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Dr Chiara Barbieri


  • Dr Chiara Barbieri
  • Area

    School of Arts & Humanities


    Visiting Lecturer

  • Dr Chiara Barbieri is a visiting lecturer in the V&A/RCA History of Design programme and is responsible for Unit 3 – Project Portfolio.

  • Biography

  • Dr Chiara Barbieri is a visiting lecturer at the RCA as well as a postdoc researcher at HKB - Bern University of the Arts, where she collaborates on the research project Swiss Graphic Design and Typography Revisited. She also collaborates with Ecal - University of Art and Design Lausanne on a research project on the Milanese years of Xanti Schawinsky. In her spare time, she is trying to turn her doctoral research into a book.

    Dr Chiara Barbieri holds a PhD in History of Design from the RCA. Her thesis explored the professionalisation of graphic design in Milan from the interwar period to the mid-1960s, with a focus on education, mediating channels, design organisations, practices and networks. Before beginning her PhD (2013–2017), she studied History of Contemporary Art at La Sapienza in Rome and at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London where she completed her MA in 2012 specialising in 20th century German Art.
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  • Practice

  • Archival research is central to my practice. All of my projects begin with a close scrutiny and comparative reading of textual content and visual form of primary sources: visual artifacts, archival documents or primary literature. My work is rooted in the history of design, visual and material culture studies and semiotics.

  • External collaborations

  • Dr Chiara Barbieri collaborates with HKB – Bern University of the Arts and Ecal - University of Art and Design Lausanne.

  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Publications

    Barbieri, C. and Fornari, D. (2018). The Lost Typefaces of Xanti Schawinsky: From the Bauhaus to Italy. In: ICDHS 10th+1 Conference Proceedings Book. Barcelona: pp. 296–299.

    Barbieri, C. and Fornari, D. (2018). Uncovering and Questioning Unidesign: Archival Research and Oral History at Work. In: ICDHS 10th+1 Conference Proceedings Book. Barcelona: pp. 808–813.

    Barbieri, C. (2018). The Scuola del Libro in Milan at the Center of a Typographic Quarrel
Between Risorgimento Grafico and Campo Grafico. In: ICDHS 10th+1 Conference Proceedings Book. Barcelona: pp.499–502.

    Barbieri, C. (2017). Daily Bauhaus: An Incomplete Glossary. Progetto Grafico, 31, pp. 103–108.

    Barbieri, C. and Guida F. (2015). AIAP 70x70: Eventi, personaggi e materiali di storia associative. Milan: AIAP.

    Barbieri, C. (2012). A Combination of Simple Elements: The Universal Language of the Bauhaus. Progetto Grafico, 22, pp. 140–155.

    Barbieri, C. (2011). MERZabbildung: Kurt Schwitters’ last collages. The Kurt-Schwitters Society Journal, 1 (1), pp. 24–38.

    Barbieri, C. (2008). Daniel Buren e il restauro a colori dei Deux Plateaux. Rolsa, 10, pp. 101–110.


    AIAP 70x70: Eventi, Personaggi e Materiali di una Storia Associativa, Fabbica del Vapore, Milan, 04-08.11.2015

    From Leipzig to London: The Life and Work of the Émigré artist Hellmuth Weissenborn, Ravensbourne College of Art, London, 30.11-4.12.2012
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  • Awards and Grants

  • 175 RCA scholarship

    Design History Society travel grant

    Stapley Educational Trust research grant

    Il Circolo Italian Cultural Association scholarship


Research interests

Research interests include graphic design, visual culture, propaganda, political caricature and modernisms.

Current and recent research

Dr Chiara Barbieri is currently working on two research projects. Swiss Design and Typography Revisited (sgdtr) is a collaborative research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) in which researchers from seven Swiss universities investigate the role and status of Swiss graphic design from today’s perspective. My case study focuses on the Swiss graphic designer Walter Ballmer and his Milanese studio Unidesign. At the same time, I am also working on another project that investigates the work of the Swiss Bauhausler Xanti Schawinsky during his stay in Milan between 1933 and 1936.