School of Design
Head of Programme
Reader in Smart Textiles
Anne Toomey, Head of Programme for Textiles at the Royal College of Art, is a textile design, colour and materials specialist with national and international experience in research-based design, product development, manufacture and student-centred education.
Motivated by and contributing to the development of textiles as a discipline to enhance its currency and relevancy in the twenty-first century, Anne’s focus lies in design-led innovation and craftsmanship with materials, specifically new and emerging, in order to redefine the relationship between products and the human experience.
She has a track record of initiating innovative approaches to cross-disciplinary collaborations and is a champion for Design-STEM practice, specialising in responsive and interactive printed surfaces.
Anne Toomey has a strong background in and conviction for the culture of making. Questioning and challenging the materiality of our lives is at the core of her practice, be that commercial/industrial or academic education and research.Show more
Her own creative journey started with foundation studies at Medway College of Design, Rochester. From there she studied Fashion and Textiles at Brighton before entering the commercial world, designing and managing design for one of the UK’s leading emerging talents during the 1980s, Timney-Fowler.
After designing and producing luxury accessories for knitwear designer Marion Foale in the late 1980s, Anne established her own luxury accessories business in 1990. Stockists included Harvey Nichols, Liberty, Fenwick and Fortnum & Mason in the UK and Barneys, Saks, Charivari and Bergdorf Goodman in the US, in addition to many independent stores and boutiques across Europe.
She joined the Royal College of Art as a senior tutor in 1997 and became deputy head of textiles in 2004.
During this time she began her research into responsive, interactive and smart surfaces. This led to the founding of the P3i research group at Northumbria University’s satellite London campus and her appointment as reader within the group. She engaged with a range of multidisciplinary collaborators, including Akzo Nobel, the NASA Glenn Research Centre and global brands Philips and Unilever on advanced materials and fabrication methods for ‘smart’ surfaces.
Anne thrives on exploring new areas of practice and defining and articulating their point of difference and has approached this through industry, academia and research. As an academic with a track record of working with industry, she has first hand experience of the complexities of aligning both worlds successfully. As a designer and design educator, she operates from a future-led perspective in order to maintain contemporary currency.
Within her own practice as a design consultant, Anne has worked with architects DMWR on colour and materials for the Barbican Centre, produced expert reports on smart and self-healing materials for UCL and NESTA, bridged the gap between design and technology with TEKO Design School in Denmark and worked with Sue Timney in designing and executing her exhibition, Sue Timney and the Art of Timney Fowler at the Fashion and Textile Museum in 2010.
Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes
(2014) Toomey, A. Kapsali, V. Beyond the idea – D:STEM, a new approach to design and science intergration. STS Italia conference proceedings (at press)Show more
(2014) Toomey, A. Oliver, R., O’Connor, N., Stevenson-Keating, P. A Design-led, Materials Based Approach to Human Centred Applications Using Modified Dielectric Electroactive Polymer Sensors. Springer (at press)
(2013) Toomey, A. Kapsali, V. Tandler, L. Oliver, R. ‘Biomimetic Spatial and Temporal (4D) Design and Fabrication’. In Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems (pp.387-389) Springer
(2011) Toomey, A. Tillotson, J. Oliver, R. ‘Physical Basis for Ambient Intelligence’. Ambi-Sys, Ambient Media and systems conference, Porto European Alliance for Innovation
(2010) Toomey, A. Oliver, R. ‘Bioengineered Textiles – The Convergence of Bioengineering and Electroactive Conductive Polymers for Assistive Healthcare’. WACBE – TBIS special symposium, Hong Kong
(2010) Toomey, A. Oliver, R. ‘Design Drives Materials Innovation’. Royal Academy of Engineering Journal – Ingenia
(2010) Toomey, A. Visible Invisibility. Medical and Healthcare Textiles, Woodhead