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Research projects

Ravensbourne currently hosts a wide range of Research Projects, from the multi-partner European Horizon 2020 project WEKIT to internally funded small grants for staff.

All of them arise from our collaborative ethos and the many interests of our colleagues, who are working in varied areas across design, communication and digital creativity. 

On these pages we are showcasing both current and historic projects that demonstrate our work. 

Data Walking

Researcher: David Hunter - Associate Senior Lecturer, BA(Hons) Graphic Design, Department of Design Practice


Data Walking is a research project by David Hunter, with the aim of gathering environmental data while walking around a specific area, and through multiple walks over time build a rich picture of that area, a layered multidimensional ‘dataspace’. In this process, we get to explore the potential of data gathering while walking, and then experiment with visualising that data in a variety of ways.


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Website: www.datawalking.com

Driverless cars (GATEway 2030)

Researcher: Dr. Brigitta Zics


Winner: The winning project of GATEway 2030, Transmission Fluid by Jay Jordan


As part of an exciting collaboration between Ravensbourne, Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and Royal Borough of Greenwich, young designers showcase their visions of a re-imagined Greenwich Peninsula with the introduction of driverless cars. Ravensbourne continue in a longstanding reputation of nurturing design talent by inviting students to take inspiration from the TRL-led GATEway project to propose their own model of driverless vehicle. GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) is an £8 million funded research project based in Greenwich with the aim of helping industry and policymakers to understand the implications of automated vehicles in the urban environment.


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Wearable: OurOwnsKIN

Researcher:Liz Ciokajlo,  Lecturer BA (Hons) Product Design


OurOwnsKIN is a project which explores referencing human foot skin to rethink how we design for future manufactured 3D printed and grown shoes.


Historically, footwear design construction has evolved from the manipulation of the material leather, which is the skin of another animal. Manufacturing machines have evolved to automise how we hand manipulated leather materials to make shoes. As new materials such as polymers were introduced the residue of leather constructions influenced footwear design constructions.


However we are into new territories, where 3D print can construct features so fine the line between materials structure and design construction starts to blur. The project investigates if it is now useful to rethink what we reference when designing footwear. Asking the question, if we designed footwear for the first time today using all materials and technologies available whose skin would we reference as a starting point, as a system from which develop aesthetic design. We see this approach may be useful as we move to futures where we could grown materials such as leather.


Research was undertaken into the tension structures of foot skin to inspire a computation framework. Springy cells call auxetics were placed into the computation framework to address how the material and design construction can provide finer variations in fit needed in mass production. Our research only scratches the surface of the potential to customise the structure for bespoke performance application.


The dynamic research community at Ravensbourne bravely funded the initial medical desk research and the translation of this research into computation. MV works program (funded by Knowledge Transfer Network, Innovate UK and the Arts Council) funded prototyping and early computation development. Innovate UK has funded further technical and research into how best to model a sustainable design consultancy offering services of design research and services translating materials for body apparel. 


Our consultancy is called the same name as the project, OurOwnsKIN. The co directors of the consultancy are artist Rhian Solomon whose practice explores skin as a meeting point for collaborative practices between medical specialist and designers, and footwear/ 3D concept development designer Liz Ciokajlo whose focus is on materials, emerging processes and design construction. Designer Manolis Papastavrou was a leading consultant on computation and design on the project. Tom Mallinson of Digits2Wigits and designer Jason Taylor contributed to design development while working on computation files during Innovate UK funding.


We are currently working on a research projects with Kings College London and a commission from the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). We are publicly launching OurOwnsKIN during London Design Festival 2017.


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Website: OurOwnsKIN 


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Ubiquitous Wearing

Researchers: Alexa Pollman, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Fashion Accessory Design and Textile Futures 

Sabine Roth, Sessional Lecturer 


Ubiquitous Wearing is one of our long term ongoing projects. Triggered by the MARPAT, a pixelated camouflage pattern used by many armed forces, we grew curious to understand the impact that virtual environments will have on our garments and the way that we will make them perform for machines rather then for humans.

We researched and analysed the look, materials and functions of camouflage patterns before we designed four alternative patterns that would not only incorporate a disguising function for enhanced vision systems such as thermo- and nightvision but would reflect on the surroundings and the landscape that influences their pattern: while the well-known woodland pattern takes its inspiration from the bark of a tree, we referenced the surveilling view of a drone using arial images as a starting point.

Each of our developed patterns reacts to a different vision system, and lastly brought us to question whether our aesthetic understanding of the world around us will soon be including factors such as temperature and motion as ingredients for design – enhancing not only our vision but the commonly used properties of colour, material and shape.

In a first iteration, we collated research and pattern-developments in form of a broadsheet publication, while the prints we developed have formed into distinct but still historically referencing materials, but will only come to full expression when viewed with a distinct imaging system:

As we are working on this project, we discover more and more intriguing factors and develop not only the reactive materials further but understand more about the overall impact of the virtual on the everyday and the human perception of others, the self and the machine as a system that will change basic human experiences and evolutions of our surroundings.

Hence we have decided to stage the project as a participatory performance that will turn its audience in ‘Surveillor’ or ‘Surveilled’ and will engage with a rather playful though meaningful inquiry: how will human-machine interaction change our perception of the self and the body? Will we start to disguise or will we dress up for machines?


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InformForm platform

Researchers: Maaike van Neck, Ravensbourne, Course Leader, BA (Hons) Graphic Design 


InformForm is an international platform for information design. 

InformForm celebrates and explores both practical and theoretical experimentation within the field of design. It prides itself on showcasing relevant examples of work by students, for students.


Film: 'Limit of the Land'

Researchers: Matthew Pritchard, Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Digital Photography

Julian Hawkins, Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Digital Photography


A short film project by Matthew Pritchard, Julian Hawkins, Chris Frazer-Smith, Celine Marchbank, Greg Loftin and Mark Durham in collaboration with Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) and supported by Ravensbourne research.


‘Limit of the Land’ is a short film set in 1913 about the loss of agency in the face of monumental change. In that regard, it draws parallels between the turning page of history, just prior to The Great War, and our own moment of political volatility. The film, set around an isolated lighthouse, centres on a young man’s search for his father. Hope is borne away by a gathering storm, but the weather brings an unexpected visitor and a chance for redemption.


Photo Credit:
Lighthouse kitchen by Chris Frazer Smith


The film is a collaboration between Ravensbourne researchers, academics from Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) and industry partners including Leica, Locate productions and Smoke and Mirrors. A film conceived by photographers, 'Limit of the Land' is suffused with long held tableau shots, containing minimal clues to a moving image (smoke from a pipe, a strip of moving water). The film’s grammar is accented to the frame rather than to the cut. In this way, we seek to add to the complex ongoing dialectic between photography and film, experiencing the hesitation of the protagonist, the scale of the landscape being covered and the composition of movement through the frame.


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