Rama Gheerawo Appointed Director of The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design

A world leader in the field of Inclusive Design, Rama Gheerawo has been appointed Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre after almost two decades of leadership in the design industry. Gheerawo has been Deputy Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for the past five years, where he has been instrumental in building the Centre’s current reputation globally.

A graduate of Imperial College London and the RCA, Gheerawo is a designer, researcher, curator and writer who has an international presence and is known for his work within academia, industry, government and the public sector. He also leads the Centre’s External Education programme, which has trained over 200 civil servants, over 400 designers and over 100 executives from businesses such as Samsung, Hong Kong Government’s Civil Service Bureau, BlackBerry and Stannah. 

Dr Paul Thompson, Rector said, 'Rama's interest in redefining inclusive design to issues of race, gender and sexuality, and the need to bridge the digital divide deeply impressed the appointing panel. He is a superb designer, a natural communicator, and has both an instinctive and intellectual understanding of people-centred design. We are delighted by his appointment.'

As Deputy Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre, Gheerawo has led the Centre’s Age and Ability research lab, where he has created new processes that look at how inclusive design can become more business-ready and engaged with critical social issues such as population aging. He has also led the Research Associates programme, where over 180 projects have been successfully completed with over 120 organisations including Samsung, Toyota, Panasonic, B&Q, the NHS and GlaxoSmithKline. He has worked on major industry projects, including a re-design of the emergency ambulance and currently co-leads a new London taxi project with RCA Vehicle Design.

Dr Emma Wakelin, Director of Research and Innovation at the RCA, said, 'After a rigorous international selection process, Rama emerged as the outstanding candidate, and we are delighted to welcome him as the new Director of the Centre. Well-known throughout the design industry, with a genuine commitment to inclusive design, Rama will build on Jeremy Myerson's impressive work and lead the Centre in its next phase with great energy and imagination.'

The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design (HHCD) was founded in 1991. It is endowed by the Helen Hamlyn Trust with a remit to advance the study and practice of design that contributes to improving quality of life for people of all ages and abilities. The Centre employs more than 30 staff and has an annual income in excess of £1.5 million. Lady Hamlyn said, 'I am very pleased that the RCA have appointed Rama Gheerawo to succeed Professor Jeremy Myerson as Director of The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design. Rama joined the Centre 16 years ago and has during these years been a dedicated contributor to the Centre, and in recent years as Deputy Director has been responsible for many of the exciting projects developed there. I am sure the Centre will continue to develop and prosper under his leadership.'

As one of the world’s few Readers in Inclusive Design, Gheerawo is in demand as a keynote speaker, most recently presenting on the Olympics to HRH Princess Yohko of Japan and Tokyo’s Mayor. He works globally with organisations from California to China, and collaborated with the Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture to create a landmark publication Innovating with People: the Business of Inclusive Design, which has now sold to 42 countries. He reviews and guest-edits journals and sits on international conference and award committees, including his membership of the EPSRC Review College. He works on initiatives and awards with a number of other design institutions including the UK Design Council, the Hong Kong Design Centre, the UK Design Museum and Spain’s Design for All Foundation.

Rama Gheerawo said, 'I am incredibly excited to take on leadership of the Centre, building on the excellent reputation established by Jeremy Myerson. My vision is called Inclusive Design 3.0, signalling the next phase of socially inclusive practice and positioning the Centre as a lighthouse organisation in its field for years to come. I look forward to working with the RCA team to make this happen.'