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Personal profile

Research interests

I am fascinated by design and seek opportunities to expand and diversify the discipline. I am motivated by systemic complexity and disciplinary ways of knowing. Areas of particular interest are social innovation and sustainable futures, morality and ethics in design, interdisciplinarity, and collaboration.

My research activities seek to achieve social benefit through design. My approach to research is practice-based and generally conducted in collaboration with colleagues from other disciplines.

Research projects conducted in pursuit of these ambitions include:

“Anticipating Futures: Forecasting and Climate Preparedness for Co-located Hazards in India (ANTICIPATE)”. Partners: University of Brighton (UK), Institute of Development Studies (UK), All India Disaster Management Institute (IN). Funder British Academy, Knowledge Frontiers Scheme.

‘Inter-Disciplinary Education Agenda (IDEA): An essential driver for innovation’, Funded by the EU TEMPUS scheme. This project helped to improve knowledge exchange and innovation between engineering and design disciplines and business, in higher education institutes.

‘The Human Body Form’ A collaborative arts/medicine pedagogic research study investigating the potential benefits of drawing as a method for inter-disciplinary learning.

‘Designing for the Future’ a multi-disciplinary design competition that seeks to develop design innovations to benefit an ageing population, sponsored by The Future Perfect Company.

'Using Biomechanical data to inform student learning about chair design.' The study, which aimed to develop innovative models for interdisciplinary teaching, was funded by the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning through Design (CETLD).

The successful completion of this project led to a second CETLD-funded research study titled: 'Design in the Clinical Environment.' The project was a further development of the interdisciplinary teaching model identified during the previous research and moved the focus from the chair to the built environment.

I am an External Reviewer for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC); and Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA).

Supervisory Interests

Tom Ainsworth is the Academic Programme Leader for Design and Course Leader for the MA Sustainable Design. His supervisory interests are in Social and Environmental Justices, Progressive and Disruptive Design Research, and Design for Health & Wellbeing.


Current Supervision

Ghazaleh Hassani Fakhrabadi, University of Brighton. Working Title: Future Feminisms in Persian Art, Culture, and Architecture.

Kristen Bullivant, University of Brighton. Working Title: Designing Sustainable Food Futures: a design anthropological approach to cultural value and culinary capital in shaping ‘sustainable’ diets. AHRC Techne funded

Sally Sutherland, University of Brighton. Working title: Design, Culture and Gender Matters: An exploration of design as a socio-material tool for UK public breastfeeding research. AHRC Design Star funded



Merryn Haynes-Gadd, University of Brighton. Thesis Title: Emotional Durability Design Nine: Developing a tool for product longevity. AHRC Design Star funded.



PhD Examination, Giovanni Marmont, University of Brighton. Title: Nanopoetics of Use: Kinetic prefiguration and dispossessed sociality in the undercommons. AHRC Design Star funded

PhD Examination, Catherine Speight, University of Brighton. Title: Looking Understanding and Making Meaning: HE Ceramics Students as a ‘Community of Learners’. AHRC Funded.

PhD Examination, Tobias Mulling, University of Brighton. Title: Embracing the gesture-driven interface: design and evaluation of a mid-air gestural approach based on manipulation.

Approach to teaching

Working across disciplines is an important part of my teaching.  I seek to support individuals to develop the skills that enable them to participate in society - to be empowered and capable of expressing their opinions on issues of social, political, cultural and economic importance.

I have taught across Art, Design and Research courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. I have led several research-driven teaching projects, including interdisciplinary collaborative projects with internal and external partners including Politecnico di Milano, Shenkar College of Engineering, Kings College London, and Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

External positions

External Validator

2021 → …

External Examiner MA Design for Social Innovation and Sustainable Futures, London College of Communication UAL

1 Sept 20201 Feb 2024

Peer Review Pannel Member, Design Research Society

2016 → …


  • NC Drawing Design Illustration
  • Design Research
  • Sustainable Development
  • Futures
  • Systems


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