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Katie Kubrak

PhD Work

Senses Speak: Harnessing the Holistic Language of Sensorial Design in Context of Circular Economy

Sensorial design is a creative process in which a product is designed with a consideration for sight, smell, touch, sound and taste. 

This approach can result in a new holistic creative output, which – in a heavily overloaded digital and visual context – could enhance end users' well-being through sensory stimulation. Furthermore, a well-founded use of materials can benefit the environmental preservation.

The proposed research aims to formulate a sensorial design theory and as an outcome create a tool for designers to design mindfully for desired sensorial responses to colours, material and finishes as well as circular economy context. Furthermore, it will introduce new ways of lowering costs, increasing profits and the overall satisfaction of all involved parties, e.g. the consumer, designer, and the producer.


  • PhD


    Materials Science Research Centre


    Materials Science Research Centre PhD, 2018–2024

  • Katie Kubrak graduated from Product Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, where she developed an interest in sensorial experience and passion for colours, materials and finishes. Since graduating she has been working as CMF Designer. In April 2018 she was a speaker at TEDx event at The Museum of London. In September 2018 she started a PhD at the Royal College of Art where she is exploring how can colours, materials and finishes be used for sensorial design in the context of circular economy.

    Her work and photography was exhibited at Clerkenwell Design Week, London Design Festival, The Dreamspace Gallery, The Brick Lane Gallery and participated in 'First Thursdays' by Whitechapel Gallery.

    Katie has worked with brands like Artemide, BASF Chemical, Burberry, Unilever, Delivery Hero, Kitchen8, Bodyform, Pandora and more. Leading Materials & Insights at Nirvana CPH she is responsible for material library, R&D, material audits, CMF inspiration, material sourcing and CMF innovation. She also organises / curates events and exhibitions for Clerkenwell Design Week (CDW) and London Design Festival (LDF).

    These include:

    • LDF 2017: London in Seven Scents, exhibition hosted at BEAST
    • CDW 2018: Tactility Speaks Paper,  exhibition in collaboration with Fedrigoni and an industry talk on Tactile Design with leading voices such as Vincent Villager (former Director of Packaging Design at Burberry), Melodie Leung (Senior Associate at Zaha Hadid Architects), Moritz Waldemeyer (Designer), Rahul Das (Furniture Designer at Made in Ratio), Mariel Brown (Director of Futures at Seymourpowell).
    • LDF 2018: A series of workshops on sustainable and sensorial design with participants from Jaguar Land Rover, Cadburry, Hotel Chocolat, Molton Brown and more.
    • LDF 2019: Sustainable Stories, exhibition hosted by GF Smith in collaboration with SharpEnd and Alistair Gibbs + a series of industry talks on topics covering sustainable: education, production, innovation and materials. Speakers included: Nick Gumery (Ethical Buyer, Lush), Carl Partt (Founder, FuturePlanet), Ashwini Deshpande (Founder, Art-Z), Richard Kirkman (Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Veolia UK & Ireland), Cameron Worth (CEO and Founder, SharpEnd), Natasha Franck (CEO and Founder, Eon), Gary Tee (Sales Director, TIPA), Julian Ellerby (Strategy Director, FranklinTill), Sian Sutherland (Co-Founder, A Plastic Planet).

  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons) Product Design, University of Arts London, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, 2015
  • Experience

  • Materials & Insights Producer/Lead, Nirvana CPH, London, 2017-present; CMF Designer, makedesignbetter studio, London, 2015-2017; CMF Designer / Material Researcher, Chris Lefteri Design Studio, 2014-2015; Lighting / CMF Designer, Artemide, Feb-Jul 2015 (project)
  • Exhibitions

  • “Sustainable Stories”, London Design Festival 2019, London, exhibition kindly hosted by G . F Smith, collaboration with SharpEnd & Alistair Gibbs Studio, project lead and curator under portfolio of work at Nirvana CPH; “Tactility Speaks Paper”, Clerkenwell Design Week 2018, London, in collaboration with Fedrigoni, project lead and curator under portfolio of work at Nirvana CPH; “London in Seven Scents”, London Design Festival 2017, London, exhibition kindly hosted by BEAST, project lead and curator under portfolio of work at Nirvana CPH; "Tocco Solare - experience sunlight indoors", Clerkenwell Design Week 2016, London; "Details", The Brick Lane Gallery, 2016, London, Photography Exhibition; "Details", The Dreamspace Gallery, 2015, London, Photography Exhibition, part of “First Thursdays” by Whitechapel Gallery
  • Conferences

  • "Senses Speak - introducing a perspective on sensorial design", TEDxUAL, University of Arts London, Museum of London, London, 2018