Biography / Profile
I am a lecturer in Design History and Context within the School of Design at Edinburgh College of Art. Prior to this I lectured at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design and worked as a Research Fellow in the History of Art Department at The Open University. I also ran, for five years, my own research company providing research, curatorial and writing services for a range of clients across the cultural sector.
My subject interest lies in the history of design and material culture studies and I am particularly interested in issues revolving around the social and cultural construction of space as they are articulated through design. In 2005 this resulted in the publication of a book charting the relationship between garden design and wider socio-cultural, political, scientific and philosophical movements. More recently my interests have returned to interior spaces and the significance of gender in the construction of space, place and spatial meaning, which picks up on work that was published in an anthology of interior design.
I am currently researching the meaning and significance of the home to the elderly and how this can help to maintain a sense of individual and social identity in later life. I am also interested in the ways in which design might be used to help maintain these connections particularly when elderly people move from their own home to a care home.
This connects to a broader area of interest that revolves around the relationship between design and the social economy. As well as investigating socially engaged design that takes its lead from community and grassroots projects I am also interested in the educational opportunities for design students to practice ‘alternative’ approaches to design in ways that connect them to local issues and communities.
Recent publications and conference papers:
Think Play: Using Grassroots Movements as Educational Opportunities. Long paper (with Sonia Matos) at Cumulus Conference, National College of Art and Design, Dublin, 7-9 Nov 2013
Footprint: a collaborative project of socially-engaged sustainable design’. Online poster presentation, DESIS Forum Showcase, Helsinki (Design Network for Social Innovation and Sustainability) May, 2012 (with Juliette MacDonald, Sonia Matos and Cat Rossi)
‘The mobile office – an autoethnographic account’ (co-author Juliette MacDonald) in IDEA Journal 2011 - Interior Economies edition
‘Designing the Modern Interior. From the Victorians to Today (ed, P. Sparke, et al.) Review Article’, in West 86th, Chicago University Press, v. 18 n. 1, 2011