Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Nick is an award winning, multi-disciplinary designer and published academic whose research and design consultancy impacts on global, industrial companies, international NGOs as well as governing bodies and civic communities in the UK and overseas. He has helped over 50 organisations develop their sustainability and social agendas through design research embodied within tangible and acclaimed products and platforms, spaces and places. He routinely delivers workshops and presentations of research internationally and has been invited to present  findings to The Department of Communities and Local Government, The Cabinet Office, The House of Lords, The Rural Commission, The European Institutes of Culture, The British Council and The World Crafts Council.

Nick has exhibited design research outputs at Tate Modern Exhange, The V&A Museum, The Natural History Museum, The Hayward Gallery and Crafts Council Gallery in London and internationally in the US, across Europe, Asia and Australia. His work has featured in press internationally including The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, The Sunday and Financial Times, The Observer, The Guardian, The Mail and New York Times, ICON, Blueprint, Frame, World of Interiors, New Design, FX, IDFX, Channel 4 and BBC TV and Radio. 

He is founder of the social and sustainable design research group that delivers collaborative research projects, consultancy and design programmes in relation to global challenges with partners across the world.

Subjects and research themes include (not exhaustive):

Design and nature; engagement with nature and design and making methods that directly support biodiversity, habitat restoration and natural capital with UNESCO Biospshere region, Bandung Institute of Technology Indonesia, Forestry Commision, The Forest Foundation Philippines, The British Council, Crafting Futures, The Crafts Council, Emmaus, Rewilding Sussex, The Hertiage Lottery, The Royal College of Art and Goldsmith's Citizen Nature Watch programme. 

Circular economy, systems and design in UK, Asia and ten countries on the African continent. Prevention of waste, the elevation of the value and acceptability of waste materials and circular economies in fashion, design, the built environment and developing communities working with organisations including Ellen MacArthur Foundation, The Arts and Humanities Research Council and The Design Museum, Vision Aid Overseas, The Marine Conservation Society, The Onassis Foundation, Emmaus, The NHS, The British Council, Veolia, PUMA, Interface, Tesco and The Design Council.

Material innovation and sustainable design including propositional product, interior, exhibition and lighting research with Philips, ICI, Eastman, Absolut, New Balance, Habitat, Liberty's, Fender Guitars, The BBC, Vivienne Westwood, The Beatles and Apple Corps, The V&A and Natural History Museum.  

Design and community planning; the role of technology and making in supporting youth and public engagement, inclusive, urban design and community planning with The Nominet Trust, U+I, The British Council, The Trust for Developing Communites, The Rural Community Council Network and this work has been presented by invitation to The House Lords, The Department of Communities and Local Government, The Cabinet Office and The Rural Commission.

The role of design, making and remaking in supporting health and well-being working working with East Sussex County Council, Brighton and Hove City Council, The NHS and The UK Milk Bank.

This collaborative research constructively manifests through the creation of tangible tools, practical digital IT systems and three-diemsional products and engaging interiors, places and spaces, exhibitions, systems and services that are co-developed and utilised by industry, NGOs, charities, governing authorities and communities of diverse types. 

Project funders, as principal or co-investigator, include (not exhaustive); The Arts and Humanties Research Council / AHRC (2021, 2016, 2015, 2012), The Design Museum and AHRC (2022) The British Council (2022, 2021, 2020) and Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2020), The Forestry Commission (2022), Co-op Building Connections (2019), Interreg (2018, 2017, 2012), HEFCE (2017), U+I (2016), The Department of Energy and Climate Change (2012), The Nominet Trust (2013), Brighton and Hove City Council (2015, 17 & 18), The Dreamcatcher, South Africa and Utopia Foundation USA, (2016) Heritage Lottery (2015), Gulbenkian Foundation (2009), The National Lottery (2017, 2010 & 2005), UBM (2013), Tesco (2013), Forbo (2013), REED PLC (2006,07,08), IESE (2013), The Crafts Council (2004), The Design Council (2003). This work has led to innovation and policy change in a number of partner governance and delivery organisations and has helped provide significant income to support the work of charities and community partners in challenging economic times through co-produced and applied research.

He has fulfilled a role as Assistant Head of School for Research, Enterprise and Social Engagement, is a research mentor and sits on school research and enterprise committees as well as having peer reviewed for grant funders including AHRC (Peer review college member), EPSRC, Leverhulme Trust, international journals and conferences and book publishers such as Lawrence King, Thames and Hudson and Routledge. 

Nick teaches across a range of art, design and environment programmes, he co-wrote the University's MA in Sustainable Design and is a PHD supervisor and examiner with three completions and two current students. He has been external examiner and validated programmes for world leading institutions; currently external examiner at The Royal College of Art / MA Intellegent Mobility and MA Industrial Design at Central St Martins and previously MA Ecological Design Thinking at Schumacher College, MA Design Products at The Royal College of Art and MA Material Futures, Central St Martins.



Research interests

My interests broadly relate to social and sustainable design - this includes design, craft and nature, regenerative and restorative design and making practices and circular economies. I have researched practice-based technology and making methods for participatory community planning and making in support of health and well-being.    

Designed products, spaces, services and systems pervade every part of our lives. The world is awash with ‘stuff’  - Design has ‘made it’. However in times of ecological crisis, environmental pollution, biodiversity collapse, social and political uncertainty and economic disparity design stands simultaneously as both disease and cure. 

I am interested in how designing and making contributes to positive, public persuasion, culture shift and design for change beyond delivering the next iteration of homogenous mobile phone. Design, craft and making have agency and are being engaged as tools and means to address issues of our time. Moreover design is about engagement – through potent, product propaganda, meaningful, material messaging and critical, craft campaigns, designers and makers are utilising the powerful language of materials, objects and products and the ubiquity of services and systems to change behaviour, provoke protest and empower people.

Creatives of diverse types are dispensing with disciplinary traditions and forming new alliances, helping rewild and regenerate habitats, promoting clean growth, creating tools for community activism and empowering more virtuous circular economies. Post disciplinary and inter-sectional methods see the rethinking of material manipulation, techno-crafting, distributed manufacturing and open-sourcing broadening inclusion and inviting more democratic pathways for creative change. Some of our most pressing issues have re-awakened design with the critical concern and purpose that once defined it and artists, designers and makers can turn these issues into opportunities for positive intervention and more ethical and sustainable development that integrates more symbiotically with our eco-system.

Supervisory Interests

I have supervised and examined students relating to social and sustainable design (and the link between them) utlising propositional and constructive methods.

I welcome supporting projects that explore materials and making / materials and meaning making / material innovation, the valorisation of waste (through design and making) and circular economies. I lead research projects that engage design and making in the context of biodiversity, nature recovery, health and well-being and social empowerment as well as the co-design and use of craft, design and technology in empowering disengaged and / or marginalised groups and communities in neighbourhood development and participatory planning.

Approach to teaching

My design work is trans-disciplinary and I teach across range of disciplines including visual communication, graphic design, 3D and product design, craft, interior design and architecture, planning and environment. I simultaneously integrate externally funded research into teaching providing students with ‘live’ opportunities to work at the cutting edge of issues of social, economic and environmental research in partnership with stakeholder organisations. 

Community21 as a social enterprise based within the University brokers authentic 'live' opportunities for students and collaborating companies, NGOs or communities. 

This has had a direct impact on student’s winning national and international awards, taking up leading professional roles with organisations such as Shelter, Forum for the Future, Nesta, UK Government, Nike, Adidas, Parley for the Oceans, Ikea etc and developing acclaimed graduate enterprises instigated by interaction with research-led student experiences. 


External positions

Expert Juror - Global Design Challenge, Making Matters Programme, British Council

2022 → …

Board Member UNESCO Biosphere region

2021 → …

External Examiner MA Industrial Design , Central Saint Martins, UAL


External Examiner MA Intelligent Mobility, Royal College of Art


Member British Council Crafting Futures Network, British Council

2020 → …

External Validator / Expert MA Ecological Design Thinking

2020 → …

Steering Group Member Barclays Digital Eagle Labs

2015 → …

Peer reviewer , Leverhulme Trust

2014 → …

External Examiner MA Design Products, Royal College of Art


Judge The Countryside Awards


Peer Review College , Arts and Humanities Research Council





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