I completed an AHRC-funded PhD in Design at the University of Brighton in 2012. I gained an MA in Graphic Design from the University of Arts London. I have BA Specialised Honours with distinction in Fine Arts at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
I founded eco-social design studio EcoLabs in London in 2006. It quickly became evident that we need better communication design theory and practice to facilitate more effective design response to environmental problems. My PhD proposal responded to this problem. My PhD was titled The Visual Communication of Ecological Literacy: Designing, Learning and Emergent Ecological Perception and was conducted under the supervision of Professor of Sustainable Design Jonathan Chapman and Professor of Media Studies Julie Doyle.
In 2013-2014, I worked as a CIRES Visiting Fellowship at Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR) in the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder. I conducted a research project called ‘Mapping Climate Communication’.
I wrote my book Design, Ecology, Politics: Toward the Ecocene (2018) while working as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM) at the University of Westminster.
I led a research project on the visual communication of complexity at the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) as a Research Fellow at the University of Surrey in 2017.
My research takes an expansive and transdisciplinary approach to design theory and responsible design practice. I use communication and systemic design practices to facilitate work on complex eco-social challenges across domains and scales. I am also committed to academic work supporting Sustainable and Responsible Design education.
To these ends I am co-chair of the Responsible Design Research Group at Loughborough School of Design and the Creative Arts with Matt Sinclair. I am also co-convenor of the Design Research Society’s (DRS) Sustainability Special Interest Group (SusSiG). I am also a founding member of the Systemic Design Association (SDA).
My book, Design, Ecology, Politics: Toward the Ecocene, describes the need for ecologically and critically engaged design for sustainable transitions. By theorising design, ecological and socio-political theory concurrently, I describe how social relations are constructed, reproduced and obfuscated by design in ways which often cause environmental and social harms. The transformative potential of design is dependent on deep-reaching analysis of the problems design attempts to address and the development of stronger systemic design practices.
This book brings intersectional feminist analysis and environmental justice into design theory. It takes an expansive approach to design with socially responsive design strategies on a scale that can meet the global and local challenges of the Anthropocene. The Ecocene concept links issues of social concerns to environmental problems while also describing design (and other generative disciplines) as essential players in cultural, social, political and technological shifts to sustainable and socially just futures.
The focus of work is communication design but much of the theory is relevant to other design disciplines and for sustainability practitioners – who have long relied on the use of visualisation techniques to display relationships in complex adaptive systems.
Current and recent research
My research approaches design transitions for sustainability from a variety of angles. I enjoy both theoretical and applied research. Often my work serves to facilitate communication and collaborations in other fields and across disciplines or sectors. Some of my recent research includes:
- In 2019 I worked as co-investigator on an ESRC research project titled “Powering Productivity: Mapping the Role of Energy and Wellbeing” (worth £325k). I led the interdisciplinary participatory mapping process. This project was led by with Professor Tim Jackson at CUSP (Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity) at the University of Surrey. I am a fellow at CUSP.
- I conducted a research project on mapping complexity with CECAN (Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus) in 2017.
- I have recently worked with the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) on their Safer Complex Systems report. I was a speaker at the RAEng Interdisciplinary Panel on Decarbonisation, National Engineering Policy Centre’s bi-annual plenary in 2020.
- I will be delivering a keynote at the Design History Society’s 2022 DHS Annual Conference Design and Transience in August 2022.
- I completed an AHRC funded PhD in Design titled “The Visual Communication of Ecological Literacy: Designing, Learning and Emergent Ecological Perception” at the University of Brighton in 2012. This work describes how visual culture and methods can support relational ways of knowing and doing.
My long-term goals involve situating myself in a transdisciplinary context where I can use systemic design skills to facilitate collaborations on issues of sustainability. With a focus on the politics of design practices, my work will continue to critically challenge reductive methods to support relational ways of knowing and new agencies in transitions contexts.
- SAB803 - Content and Context: Society, Culture and Economy
- SAC807 - Synergising Directions in Graphic Communication and Illustration Practice
- SAC806 - Destinations in Graphic Communication and Illustration Practice
- SAP105 - Design and Research
As an environmental communication designer, I have worked in a variety of spaces in academia, the creative industries, publishing, and non-profit and activist organisations. I co-founded Transition Town Brixton (2007) and have worked with many groups on issues of environmental and social justice . More recently I have collaborated with professional organisations including Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng). I am also co-convenor of the Design Research Society’s (DRS) Sustainability Special Interest Group (SusSiG). I am also a founding member of the Systemic Design Association (SDA).
I am keen to work with people interested in expansive approaches to design research. I aim to support interdisciplinary design research working between the schools, departments and institutes at Loughborough University. Please feel free to contact me with postgraduate research ideas and proposals.