John Fass


  • John Fass
  • Area

    School of Communication


    Visiting Lecturer

  • John Fass is a designer, researcher and lecturer. He has a background in photography, exhibition design, interaction and interface design, working freelance and for design agencies in the UK and internationally. As a researcher, his interests include computational journalism, cross-media narratives, self-measurement and the semiotics of interaction. He is in the process of completing his PhD, which is fully funded by an AHRC award. John is a fellow of the RSA and member of the Design Research Society and has presented research at national and international conferences. He has been a visiting lecturer at The Bartlett School of Architecture and Bauhaus Dessau.

    At the Royal College of Art, John organises the De-Computation elective within IED along with senior tutor Dr Brock Craft. 

  • Biography

  • John completed his BA (hons) in Photography, Film, Video and Animation at West Surrey College of Art and Design and holds an MRes with Distinction in Information Environments from the London College of Communication.

    John worked in photography for many years, shooting architecture for editorial and industry, while developing a parallel career as a museum and exhibition designer. Two years as head of design at Cobra Beer, London, led to freelance work as an interaction and interface designer in Milan, Berlin and Brussels.

    John’s Masters research focused on how digital technology mediates self-perception in the context of sleep measurement. His doctoral research continues to explore how digital artefacts affect how we understand and experience the world. This research is fully funded by an AHRC doctoral award.

  • Practice

  • John’s career in photography involved shooting architecture for international clients including Blueprint, Architectural Review, Domus, Arup, Arata Isozaki and Francesco Vezzoli. As a museum and exhibition designer John worked for the National Maritime Museum, London; Museum of Tolerance Los Angeles; @Bristol; Singapore Science Centre and Infosys Bangalore. His work in interaction and interface design has included many years of industry-client experience working for, amongst others, The Wikipedia Foundation, Universal Music, Exxon, Global eHealth Foundation and a range of Silicon Valley start-ups including Scanadu, TED and Fluxtream. John has lived and worked as a designer and art director in London, Berlin, Milan and Brussels.

    John’s work has been shown at Moderna Museet Stockholm, Bauhaus Dessau, FACT Liverpool, Transmediale Berlin and The Photographers Gallery, London. He has presented his research at international conferences, most recently NordiCHI 2012, DIS2012, CHI2013, Future of Journalism 2013 and ArtsIT 2013. Current research interests include the application of computational narrative principles to expressions of digital public space, with his most recent projects encompassing exploration of the narrative arrangement of browser history through comics, modelling personal social networks in physical form and creating multi-perspective news experiences.

  • External collaborations

  • John’s collaborative doctoral research has led to projects with The BBC, The Guardian, Unwork, The Bossons Group, Changify and FACT. He is involved with research projects at Lancaster University and Culture Lab, University of Newcastle, and collaborates internationally with Create Lab, Carnegie Mellon University and Milano Biccoca. He has extensive connections with London’s digital design industry including BERG, Made by Many, Space Around People, Edelman and Poke. 

  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Fass, J. (2014) A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Website: Telling About Browsing, proceedings, Toronto: CHI 2014

    Fass, J. (2014) Control And Freedom: Designing For Autonomy, proceedings, Toronto: CHI 2014

    Fass, J. (2014) Adaptation and Input: Defining A Living Curriculum, proceedings, Toronto: CHI 2014

    Fass, J., Walker, K. (2013) Robotic Displays Based on De-Computation, proceedings, Paris: CHI2013

    Fass, J. (2013) Stuff, Self, and Stories: Designing Digital Social Life, proceedings, Paris: CHI2013

    Fass, J. (2013) Revealing The News: How Online News Changes Without You Noticing, proceedings, Cardiff: Future of Journalism

    Fass, J., Dalton, B. (2013) ‘Essay Work and Wellbeing in Digital Public Space’, in Jeremy Myerson and Emily Gee (eds), Time and Motion: Redefining Working Life, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press

    Fass, J. (2012) Media, Database and Narrative: Navigating Digital Public Space, proceedings, iSay, Leicester University

    Fass, J. (2012) Designing For Slow Technology: Intent And Interaction, proceedings, Newcastle: DIS 2012
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  • Awards and Grants

  • Full AHRC doctoral award to support PhD as part of the Creative Exchange Partnership.

Selected work


Research interests

John’s research activity is public-facing design research into digital technologies and their effect on society. John has presented research at national and international conferences and continues to publish in relevant journals. Research includes the design of interactive systems, human-centred design and information experiences. He is currently pursuing a funded PhD as part of the AHRC Creative Exchange programme.  

Current and recent research

The News Magnifier (2012) is an interactive system that reveals the invisible editorial changes to online news articles. Outcomes include a browser plug-in and stand-alone application.

Telling About Browsing (2013) makes the argument for a narrative construction of online experience. Outcomes include the design of an interactive system.

Everybody Needs Somebody (2014) suggests a way of doing human-centred social network modelling; outcomes are methodological and encourage the use of physical artefacts for social network modelling.