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Dr Chris Thorpe


  • Dr Chris Thorpe is a Senior Tutor in Intelligent Mobility at the Royal College of Art.

    He is Director of Intelligent Design Associates Limited, established in 2011, which a strategic interdisciplinary 3D design studio focused on the commercial ethical-technical design space.

    Chris’s practice and research interests span sustainable products and system design, as well as the paradigm of new technology and its relevance to human culture, experience and value.

    Chris has 25 years’ experience in design and teaching. He has worked in commercial design practice – including leading the design innovation group at QinetiQ from 2000 to 2011 – and in academic research, via an applied doctoral research post at Cranfield University.
  • Biography

  • Chris completed his degree in WMPC (wood, metal, plastics and ceramics) at Brighton in 1988, before taking an MA in Furniture Design and Technology at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University in 1991.

    In 1992 he exhibited new work with the UK’s British European Design­ Group at Designlabor – a hybrid postgraduate education and consultancy organisation in Germany. Following the exhibition, he was invited to return as a visiting postgraduate lecturer and to lead development on their social design projects, such as Weserbus, a high-speed, public river transport system.

    In 1995 he returned to the UK to take up a case-funded PhD at Cranfield University. This research examined the domain of ‘smart’ materials, user psychology and design process via novel morphing product control surfaces. During the course of his research he also led a series of commercial technical design projects in the area of smart products for leading consumer electronics and consumer health companies.

    In 2000, on completion of his doctorate at Cranfield, Chris joined the soon-to-be privatised Research & Development organisation QinetiQ (Formerly DERA) to develop and lead the commercial/technical design offering. During his ten years at QinetiQ, Chris developed a vibrant commercial research/design group. The work of the group spanned strategic insight/foresight for brands such as Diageo and numerous integrated technology/design programmes. These included adaptive camouflage, intelligent sports equipment device design, covert security and logistical renewable energy systems for leading brand owners in sports equipment, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), consumer electronics, packaging and design for the retail sectors.

    In addition to commercially funded research, Chris also led a range of UK and EU-funded projects including; a two-year European multi partner FP7 programme to develop an intelligent hospital bed called ‘EPOSBED’, and a semantic web-futures study for the UK NHS National Innovation Centre.    

    In 2011 Chris started his own practice Intelligent Design Associates to allow him to focus on developing an interdisciplinary design business underpinned by sustainability and future technology. The group includes a diverse network of scientific and design expertise and works in areas such as future domestic energy systems, consumer electronics and novel interfaces, food and packaging innovation and education.

    Chris has written, presented and published widely in areas including sustainability, innovation practice, the future of furniture, crowd sourcing, smart products and systems and packaging.
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