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Curating the Future and the Future of Curating

With the third year of the Design Trust/Royal College of Art Fellowship in Design Curation underway, applications are now being accepted for the 2020–21 Fellowship

With generous support from the Design Trust, Fellows have the opportunity to undertake advanced research into the theory and practice of design curating at the RCA.

2019–20 Fellow Anne Zhou is exploring the democratisation of design, as part of her Fellowship. At a time where ‘design’ is publicised by the media as an unfailingly good cultural phenomenon, she asks how much knowledge and what vocabulary does the public have to make independent judgments of design? Can the public articulate what they want of design? Anne has asked these questions, in the context of design democracy, across four major Chinese cities in an effort to understand both how design is understood regionally and the role design skills can play in enabling people as individuals and collectively to stimulate more relevant, expanded, and diversified design intentions.

A mahogany sofa in a public space in Shenzhen. The materiality and almost a stage set up with the plants make it seems like a private living room in a public space. Am I allowed to sit on it?
A mahogany sofa in a public space in Shenzhen. The materiality and almost a stage set up with the plants make it seems like a private living room in a public space. Am I allowed to sit on it?

In previous years, Fellows have explored the role of curating in the context of public art, fashion production and consumption, AI and other emerging technologies and education. 

Sunnie Chan (Joint Fellow for 2018–19) considered the relationship between design curation and public institutions as vehicles for cultural learning. Alongside a placement at the Learning Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), she prototyped a ‘Design Curators Clinic’, which offered early-career curators, designers, architects and others who use design curating as part of their practice a ‘consultation’ with leading London-based practitioners in design curating, interpretation and exhibition design. 


Carrie Chan (Joint Fellow for 2018–19) asked how China's Internet culture is changing self-representation and expression through fashion and wearable artefacts and sought to develop a curatorial framework for discussing fashion’s social and cultural significance through a virtual and immaterial experience. Carrie contributed to a joint RCA-Microsoft exploratory project on AI and, as part of her research, co-organised a series of workshops and lectures in London and New York on emerging technologies and fashion, working with Marie-Genevieve Cyr, Assistant Professor of Fashion Design, Parsons School of Design, New York. 

Inaugural Fellow for 2017–18 Mina Song explored the potential for public art curators to employ emergent practices in design research such as fiction and adversarial design in their practice. Mina conducted research for the V&A exhibition Cars: Accelerating the Modern World, and worked with White City Place, home to the RCA’s White City campus, and with a number of RCA students and graduates to curate a site-specific exhibition that explored what she described as ‘the physicality of space and people’s mystification of space’ and its limitations.

The Fellowship addresses the burgeoning field of design curating in a global context, with a particular focus on Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area Region as the site of Fellows’ current and/or future practice. The Fellowship includes a maintenance grant of £7,500 (six-month Fellowship) or £15,000 (one-year Fellowship), with additional support available through the Fellowship to support the development of exhibitions, events or other research outcomes.


Learn more about the Design Trust/Royal College of Art Fellowship in Design Curation.

The deadline for applications for the 2020–21 Fellowship is Saturday 2 May 2019 at 23:59 (GMT).