Rachel Simmonds studied architecture at Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen and the Ecole d'Architecture de Clermont Ferrand, France. Her 20+ years in architectural practice saw her working at a senior level for award winning architects in Edinburgh, as well as establishing her own design practice Studio Bof. She undertook projects in housing, education, conservation, theatre and office design, along with architectural conservation, interior design, art commissioning and urban design. Her industry awards include the Saltire Award for Art and Crafts in Architecture and a Scottish Design Award for Public Realm and Landscape .
She started architectural tutoring in 1998 at Scott Sutherland School of Architecture. In 2008 she joined Edinburgh College of Art as a part time tutor in interior design, becoming a full time lecturer in 2016. She teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate courses at ECA, and has been involved in teaching internationally, as part of an international exchange programme. In 2014 she created the Fashion Interior Courses that now form part of the University of Edinburgh / Donghua Univeristy joint partnership. She is currently Senior Lecturer on the MA Interior, Architectural and Spatial Design programme.
Her research work has a focus on the links between Scottish and Nordic modernist architecture and design. She is interested in how architecture is exposed and disseminated through exhibition design, and especially the use of photography in relation to exhibitions. Her architectural and interior design experience has also influenced a variety of investigations around historic and future places of creative working, learning and display.
Rachel is a Senior Lecturer on the MA Interior, Architectural and Spatial Design programme. The programme focuses on supporting students in establishing their own definitions and approaches to the diverse and controversial subjects of interior, space and design. She is also Course Organiser and lecturer for the fourth year undergraduate research course. In 2013 she qualified with a PgCert in Academic Practice and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
As well as teaching in leading Scottish Universities, she has been a visiting lecturer at Hochshule fur Technik Stuttgart, Sculoa universitaria professionael della Svizzera Lugano and Istanbul Technical University, as part of an international Interior Architecture programme. She also taught Fashion Interiors for 2 years at Shanghai College of Fashion as part of the University of Edinburgh/Donghua University joint partnership.
Rachel has been external examiner for the following programmes; BA Hons Interior Design Programme at Glasgow Caledonian University, MA Interior and Spatial Design Course at University of the Arts London, Chelsea School of Art, and the BA Interior Architecture at University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury. She was also the international moderator for Greenside Design College, Johannesburg. Rachel is involved in Interior Educators, a charity established by academics representing Interior programmes from across the UK.
Rachel's research is based around her extensive architectural and interior experience. She is interested in the relationship of people and space within buildings. She has undertaken a series of investigations into the working environments of modernist architects, through photographic analysis, and has given a series of papers at international conferences on the topic. She has also developed work on the future of creative workplaces and teaching environments, and the links between the two. In 2019 some of this work was included in Interior Futures, published by Crucible. She also undertakes research around the history and future of exhibition design, and has published work on this in Idea Journal.
Her interest in modernist architects involved the creation of the Scotianavian research project, which looks at connections between Scottish and Scandinavian architects in the mid 20th century. The first part of this, Northern Grace, looked at links between modernist ecclesiastical design in Finland and Scotland. She has undertaken short research residencies at the Alvar Aalto Foundation in Helsinki to investigate links between the Aalto’s and Scotland, and also the exhibition designs of the Aalto atelier. Her work has been presented and published as part of the Alvar Aalto Researchers Network.
Rachel is currently undertaking research into the exhibition designs of the Aalto atelier as a part time doctoral student at the University of Westminster. In particular, this focuses on the impact of photography within this field of the practice. She also seeks to ensure that in relation to the atelier, the involvement of the architects Aino and Elissa Aalto, Alvar Aalto’s wives and co-directors, is properly recognised.