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Dr Ninela Ivanova


  • Dr Ninela Ivanova is an Innovation Fellow at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the RCA. Ninela is an interdisciplinary designer and researcher who is passionate about working co-creatively with people to educate and inspire audiences towards innovation and collaboration on a global scale. She heads the Inclusive Design for Business Impact area, which looks at how the methods, tools and processes of inclusive design, design thinking and creative leadership can directly impact and transform business and industry. Project partners in this impact area include Tata Consultancy Services, Panasonic, WSP and Google among others, with whom we are developing creatively leading, empathic and socially sustainable processes, technologies, environments and systems.

    Ninela joined the RCA in January 2018 as a Creative Economy Engagement Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, working alongside HHCD Director Rama Gheerawo to grow the evidence-base and scope of home-grown creative leadership research and its three pillars: creativity, empathy and clarity. This research brings together design and neuroscience to further knowledge and practical applications in areas of personal and organisational transformation, as well as thought leadership projects that holistically address technological, environmental and personal needs and aspirations.

  • Biography

  • Dr Ninela Ivanova specialises in translating abstract concepts into practical applications for design, enterprise, innovation and education. Her research interests are broad and multidisciplinary and include disruptive technologies, fashion tech, sensory design and human experience, inclusive fashion, emotion-led design, design and empathy, intersecting design and neuroscience, olfaction, future fashion materials and bio-based design to name a few. Creative leadership and people-centred approaches to design and innovation are at the heart of her thinking and practice.

    Ninela holds a PhD in Design Research from Kingston University, London, where she worked with collaborators and participant groups from science, design, public, academic and industry sectors to advance engagement with novel and challenging concepts intersecting materials and sensory experience. She has a Master's degree in Fashion Futures from Kingston School of Art and an undergraduate degree in Fashion from the National Academy of Art, Bulgaria.

    Ninela is an effective communicator and facilitator, who has presented, exhibited and delivered workshops and executive education at various national and international platforms, such as Creative Leadership Masterclass (London, 2019), Innovation for All 2018 (Oslo, 2018), London Design Festival: Design Frontiers (London, 2017), the 1st Global Disability Innovation Summit (London, 2017), the 10th International Design & Emotion Conference (Amsterdam, 2016), WEAREABLE (Paris, 2016) and Fashion & the Senses (London, 2015).

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  • External collaborations

  • Design consultant for neuroscience-based consultancy MindRheo

    Design researcher: Mycelium + Timber w/ Sebastian Cox Ltd.

    Honorary Research Fellow at Kingston School of Art, Kingston University London

    Design with Scents alumna

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  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Selected publications

    Flory, M. & Ivanova, N. (2019) ‘Design meets Neuroscience: Future directions for developing and implementing design probes’, Design Research for Change. Design Museum, London, 11–12 December 2019. In press.

    Ivanova, N. (2019) ‘What is CreativeLeadership?’, dmi: review, 30(2), pp.6–8.

    Flory, M. & Ivanova, N. (2019) ‘FutureDirections: Design meets Neuroscience’, dmi: review, 30(2), pp.22–29.

    Jakob, A., Collier, L. & Ivanova, N. (2019) ‘Implementing Sensory Design for care-home residents in London’, International MinD Conference 2019: Designing with and for People with Dementia: Wellbeing, Empowerment and Happiness. Dresden, Germany, 19-20 September 2019.

    Ivanova, N. (2016) ‘The T-probe: Advancing engagement with material concepts and sensory experiences’, 10th International Conference on Design & Emotion: Celebration and Contemplation. Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 27–30 September 2016.

    Flory, M. & Ivanova, N. (2016) ‘The Emo-T Global Wall: Design and emotion or emotion-led design?’, 10th International Conference on Design & Emotion: Celebration and Contemplation. Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 27–30 September 2016.

    Ivanova, N. (2015) ‘The T-Probe: A fashion-led approach to advance understanding of novel and challenging materials concepts and sensory experiences’, PhD Thesis, Kingston University London.

    Ivanova, N. (2013) ‘The Human-Mould-Fashion Relationship: fungi applications for future design scenarios in fashion and textiles fabrication’, Futurescan 2: Collective Voices / Association of Fashion and Textiles Courses (FTC). Sheffield, UK, January 2013.


    Keynotes, presentations, panel discussions

    Ivanova, N., (2019) ‘Fungi for Material Futures’, Fungi Fest 2019. Hoxton Docks, London, 6 October 2019

    Ivanova, N. (2019) ‘Creative Leadership’, Aurora Women in Leadership 1st Summer Symposium. Royal College of Art, London, 8 July 2019.

    Responding to (Wildgoose, 2019) ‘Measuring the Silences and the Work of Mourning: Extinction and the Anthropocene,’ Wildgoose Memorial Library at King’s. King’s College,

    Ivanova, N. (2019) ‘Designing with Nature’, Changing Futures Week. University of Northampton, Northampton, UK, 4 February 2019

    Presenting (Norman, J. & Pozzani, N., 2017) at ‘Designing with Smell’, 
    The UK Semiochemistry Network Chemistry Signals in Vertebrates British Workshop XXV. Cambridge, UK, 19 July 2017

    Ivanova, N.(2017) ‘Sense in Textiles: A Shared Space through Fashion’, Body & Material Mediated Design, 1st Global Disability Innovation Summit. GDI Hub, London, 13-14 Jul 2017

    Ivanova, N.(2015) ‘Fashion Sensorial’, Fashion & the Senses. London College of Fashion, London, 27 March 2015

    Ivanova, N. (2014) ‘Sense in Textiles: the role of wearable textiles and fashion for people with dual sensory impairment’, Thinking Differently: Creativity versus Academic Excellence. London College of Fashion, London, 28 October 2014

    P Ivanova, N. (2013) ‘Fungi for Textile Futures’, The Arts Foundation: A Trans-Disciplinary Approach to Materials Innovation. Victoria & Albert Museum London, 17 September 2013


    Workshop delivery & facilitation

    Gheerawo, R. & Ivanova, N. (2019) ‘Creative Leadership’, Executive Education: Masterclass. Royal College of Art, London, 28–29 November 2019

    Flory, M. & Ivanova, N. (2019) ‘Creative Imagination and Emotional Intelligence’, Unexpected Interludes by Open Platform. Wellcome Collection, London, 14 November 2019

    Gheerawo, R., McGinley, C. & Ivanova, N. (2019) ‘Wellbeing and Robotics’, A five-day bespoke innovation workshop for a Japanese technology company. Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art, London, 10–13 June 2019

    Gheerawo, R. & Ivanova, N. (2019) ‘Creative Leadership’, Executive Education: Masterclass. Royal College of Art, London, 20-21 May 2019.

    Gheerawo, R., Ivanova, N. & Gadzheva, I. (2019) ‘Creative Leadership’, Executive Education for client account managers of a large multi-national technology company. Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art, London, 15 February 2019

    Gheerawo, R. & Ivanova, N. (2019) ‘Design Thinking and Design Doing’, Innovation for All 2018. DOGA, Oslo, 7-8 June 2018

    Jakob, A., Collier, L. & Ivanova, N. (2017) ‘Sensory Design’, Workshop facilitation to explore multi-sensory experiences and co-design ideas for a new sensory room to be set up in a dementia ward. Coombe Hill Manor, Kingston upon Thames, 28 September 2017

    Ivanova, N. (2015) ‘The T-probe’, Climate Change – Designing for a New Reality. Inside Out Festival, OXO Tower, London, 23 October 2015

    Ivanova, N. (2015) ‘The Biology of Fashion: How can biological organisms inspire new materials and processes for fashion fabrication?’, Science Behind Fashion: An educational event for schools organised by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Galashiels Academy, Scotland, 19–20 February 2015

    Ivanova, N. (2014) ‘A Shared Space Through Fashion’, Acquired Deafblindness Network Conference: Life, Love, Laughter. AdbN 2014, Belfast, Ireland, 4–5 November 2014


    Exhibitions and showcases

    Cox, S. & Ivanova, N. (2019) ‘MYCELIUM + TIMBER’. Future and the Arts: AI, Robotics, Cities, Life - How Humanity Will Live Tomorrow. Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan, 19 November 2019 – 29 March 2020

    Flory, M. & Ivanova, N. (2019) ‘The Emo-T Global Wall’, Design Research for Change Showcase. London Design Festival, London, 19–22 September 2019

    Cox, S. & Ivanova, N. (2017) ‘MYCELIUM + TIMBER’. Design Frontiers. London Design Festival, London, 18–24 September 2017

    Ivanova, N. (2016) ‘Mould Perceptions’, WEAREABLE2016. La Gaite Lyrique, Paris, France, 9–14 February 2016

    Ivanova, N. (2012) ‘The Sustainable Luxury Project’, InCrops. Institute of Materials Minerals and Mining, London, 1 March 2012

    Ivanova, N. & Dowd, K. (2012) ‘Reconfigurations: crafting design research’, Exhibition at the
    Platform Gallery.
    Kingston University London, November 2012

    Ivanova, N. (2011) ‘Moulded Mind’, Installation. Vauxhall Fashion Scout, London Fashion Week. Freemasons’ Hall, London, 16 September 2011


    Curated events

    Thopte, I. & Ivanova, N. (2017) ‘Storytelling and Emotion’, Centre for Fashion Enterprise FashTech Meetup 11. Plexal, Here East, London, 29 June 2017

    Thopte, I. & Ivanova, N. (2017) ‘Fashioning Sensory Tech’, Centre for Fashion Enterprise FashTech Meetup 10. Interchange Triangle, London, 27 April 2017

    Thopte, I. & Ivanova, N. (2017) ‘Rediscovering Sustainability’. Centre for Fashion Enterprise FashTech Meetup 9. Interchange Triangle, London, 26 January 2017

    Ivanova, N., Wildgoose, J., Sabbagh, S., Al-Shomely, K., Ungley, P. (2013) ‘Craftsmanship Reconsidered: framing, coding, cutting and unveiling’, Lecture series sponsored by the Visual and Material Culture Research Centre and the Modern Interiors Research Centre. Kingston University London, April – May 2013

    Ivanova, N. & Dowd, K. (2012) ‘Reconfigurations: crafting design research’, Exhibition at the
    Platform Gallery.
    Kingston University London, November 2012

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