Dr Stephen Jia Wang Announced as RCA Director of the RCA–IIS Tokyo Design Lab

Dr Stephen Jia Wang, joint Head of Programme for the RCA’s Global Innovation Design (GID) and Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) MA/MSc programmes, has been appointed as RCA director of RCA–IIS Tokyo Design Lab. The Design Lab is a research collaboration between the RCA and the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Industrial Science (IIS), a world-leading research institute that covers a variety of engineering disciplines. This initiative between the two institutions promotes a new diversity of thought and culture, and provides a melting pot for the exchange of ideas.

Dr Wang commented: ‘The RCA–IIS Design Lab provides an exciting cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary environment that brings together creatives, scientists and engineers. I look forward to continuing the work of the lab towards facilitating the development of meaningful design with social impact, helping to foster a new generation of design-led innovators and exploring questions about the role of design in innovation.’

The RCA–IIS Tokyo Design Lab was established in January 2017 as a developmental meeting space between commerce and academia, providing room for design innovation, prototyping and product development. The lab mixes diverse skillsets and experiences to create a collaborative research space at the intersection of science, engineering and design. The ongoing commitment of the RCA to science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM), demonstrated by the College’s new Robotics Lab and Intelligent Mobility Design Centre, is reflected by the appointment of Dr Wang as the RCA's director for the Lab, cementing the future of the Lab as a site for world-leading design-led innovation and research.

The initial phase of the Lab brought together world-leading staff and graduates from the RCA’s School of Design with expertise in science, technology and engineering from research students and staff at the University of Tokyo. Projects developed to date include Chemical Synchronisation, a collaboration with Takeuchi Lab that involved a speculative biological wearable device influenced by the way that plants, animals and insects communicate through chemical signals; and Transparent Intent, a project in collaboration with Y Sato Lab, which used computer-vision technology to predict a future where objects can be controlled subconsciously.

Dr Wang joined the RCA in 2017 as the joint Head of Programme for GID and IDE. He is a world-renowned expert in innovative design and tangible interaction design, the director of ITIDLab.com, an Australian Research Council detailed assessor and peer reviewer for a number of journals across the fields of design and engineering. Dr Wang is the inventor of the Virtual-Spine Platform (VSP) and has intensive experience and a strong track record of industry collaboration in areas such as intelligent architectural development, smart furniture, intelligent systems for healthcare, and medical devices and solutions.

The focus of Dr Wang’s research and practice is the exploration of new design methods, technology possibilities and related curriculum development in the field of innovative design. In recent years, he has published peer-reviewed papers in journals including Material Horizons and PLOS ONE, patents, book chapters and authored academic books with Springer and Tsinghua University Press. As an experienced interaction and industrial designer, he has been involved in commercial product development, led major research projects and exhibited across Australia, China and Japan. 

Dr Wang will take up the role of RCA director of the RCA–IIS Tokyo Design Lab in addition to his position as joint Head of Programme for GID and IDE at the RCA.

Find out more about Design Research at the RCA.