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Professor Ashley Hall


  • Professor Ashley Hall
  • Area

    School of Design


    Professor of Design Innovation

  • Acting Head of Programme

    • Design Products
  • Head of Programme

    • MRes: Healthcare & Design
  • Ashley is Professor of Design Innovation in the School of Design at the Royal College of Art. With an MA from the RCA and PhD from the University of Technology in Sydney he has a background in design practice, teaching and research. He joined the Royal College of Art in 2006 teaching and researching in the Innovation Design Engineering programme. He now leads postgraduate research for the school of design and the MRes in Healthcare Design with the medical school at Imperial College. Ashley researches in innovation methods ranging from innovation methods and design thinking to design for safety, experimental design, design pedagogy and globalisation design to cultural transfer. His international activity has included leading cross-cultural design innovation collaborations in Australia, China, Ghana, India, Israel - Palestine, Japan, Korea, Norway, Mali and the USA. He has developed and led commercial-academic partnerships in the transport sector (Airbus Industries, Ford, Huawei), telecommunications (Huawei, O2 Mobile, 3 Mobile- Hutchison Whampoa, Nokia), FMCG (Coca-Cola, Unilever), consumer products (Philips, Sharp, Swarovski) and innovative materials (Samsung).

  • Biography

  • Ashley is Professor of Design Innovation and head of postgraduate research in the school of design at the Royal College of Art. His academic responsibilities include leading a group of over 100 postgraduate researchers across design disciplines in the school and the MRes in Healthcare Design with Imperial College. He completed a BA in Furniture Design at Nottingham Trent University and received his Master's from the RCA in 1992. His doctoral research on translocated making at the University of Technology in Sydney explored cultural transfer between diverse socio-spatial groups in a series of collaborative practice based experimental design projects.

    His research themes include innovation methods, design thinking, globalisation design, cultural transfer, experimental design, design pedagogy and design for safety with current funded projects on a future design identity for Huawei and a global design for safety foresight review for the Lloyds register foundation. Ashley has over 50 academic publications and outputs ranging from books and chapters to papers, reports and documentaries. He is a fellow of the design society and senior fellow of the higher education authority and is a peer reviewer for the AHRC and numerous conferences and journals. He currently supervises a dozen practice-based PhD candidates in industrial design, design engineering, innovation, cybernetics and design education applied in technology focus areas that range from the internet of things to artificial intelligence. He is also a visiting professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing supporting social engineering design.

    His industrial collaborations and funded research income value is over £1.6m. He has developed and led more than 20 commercial-academic partnerships. These include the transport and aerospace  sector with vehicle interior innovations with Ford Europe, experimental aircraft fuselage and interior designs with Airbus Industries, integrated domestic transport energy systems with Sharp solar and McLaren, a full size space hotel with iGuzzini and Thales Alenia, and design identities with Huawei; in the  telecoms area technology mutations with O2 mobile, future of the remote control with the BBC and social innovations in telecommunication devices for Hutchison Whampoa/3 Mobile; alongside projects with the Coca-Cola London Olympic pavilion interactions design, third generation of lighting innovations with Philips Lighting and innovative materials with Samsung.

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  • Practice

  • Diplomat was formed in 1999 and is the design partnership of Ashley Hall and Matthew Kavanagh, who have designed furniture and products for some of the top brands in their sector including ArrMet, Covo, Artifort, Edra, Sintesi, Saporiti, Supporto and Zeritalia. Their work includes the development of product ranges for mass production and an experimental line of furniture using new materials, structures and technologies. 

    Diplomat product launches include Zilla and Ironman. Zilla is an experimental lounge chair made from a composite construction of materials that include glass, aluminium and epoxy. The design employs a ‘continuous craft’ process that leaves visible construction marks. It is part of a production approach that uses ‘making experience’ to produce limited edition collector pieces. Work using composites usually hides all the skill and craft behind a perfect, mould-made synthetic surface, but Zilla is made without moulds and turns the surface inside out, exposing the making process as part of the surface finish. Ironman is inspired by traditional West African tribal furniture, and replaces millennia of ad hoc wood carving with an equally ancient blend of hand carving and casting in iron. This results in each piece being a unique and individual artist creation. Despite the diminutive scale Ironman, like its African forebears, is robust and functional. The sitter has to adopt a crouching posture that is culturally unusual in the West and, therefore, demands a more conscious engagement with the product. Manufactured in East London from CS cast iron, Ironman forms a range of different furniture designs b that are entirely hand carved and therefore will vary with reproduction. 

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    • External collaborations

    • Ashley has run commercial and research collaborations with the following companies:

      Transport Systems Catapult, workshops on sentiment analysis on transportation systems, 2014

      Ford, developing economy transportation innovations, 2014

      Ford eBike and Taxi project, IDE 5 week sponsored commercial module, 2013

      Pernod Ricard, IDE 5 week sponsored commercial module on future domestic entertainment 2013

      Samsung, two-week intensive innovation consultancy developing new generation products, 2012

      Philips, ‘The Third Age of Lighting’, four-week sponsored commercial student module, 2012

      Ford Minivan, consultancy brainstorming at Dunton HQ, 2012

      Ford Younger Buyers, IDE four-week sponsored commercial module, 2012

      BBC, ‘Future of the Remote’, four-week sponsored commercial research project, 2011

      PRAMAC, Elmar Guzzini, Mars Rover, sponsored commercial module, 2011

      Ford Millenials, four-week sponsored commercial module, 2011

      Coca Cola, Olympic pavilion interaction, four-week commercial module and realisation, 2011

      Airbus Industries, ‘Future aircraft cabin 2030’, four-week commercial and IDE consultancy, 2010

      Guzzini, Bin 2 Bin, one-week commercial workshop, book and exhibition, 2010

      Bodo Sperlein, commercial furniture consultancy project, 2010

      Ford Smart Thinking, four-week sponsored commercial module, 2009

      Sharp Solar, McLaren, Swarovski, Sunny Delight, four-week sponsored commercial module, 2008

      Filup, commercial consultancy on water vending, 2008

      Unilever, ‘Cues for Success’, commercial consultancy for packaging, 2008

      Classical Opera Company, Mozart opera sets, four-week project with Jonathan Miller, 2007

      Hutchison Whampoa / 3 Mobile, four-week student module with book and exhibition output, 2007

      Inductive Learning, consultancy project for new educational product, 2007

      02 Mobile, ‘Mutations’, four-week IDE commercial project and book output, 2007

      TK Maxx, four-week sponsored commercial module for sustainable shopping trolley, 2007

      His international collaborations and workshops have included:

      GoGlobal Israel Palestine, Peace of Design collaboration with Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2014

      Future Making research workshop, Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2013

      Harambe Entrepreneurs Forum, Pontificate Council for Justice and Peace, Vatican, Rome, 2013

      GoGlobal Australia, collaborative sports innovation project with University of Technology Sydney, Australia, 2013

      KIDP Winter School, one-week workshop in Busan, South Korea, 2012

      GID Workshop, Thinking Through Making’, Pratt Institute, New York, with Keio (Tokyo), 2012

      GoGlobal South Korea, three-week project on social city software at KAIST, South Korea, 2011

      Foroba Yelen, Mali portable solar lighting for a social enterprise in remote Malian villages, 2011

      Urban Delights workshop, University of Technology Sydney, Australia, 2011

      Magic Teapots, experimental design workshop for KiDP in Daegu, South Korea, 2011

      GoGlobal India, four-week collaboration at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, on Craftology, 2011

      Shock and Awe workshop, University of Technology Sydney, 2010

      GoGlobal China, three-week project on rural-urban migration with students at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 2010

      Guerilla Cities workshop, RMIT Melbourne, Australia, 2009

      GoGlobal Ghana, four-week project on eArtisans at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana with British Council, 2009

      Futuremakers, one-week workshop, KHiO, Oslo, Norway, 2009

      GoGlobal Japan 2008, three-week module on the future of food with Tsukuba University, Japan, 2009

      GoGlobal China, three-week collaborative project on post-consumerism at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 2007

      GoGlobal Thailand, Massclusivity with Thai Creative Design Centre, 2006–7

      Keynotes and Invited Lectures (selection):

      Future Unknown, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, Keynote Speech and Chairing Panel Session, December 2018

      Days of Industrial Design, Skolkovo Innovation centre, Moscow Russia, Keynote speech & panel session June 2018

      Future Unknown, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, Keynote Speech and Chairing Panel Session, November 2017

       Lloyd Register Foundation Conference, Institution of Engineering and technology, London, October 2016

      Autodesk Digital Catapult Future of Making Day, keynote speech, Euston, London April 2016

      Cape Peninsular University Cape Town, Innovation Edge, March 2016

       Taipei City International Design Prize keynote speech, Taipei, October 2015

      Lotus Design Prize keynote speech, Changsha, China, October 2014

      Kyushu University, Japan, Innovation Edge, August 2014

       Design Research, keynote speech at the 2nd International Central China Art & Design forum, Jingdezhen, 2013

      Translocated Making, doctoral lecture at Imperial College London, 2013

      Harambe Entrepreneurs Forum speaker, Pontificate Council for Justice and Peace, Vatican, Rome, 2013

      Translocated Making, public lecture during Sydney design week at the University of Technology Sydney, 2013

      Social City Software, web TV broadcast at SDF, Seoul, South Korea 2012

      Innovation Edge, Keynote and public lecture, Daegu, South Korea 2011

      Chairs, Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College, London 2009, 2010

      How to Invent, IISc Bangalore, India 2010

      Turning smart ideas into reality, Sydney Design week public lecture, Australia 2010

      How to Invent, Jinan University, Shandong Province, China 2010

      Africa Experimental, UTS Sydney, Australia, 2010

      How to Invent, RMIT Graduate Research Conference keynote, Melbourne, Australia, 2010

      Innovation and the New Type of Design, Microsoft Research Centre, Beijing, China, 2010

      Contemporary Homewares, to KNUST faculty and students, Kumasi Ghana, 2009

      Redesign or Die! UTS cross-faculty lecture, Sydney, Australia, 2009

      How to Invent, Hongik University, Seoul, South Korea, 2009

      UNESCO Design City Keynote, Shenzhen, China, 2009

      GoGlobal Thailand project presented at the Design Crafts seminar at London School of Economics (LSE) 2006.

      Books & Book Chapters

      Hall, A. (2017) The Emergence of Translocation in The Encyclopaedia of Asian Design Vol 4. UK: Bloomsbury.

      Hall, A., Nahar, P (eds.) (2017) GoGlobal India: Craftology, UK: Royal College of Art.

      Prendiville, S., Hartung, G., Purvis, E., Brass, C. and Hall, A. (2016). 'Makespaces' In Redistributed Manufacturing to a Circular Economy. In Sustainable design and manufacturing. UK: Springer. pp. 577–589

      Hall, A. (2016) 'Sports Innovation, New Models and Future Potential'. In Southgate, D., Childs, P, Bull, A. (Eds.), Sports Innovation Technology and Research, UK:World Scientific.

      Gaudion, K., Hall, A., Myerson, J. and Pellicano, L. (2015) 'A Designer's Approach, How Can Autistic Adults with Learning Disabilities be Involved in the Design Process?' CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, Taylor & Francis, January, 2015.

       Gaudion, K., Hall, A., Myerson, J. and Pellicano, L. (2015) 'Design and Wellbeing: Bridging the empathy gap between neurotypical designers and autistic adults'. In Mani, M., and Kandachar, P., Design for Sustainable Well-being and Empowerment, IISc Press and TU Delft, pp.61–77.

      Tek-Jin, N. and Hall, A. (eds), (2013) Design Social City Experiences, MKC, South Korea

      Tek-Jin, N. and Hall, A. (eds.) (2013), Designing Social City Experiences, South Korea: MKC

      Hall, A., Childs, P. R., Chao, Z. and Liu, Z. (2012) GoGlobal rural-urban. Beijing, China: Water publishing 

      Hall, A., Mars Rover project sponsored by NASA, ESA, Thales Alenia, PRAMAC (booklet/poster), 2011

      Hall, A., Bin 2 Bin and Space Hotel IDE module sponsored by Guzzini, 2011

      Hall, A., Sunny Delight, Ross Lovegrove Masterclass with IDE, 2008 

      Barker, T. and Hall, A. (2010) 'E-Artisans: Contemporary design for the global market'. In Adamson, G., Riello, G. and Teasley, S. (Eds.), Global Design History. UK: Routledge.

      Hutchison Whampoa, Future of Communications, 2008

      02 Mutations, project with 02 mobile IDE and DI departments RCA, 2007

      Documentary films

      2015: ‘Zero Spaces’, produced 44 min documentary on the research thinking of Prof Ranulph Glanville (1946–2014)

      2014: ‘Peace of Design’ co-produced a12 min documentary on the GoGlobal Israel Palestine collaborative project with Shenkar College.

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    • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

    • Conferences and Papers

      Hall, A. and Cheng, S. (2018) Designing Globalisation Design, Engineering and Product Design Education Conference, London, September 2018

      Hall, A., Ferrarello, L. and Li, W. (2018) 'Introducing tangible aesthetics: Contrasting the introduction of aesthetic analysis tools for product designers and interdisciplinary design researchers', Engineering and Product Design Education Conference, London, September 2018

      Anderson, P., Hall, A., Ferrarello, L., Cooper, R. and Ross, C. (2018) Foresight Review on Design for Safety, Lloyds Register Foundation, London.

      Hall, A, Ferrarello, L. and Kann, M. (2017) Safety Grand Challenge: Safe Ship Boarding and Thames Safest River 2030, Report for the Lloyds Register Foundation

      Ferrarello, L., Hall, A., Kann, M. and Hee Lee, C. (2017) 'Collaborating Design Risk', IASDR Conference, November 2017,Cincinnati, USA.

      Hall, A., Kann, M., Ferrarello, L. and Pulley, R. (2017) 'Encouraging Creative Risk to Reduce Risk to Life', Engineering and Product Design Education Conference, Oslo, Norway, September 2017.

      Hall, A. (2017) 'Is Globalised Design Education Killing Design Variety?' Engineering and Product Design Education Conference, Oslo, Norway, September 2017.

      Pulley, R., Hall, A. and Burkitt, E. (2017) 'Make Your Move: Exploring a Pedagogic Toolkit for Creative Development and Global Learning in Primary Education', Learn X Design, June 2017, Ravensbourne, London.

      Hall, A. (2016) 'Designing Creative Destruction', Design Research Society Conference, Brighton, UK, June 2016.

      Hall, A., Bahk, Y., Gordon, L. and Wright, J. (2016) 'The Elastic Octopus: A Catalogue of Failures for Disrupting Design Education', Engineering and Product Design Education Conference, Aalborg, Denmark, September 2016.

      Hall, A. (2015) Ubiquitous Tendencies: Cultural Inspirations and the Future of Industrial Design for Mass Production, Korean Society of Design Science, Archives of Design Science, November 2015.

      Balint, T. and Hall, A. (2015) 'The Role of Cybernetics in Planetary Probe Missions', 12th International Planetary Probe Workshop, Cologne, Germany, June, 2015.

      Balint, T., Hall, A. (2015) 'Humanly Space Objects, Connection and Perception with the Observer', Acta Astronautica, Elsevier, January, 2015.

      Balint, T. and Hall, A. (2015) 'How to Fly your Humanly Space Object', 66th Annual Astronautical Congress, Jerusalem, 2015.

      Rogers, P., Hall, A., Winton, E., Land, E. and Aurisicchio, M. (2013) ‘Are We All Designers?’, in: Proceedings of International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

      Torrisi, S. and Hall, A. (2013) Missing Miscommunications in Interdisciplinary Design Practice, in: Proceedings of International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

      Hall, A. (2013) ‘Translocated making in collaborative experimental design projects’, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Technology Sydney; also available here.

      Hall, A., Childs, P., Wuggetzer, I. and Mayer, T. (2013) Future aircraft cabins and design thinking Optimisation vs. Win-win scenarios, Propulsion and Power Research, Elsevier 

      Yan, Y., Childs, P. and Hall, A. (2013) An Assessment of Personality Traits and Their Implications for Creativity Amongst Innovation Design Engineering Masters Students Using the MBTI and KTS Instruments, in: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED13), Seoul, Korea

      Hall, A., Childs, P. R., Chao, Z. and Liu, Z. (2012) GoGlobal  rural-urban, Beijing, Water Publishing

      Hall, A., Childs, P., Wuggetzer, I. and Mayer, T. (2012) ‘Future aircraft cabins and design thinking: Optimisation vs. Win-win scenarios’, in: Proceedings of the 4th international symposium on jet propulsion and power engineering, Sept 10-12 Xi'an, China ISJPP-2012

      Hall, A., Kulkarni, A. and Konate, B. (2012) ‘Foroba Yelen: Portable sustainable solar lighting for remote Mailan villages’, in: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Artesis University College, Antwerp, Belgium 6th – 7th September 2012, London and Glasgow, The Institute of Engineering Designers/The Design Society

      Barker, T. and Hall, A. (2011) 'e-ARTISANS Contemporary design for the global Market', in: G. Adamson, G. Riello and S. Teasley (eds), Global Design History, New York and London, Routledge, pp. 180–188

      Hall, A. and Barker, T. (2011) ‘Design and geographically liberated difference’, Design Principles and Practice: An International Journal 5(3), pp. 507–516

      Yao, W. and Hall, A. (2011) ‘The transferal of cultural factors from traditional Chinese folk art into contemporary product designs’, Design Principles and Practice: An International Journal, 5(3), pp. 313–326

      Hall, A. (2011) ‘Experimental design: Design experimentation’, Design Issues, 27(2), pp. 17–26

      Barker, T. and Hall, A. (2010) ‘Design collectives in education: Evaluating the atelier format and the use of teaching narrative for collective cultural and creative learning, and the subsequent impact on professional practice’, in: Proceedings of Alternative Practices in Design: Past Present and Future, Melbourne, Australia, RMIT

      Hall, A. and Childs, P. (2009) ‘Innovation design engineering: Non-linear progressive education for diverse intakes’, in: Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, 10–11 September, Brighton, University of Brighton, pp. 312–317

      Hall, A. (2009) ‘Context and cohabitation of linear and non-linear systems in design’, in: Proceedings of International Association of Societies of Design Research Conference, Seoul, Korea

      Barker, T. and Hall, A. (2009) ‘GoGlobal: How can contemporary design collaboration and e-commerce models grow the creative industries in developing countries?’, in: Proceedings of International Association of Societies of Design Research Conference, Seoul, Korea

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    • Awards and Grants

    • Lloyds Register foundation Global Design Safety Foresight Review.  2017–18 

      Lloyds Register Foundation Ship to Ship Transfers Safety Grand Challenge grant, 2016–17 

      EPSRC Redistributed manufacturing. CI for Circular Makerspaces subproject. Executive committee member, 2016 

      LDOC Doctoral Award Symbiotic relationships in environments of change, 2016 

      Microsoft Research Doctoral award. Designing the design of the internet of things, 2015 

      AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award, Mannequins for the 21st Century, V&A/RCA, 2014 

      Co-Investigator on the Transport Systems Catapult, series of workshops exploring sentiment analysis for disruption on transportation systems, £20,000, 2013 

      British Council Korea, grant to support GoGlobal exhibition, book publication and accommodation, 2012 

      Seoul Design Foundation, grant to support exhibition and GoGlobal book publication, 2012 

      AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award, Mannequins for the 21st Century, V&A/RCA, 2014–17

      AHRC Network Grant, We Are all Designers, with Northumbria University, 2012

      British Council India, grant to support publication of GoGlobal book and travelling exhibition, 2011

      British Council Korea, grant to support GoGlobal exhibition, book publication and accommodation, 2012

      Seoul Design Foundation, grant to support exhibition and GoGlobal book publication, 2012

    Selected work


    Research interests

    Ashley Hall actively researches through practice-based design projects. He writes and publishes in the a range of areas, including experimental design, industrial design pedagogy, non-linear systems in design, cultural transfer, design in developing economies, design and geographically liberated difference and design thinking.

    Current and recent research

    Ashley’s practice-based design projects include ‘Translocated Making’, which explores the concept of design and geographically liberated difference and its mediation between digital and analogue methods for creative cultural exchange between remote cultures of making. Recent fieldwork at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and in the Rann of Kutchchh in India developed a number of experimental engagement models with craftsmen in a variety of materials and techniques to explore emerging methods in how difference can be liberated from geography.

    He has been jointly awarded an AHRC grant ‘We are all designers’ with Northumbria University that seeks to explore the disciplinary landscape, activity range and boundaries of design as a behavioural phenomenon. The project is engaged in the process of mapping the complex inter-connected relationships between communities and practices of non-designers and designers characterised by fluid, evolving patterns of practice that regularly traverse, transcend and transfigure disciplinary and conceptual boundaries.

    He is also collaborating with fellow academics and commercial partners on a number of papers in the broad area of design thinking and the publication of two edited books on the IDE GoGlobal projects in India and Korea.


    Research students