Gail is a design researcher. Her research addresses social challenges through participatory and co-design methods with citizens and communities.
Gail runs research projects within the Inclusive Design for Social Impact space at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design (HHCD). She co-leads the Public Toilets Research Unit with Professor Jo-Anne Bichard, which undertakes inclusive and people-centred design research to improve toilet provision for all.
Gail has worked at HHCD, and in Inclusive Design, since 2009. As well as leading research projects, she is an RCA PhD supervisor. She also lectures in inclusive and participatory design within the RCA. Since 2020 she has been the co-academic lead, with Dr Katie Gaudion, for the Helen Hamlyn Design Awards for outstanding RCA graduate projects that improve people’s lives.
Gail graduated from RCA in 2007 (MA Industrial Design Engineering) and has professional experience in wayfinding, product and industrial design. Before this, she worked internationally as a mechanical engineer.
Engaged seeks to increase the time people spend in high streets and town centres by creating pathways to reuse empty commercial and community space as long-term public toilet solutions. It is part of the Mayor of London’s ‘Designing London’s Recovery’ programme which supports projects that take a design-led approach to address London’s post-pandemic challenges.
Gail develops research projects that engage communities in the design research process. She has explored community engagement at different scales, from the co-design of a workplace to developing digital tools for neighbourhood plans.
She has also explored how the design process can capture and respond to people’s attitudes and aspirations, from childhood obesity to autonomous vehicles. She has a strong emphasis on public engagement and is always interested to explore new ways to engage citizens in research.
Gail has been a researcher on five public toilet projects, most recently Engaged: A toilet on every high street. and is creator of The Great British Public Toilet Map and the Toilets Innovation and New Knowledge Exchange (TINKLE).
Gail is co-director of Public Convenience, a design and access consultancy for non-domestic toilets. Public Convenience is run as a social enterprise. It was set up in 2017 by Gail, Jo-Anne Bichard and software developers Neontribe as an RCA spin-out company, supported by InnovationRCA, for the long-term management of The Great British Public Toilet Map.
Engaged: A toilet on every high street (2022)
The Great British Public Toilet Map, Open Data Institute (2016)
The Great British Public Toilet Map, Nominet Trust (2013)
Good Toilet Commendation, Work of the Public Toilets Research Unit 2020-21Japanese Toilet Association 2021
BSI Standards Makers Award ‘Guidance on Safe Working during the COVID-19 pandemic’ (advisory panel member), 2020
Finalist (Outstanding Impact in Society), The Great British Public Toilet Map, ESRC Impact Awards 2016
Finalist (Digital Health), The Great British Public Toilet Map, AbilityNet Tech for Good Awards 2016
Runner-up, The Great British Public Toilet Map, TSO Open.Up Awards 2010
Winner, Sat-Lav, Westminster Innovate 2007
Current and recent projects
Engaged: A toilet on every high street (2021-22): Exploring the reuse of empty shops as public toilets, using a design-led approach.
Funder/Partner: LEAP, Mayor of London
Air-Control-Reimagined (2019-20): Using Creative Leadership to create a ‘Gold Standard’ Operations Control Centre for an airline focusing on people, environment and UX.
Partner: Tata Consultancy Services
Global Healthcare Index (2018-19): Developing a Global Healthcare Index to measure the future-readiness of global cities to meet healthcare challenges, Funder: WSP
Our Stockwell (2018-19): Tackling childhood obesity using a community co-design methodology for place-based design research, Funder: Hyde Foundation & Battersea Power Station Foundation
GATEway (2015-17): How the design of autonomous vehicles responds to people’s hopes and fears for a more accessible future city. Funder: InnovateUK
Workplace & Wellbeing (2015-2016): Can participation in the design of the workplace increase employee wellbeing? Partner: Gensler; Funders: Shell, RBS, Bupa, Kinnarps, Milliken
The Great British Public Toilet Map (2014, 2016): Building a national dataset for publicly accessible toilets (toiletmap.org.uk), Funder: Nominet Trust (2014), Open Data Institute (2016)
Creative Citizens (2012-2014): How can we use digital media to creatively engage people in community-led design? Funder: AHRC
Out-of-Order [Robust Accessible Toilets (2012) / Tackling Ageing Continence through Theory, Tools and Technology (2009-2012)]: How can we design better, more inclusive public toilets? Funder: ESRC, New Dynamics of Ageing
Publications, exhibitions, other outcomes
Phillips, R., Gant, N., Jordan, M., Teasley, S., Ramster, G., Gaudion, K., Spragg, K., Franklin Steward, H and Brimfield, M. (2022). Engagements as ‘HCI Material’: Propagating Community Agency, Through Embedded Technologies. Proceedings of International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction 2022. Pp 117-136.
Bichard, J and Ramster, G (2021), A mighty inconvenience: How Covid-19 tested a nation's continence Built Environment, 47 (3). pp. 402-416.
Nazerali, I., Ramster, G and Bichard, J. (2021) Publicly Accessible Toilets after Covid-19: A 2021 update to inclusive design guidance Royal College of Art, London.
Ramster, G. and Keren, C., (2020). Designing with Communities: Lesson learnt from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art, London.
Harrow, D., Gheerawo, R., Boyd Davis, S., Phillips, D., Lockton, D., Mausbach, A., Wu, J., Ramster, G., Johnson, S., Meldaikyte, G., Piliste, P., Quinlan, D. and Roberts, E. (2020), Driverless futures: Design for acceptance and adoption in urban environments Royal College of Art, London.
Ivanova, N., Gheerawo, R., Poggi, J., Gadzheva, I and Ramster, G. (2020). Towards a Gold Standard Operations Control Centre (OCC): applying Creative Leadership principles in the re-design of an OCC at a leading international airline, Design Management Proceedings 2020 (1). pp. 273-291.
Ramster, G., Greed, C. and Bichard, J., (2018). How Inclusion can Exclude: The Case of Public Toilet Provision for Women Built Environment, 44(1). pp. 52-76.
Harrow, D., Gheerawo, R., Phillips, D. and Ramster, G., (2018). Understanding how attitudes towards autonomous vehicles can shape the design of cities. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers – Municipal Engineer, 171(1). pp. 31-40.
Keren, C., Ramster, G. and Spencer, J., (2018). Tackling childhood obesity: a case for hyperlocal inclusive design with the Stockwell Estate in London, Cities: Public Health, Salus.
Myerson, J. and Ramster, G., (2017). Workplace health and wellbeing: can greater design participation provide a cure? In: Cooper, R and Tsekleves, E, (eds.) Design for Health (Design for Social Responsibility), Routledge.
Myerson, J., Ramster, G. and Thomson, A., (2017). Workplace & Wellbeing: developing a practical framework for workplace design to affect employee wellbeing, Royal College of Art, London.
Alexiou, K., Agusita, E., Alevizou, G., Chapain, C., Greene, C., Harte, D., Ramster, G. and Zamenopoulos, T., (2015). Asset mapping and civic creativity in Hargreaves, I & Hartley, J (Eds) The Creative Citizen Unbound. Policy Press.
Knight, G & Bichard, J (2011). Publicly accessible toilets: An inclusive design guide. Royal College of Art, London.
2021, Evaluator, Knowledge Exchange Concordat
2020, Advisory Group Member, BSI (British Standards)