 2007 – 2010, Loughborough University ) is the 1st UK PhD in Design for Happiness. It looked at understanding the way in which design can contribute in a holistic way to sustainability and in this way investigated, identified and proposed the design methods, and characteristics of sustainable products, services and systems capable of contributing to our happiness, hence shaping and promoting society towards sustainable lifestyles. She is particularly interested in uncovering grass-root opportunities that help people to innovate and shape more sustainable societies (social innovation methodologies and approaches). Currently supervising four PhDs in this area.

In 2013 Carolina won a HE Social Entrepreneurship Award for her design framework and toolkit ‘Design for Happiness’.  This award gave way to establishing ‘Riant by Design’, a company whose overarching aim is to support communities, businesses and organisations in their transition towards more sustainable and happier lifestyles.  This, in turn, seeks to generate a positive impact on social capital and innovation; and consequently economic prosperity.

Carolina is part of the Sustainable Design Research Group at Loughborough Design School.

Main Research Interests

Carolina’s area of specialism/research sits within holistic sustainable design, social innovation and systemic thinking.  Her research looks at facilitating the transition towards more sustainable design practices by understanding better the design characteristics of products, services and systems that contribute to people’s happiness and sustainable lifestyles. She is particularly interested in uncovering grass-root opportunities that help people to innovate and shape more sustainable societies.

  • Happiness and Well-being
  • Design for Sustainable Societies and Lifestyles
  • Systemic thinking for Sustainable Futures
  • Co-Design
  • Social Innovation
  • Emotionally Enhanced Design
  • Creative Design Methods
  • The Evolving Role of Designers

Ongoing Projects:

  • ESRC/Colciencias project ‘Paz Alto Cauca’. Co-Investigator.

This project explores how the Colombian state’s presence is being constructed in three ‘post-conflict’ zones, with the aim of strengthening the capacity of local communities to successfully plan and develop their land in accordance with the Peace Agreement. The project undertakes collaborative research, including researchers from Loughborough University, and Uni. Valle.


  • POR EL Páramo (Post-conflict Reconciliation of Environment and Livelihoods in Boyacá Páramo). Co-Investigator.

The project aims to investigate ecosystem service provision, environmental change, cultural links with the land, and trade-offs between competing land-uses of this fragile ecosystem. The project undertakes collaborative research, including researchers from King's College London, Bristol, Edinburgh, Loughborough, Uni. Valle, Uni. Sabana, and partners in Colombia


  • PARAMO. Co-Ivestigator.

The multidisciplinary PARAMO programme will address the major, unanswered question of how best to incorporate and optimise biodiversity, ecosystem services and cultural values within natural resource management. In doing so, we will transform the role of cultural heritage and human-environmental experiential knowledge within the design of conservation programmes. PARAMO research will thus enable our multidisciplinary team of experts to support Colombia in developing its economy while protecting biodiversity, ecosystem services and cultural values and beliefs. The project undertakes collaborative research, including researchers from University of Sheffield, Loughborough University, Lancaster University, University of Vermont, and partners in Colombia.


  • Mini Centre for Doctoral Training in Service Design 

The Mini CDT in Service Design is a vibrant group that brings together expertise from Loughborough School of the Arts and Loughborough Design School. Its aim is to train postgraduate researchers to achieve success in service design and innovation. Our overarching goals are research excellence, societal impact and enterprising viability. The current PhD research topics focus on Service Design: Innovations, Travel and Wellbeing, specifically:

  1. Digital innovation for travel
  2. Service innovation that connects tourism and sustainability
  3. Healthcare service innovation through visual thinking
  4. Social innovation for sustainability and happiness
  • International Hockey Federation (FIH)/LDS Project HG (2014)

Co-Investigator. As part of the university’s partnership with the Federation of International Hockey (FIH), Loughborough Design School is facilitating a Service Design process that leads to the development of a new and dynamic, entertainment-focussed complementary game designed to help hockey reach new markets and improve hockey for both players and fans.

  • "LEEDR Project - Low Effort Energy Demand Reduction” (2011 – 2014)

LEEDR Project (Low Effort Energy Demand Reduction) running at Loughborough University. This interdisciplinary project will integrate energy monitoring with design and social anthropological understanding of household energy use. The project will enable the design and evaluation of the next generation intervention strategies that will help the UK towards achieving the 2050 CO2 reduction targets.

The project brings together:

  • Social science
  • Civil and building engineering
  • Computer science
  • Systems engineering
  • User interface and design technology


  • Unltd Fellow - Social Enterprise Fund Winner

HEFCE, Unltd and Loughborough University (2013)

  • ‘On the Town Project’: A Local Ambassadors’ Programme

‘On the Town’ aims to bring together local and H.E. students communities by doing things differently. By means of a grass-roots approach, it focuses on community flourishing and improving peoples’ lives through community ‘building’ activities led by young local groups for and with young local groups.  It will create a Local Ambassador Programme (LAP), fostering dialogue and breaking down silos between local communities and the transient student populations studying there, culminating in a Freshers’ Week presence hosted by the Local Ambassadors. The project brings together 3 UK localities in the midlands - Coventry, Loughborough and Stoke-on-Trent - where the relationships between communities and universities continue to change as student numbers grow and the student profile diversifies.  With widening participation and community engagement high on the universities’ agendas, this project seeks to find innovative ways for existing relationships to develop and new relationships to be nurtured. Key to the success of this project will be to empower local communities with soft skills to engage in community and relationship building that places communities’ interests at the heart of the interaction.


Design for Happiness, Sustainable Product Service Systems, Social Innovation, Sustainable Societies and Lifestyles, Systemic Thinking, Industrial Design, Creative Design Methods.

  • DSB013 - Sustainable Design
  • DSB001 - Year 2 Design Practice
  • DSP860 - Sustainable Design Masters
  • DSP802 - Sustainable Behaviour Masters
  • DSP851 - Design Research Methods Masters
  • DSP834 - Service Design for Social Innovation
  • DSC009 - Industrial Design Studies 3