John’s diverse academic and industry experience is reflected in his commitment to design across disciplines and cultures. He researches humanitarian innovation through impactful NGO partnerships.
Dr John Stevens joined the RCA in 2013 with the launch the Global Innovation Design MA/MSc. He brings a diverse range of academic interests and industry experience, with a BSc in Molecular Biology from King's College, London, an MDes in IDE from the RCA / Imperial College and a PhD in Design and Strategy from Cambridge University.
John researches design’s application to social, cross-cultural and humanitarian innovation – as products, interactions and systems.
He supervises five PhD researchers in innovation and design management.
He has twelve years’ experience in industry, as Head of Design/UX in dot-com tech then as independent design consultant, for clients such as Orange, British Gas, EMAP, Hewlett-Packard, Diageo, Sky, Thomson Travel Group, Quentin Blake and Which?
Prior to the RCA, John was Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University, Newcastle.
School, Centre or Area
Publications, exhibitions, other outcomes
Stevens, J. (2019) What (and How) to Teach Designers About Humanitarian Innovation? DS 95: Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2019), University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. 12th-13th September 2019.
Lee, C.H. et al. (2019) Synaesthetic-Translation Tool: Synaesthesia as an Interactive Material for Ideation Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 1-6.
Choi, Y.J., Stevens, J. & Brass, C. (2018) Carative Factors in the Design Development Process: Towards Understanding Owner–Object Detachment and Promoting Object Longevity. The Design Journal, 1-21.
Pao, D. et al. (2018) Design better EPR: a mixed methods survey and ‘test drive’ comparing clinical usability across two systems and a provotype interface. HIV MEDICINE, 19, S99-S100.
Pao, D. et al. (2018) Electronic Medical Records: Provotype visualisation maximises clinical usability. Electronic Visualisation and the Arts, 228-235.
Pao, D., Stevens, J. & Lockton, D. (2017) Together in electric screams: the frustrations of GUM electronic patient records (EPR). Sex Transm Infect, 93, A34-A35.
Choi, Y., Stevens, J. & Brass, C. (2017) Carative factors to guide design development process for object-owner detachment in enabling an object’s longevity. PLATE: Product Lifetimes and the Environment: Conference Proceedings of PLATE 2017, 8-10 November 2017, Delft, the Netherlands, 9, 84.
Stevens, J. et al. (2017) Engage: redoing how we talk about depression. REDO Cumulus 2017,
Stevens, J. & Townsend, H. (2017) Building cross-border communities: trans-national innovation design students create trans-cultural innovations and a global network of practice. DS 88: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE17), Building Community: Design Education for a Sustainable Future, Oslo, Norway, 7 & 8 September 2017
Balint, T.S. & Stevens, J. (2016) Wicked problems in space technology development at NASA. Acta Astronautica, 118, 96 - 108.
Balint, T.S., Depenbrock, B. & Stevens, J.S. (2015) Design Driven Approach to Optimize the Research and Development Portfolio of a Technology Organization. 66th International Astronautical Congress, Jerusalem, October 2015,
Choi, Y. et al. (2015) Opportunities for Sustainable Packaging Design: Learning from Pregnancy as a Metaphor. Sustainable Innovation 2015, 55-64.
Stevens, J. et al. (2013) Colourful stories: exploring the transformative potential of colour culture in a Northumbrian mining town. AIC Colour 2013, 12th Congress of the International Colour Association,
Stevens, J. (2013) Design as communication in micro-strategy — strategic sensemaking and sensegiving mediated through designed artefacts. Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing (AIEDAM) Special Issue, 27, 133-142.
Stevens, J.S. (2011) Design as a strategic resource: design’s contributions to competitive advantage aligned with strategy models. PhD thesis, Cambridge University.
Selected Conference Papers, Presentations and Talks
Colourful stories: Multidisciplinary innovation in a Northumbrian social regeneration project, Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability (DESIS) within the UK HE Landscape, Northumbria University, Newcastle, May 21 2013
Sense and Symbolic Objects: Strategic Sensemaking through Design. 2012 International Design Management Research Conference, 8-9 August 2012, Boston USA
Good enough to eat: experiential design through making and faking. Making Conference, 24-27 September 2012 Notodden, Norway
How is Design Strategic? 2nd International Conference on Design Principles and Practices, 9-11 January 2008, University of Miami, Florida, USA
Design dis-integration, Undisciplined! Rigour in Emerging Design Disciplines and Professions. Design Research Society 2008 Conference, 16-19 July 2008, Sheffield, UK
Designing and design thinking in strategy concepts: frameworks towards an intervention tool, International DMI Education Conference, Design Thinking: New Challenges for Designers, Managers and Organisations, 14-15 April 2008, ESSEC Business School, Cergy-Pointoise, France
- Design advisor, Real Relief ‘SuperTowel’ (Humanitarian Innovation Fund)
- Design advisor, Oxfam (Humanitarian Innovation Fund)
- AHRC Peer Review College
- (2016-present) ECR Representative, London Doctoral Design Centre Steering Group
- (2015-2018) External examiner, MSc Product Design Innovation/Enterprise, Aston University.
- (2017) External examiner, PhD Cambridge University, Institute for Manufacturing
- (2017) UK Digital Economy Crucible member, part of CHERISH-DE (Challenging Human Environments and Research Impact for a Sustainable and Healthy Digital Economy) EPSRC project.
- (2014) Mentor and panel judge, ’Be Innovative 2014’ British Council, Beijing
- (2011) Visiting PhD Examiner, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
- (2011) Leader and presenter, FuturoDesign Lab, Moscow University of Industry and Finance
Humanitarian Innovation Fund / EHLRA expert adviser