In 1998 after ten years working in the design industry both in Britain and the United States Zoe Patterson entered Edinburgh College of Art as Graphic Design Programme Director. Since that time she has maintained her professional practice and developed her research in the field of education. This has manifested itself in a number of design and teaching projects, the most significant of which won The Guardian University Award for Employability in 2013.
Zoe has worked with a varied client base on publications, publicity and installation work. These have included exhibitions at; the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh; The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; the Royal Museum of Scotland; The Royal Highland Fusiliers headquarters in Glasgow; and design work for Rank, WHSmith, AT Cross, Nestor, Swarovski, National Libraries and Edinburgh District Council.
In 2011 Zoe finished an 18-month post as a supervisor for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership between NHS Lothian and ECA’s Graphic Design Programme. The project was to engage the public and through early diagnosis help reduce the number of people suffering from head and neck cancer.
In 2016 Zoe began a secondment with the University of Edinburgh's Institute of Academic Development (IAD) in order to explore careers guidance at secondary school level. ‘Graphic Design in a Box’ brought final year Graphic Design students together with University careers advisers, experts in widening participation, and recent graduates, for an intensive, three-week sprint, taking ECA out of the college and into the classroom to introduce high school learners to creative careers pathways.
Within the undergraduate Programme Zoe has established the award winning Design Agency Project. This project creates several independent Agencies comprised of students from each stage of study, supported by mentors from the design sector. Judges said of this project ‘it was an ambitious idea which took a clear risk and this should be applauded.’ Recently Zoe was invited to present the pedagogical principles of the Design Agency Project and discuss contemporary design education research at the Teaching in Practice HEA Conference at the V&A Museum. She also co-presented a paper at the 2013 ‘Design Learning for Tomorrow – Design Education from Kindergarten to PhD’ at the DRS//Cumulus Conference, Oslo.
Zoe has supplemented her practice and research with an interest in the teaching methods of other institutions abroad. She has spent time teaching in Australia, mainly Queensland College of Art, Brisbane and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.