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Neil Barron


  • Neil Barron
  • Area

    School of Design


    RAE Visiting Professor

  • Neil Barron is a senior tutor and became IDE2 programme director in 2008. He has been teaching at the Royal College of Art since finishing his research (MPhil) into drawing and industrial design in 2001. In the Innovation Design Engineering programme, Neil also directs the Disruptive Market Innovation learning strand as well as the drawing input to IDE1. Neil has run many commercial projects within the College for partners such as Ford, Unilever and Vodafone.

    Neil also runs a commercial design and innovation consultancy called Gusto Design Ltd and is involved with a wide range of clients and industries as well as a number of start-up companies at director level.

    Neil is Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in Innovation at Queen Mary, University of London.

  • Biography

  • Neil Barron is an industrial designer and innovator with a background in Aeronautics and Astronautics (Southampton University, sponsored by Rolls-Royce Aero Engines), a Master’s in Industrial Design, an MPhil from the Royal College of Art and over 20 years of design and innovation experience as well as 18 years of visiting teaching experience.

    Neil has taught at many universities and art colleges around the world including University of Cambridge, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Bath, University of Tokyo and Asia University.

    As founder of Gusto Design Ltd in 1996 Neil promotes ‘responsible creative think­ing’ – working with diverse clients including Boots, E.ON, Intel, Lego, The Body Shop and Unilever. Every project is different and Neil thrives on the challenge of creating something new, but tries to think and act responsibly regarding sustainability, cultural and social issues. Neil also generates new product and enterprise ideas, from straw furniture to wearable bicycle locks. Recently his design for an iconic, recycled-glass water carafe won the London on Tap competition. The Tap Top carafe is in cafés, bars, hotels and restaurants throughout the capital and was given to every MP and MEP. The initiative encourages the drinking of London tap water and the initial run was 20,000 units (British manufacture) with proceeds going to WaterAid.

    Neil Barron has exhibited globally and his work has been published extensively, including Design Week (front cover), TIME and The Eco Handbook. Neil has won a number of awards for his design work including a Peugeot Design Award and Homes and Gardens Classic Design Awards. Neil has also been MA external examiner at Teesside University as well as a judge for various competitions including the Deutsche Bank awards and the DBA Inclusive Design Challenge.

    From October 2010 and in addition to running Gusto Design Ltd, Neil was appointed Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Innovation at Queen Mary, University of London.

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  • Practice

  • Gusto Design Ltd is involved with the design and development of award-winning products for international markets. Their extensive experience across a number of sectors means that they can take a project from initial design brief right the way through to final production and beyond. Their core skills are a blend of art, science, engineering and innovation and they work closely with clients to deliver an aspirational vision. They are equally comfortable developing small batches of technology demonstrators for blue-chip companies (e.g. Intel) as producing mainstream commercial products produced in annual quantities of many millions (e.g. Boots). Clients include Intel, Boots, Thulé, The Body Shop, Lego, Escada, Unilever, E.ON and Cyden.

    They work with most companies at board or senior-management level on strategic innovation projects. Every project is different and they thrive on the challenge to creating something new, but think and act responsibly regarding sustainability, cultural and social issues.

    Gusto has a number of patented ideas which they have commercialised or are in the process of commercialising, as well as experimental projects with long-term potential.

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  • External collaborations

  • Neil Barron is currently Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in Innovation at Queen Mary, University of London. This role allows exposure to and insights into other academic institutions and their knowledge networks beyond the Royal College of Art and Imperial College. The position is within the School of Engineering and Materials Science and the scope extends from Design and Innovation into Medical Engineering and Nanotechnology.

    Neil has worked extensively with the UK Design Council Designing Demand Programme since its origin in 2005 and is regularly involved with the Institute of Materials and particularly but not exclusively the Materials and Design Exchange (MADE). Through MADE Neil has acted as a team leader in a number of commercial creativity workshops across a spectrum of industries, generating innovation and strategic design direction for organisations including Virgin Atlantic and the Home Office.

    Neil Barron is on the board of directors of a number of innovative start-up companies.

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Selected work


Research interests

Neil Barron’s current research interests are focused around two main areas. The first is creativity in design practice. This includes pedagogical aspects (both teaching and learning) as well as a continued interest in exploring the potential for a positive role for technology in ‘traditional’, established generative drawing (his MPhil area). The second area is design in connection with drinking water, which is also a major speciality within his design studio Gusto Design Ltd.

Research students