Universiteit Leiden

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Meet Alice Twemlow

Associate professor Alice Twemlow introduces a new elective which will start in September, called: Design and the Deep Future. We asked her to tell a little bit about herself and the elective she will be teaching in the first semester of the next academic year.

Making design research accessible

I am a research professor at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK) where I lead the Lectorate Design with the theme “Design and the Deep Future”, which encapsulates some of my own research interests in such topics as: geological time an design; waste and trash; matter; dematerialisation; repair and re-use; and digital detritus. More broadly speaking, my Lectorate aims to surface, nurture and promote a robust design-focused research culture within KABK and via the channels that connect KABK and Leiden University. I run Research Groups, Clubs, teach courses, and organise events and exhibitions in an effort to increase the quantity, and refine the quality, of research activity among the community of teachers, students, and workshop heads at KABK. I am particularly interested in making design research accessible as an educational resource, rendering it visible and legible within KABK as a core value and an integral component of informed making.

Associate professor

At Leiden University in the Academy for Creative and Performing Arts I am an associate professor and supervise some of the PhDArts students, whose research addresses design, and help to run the PhDArts Colloquium. As part of that role, I’m helping to organise the upcoming ACPA Conference, October 10-11, which will focus on the ways in which artistic research engages its publics.

For the past four years I've been living in Amsterdam, with my husband, son, and dog. Before that I lived in New York where I was the founding chair of the Design Research, Writing & Criticism MA at the School of Visual Arts. 

I write about all aspects of design for a range of publications, including Eye, Dirty Furniture, frieze, and Disegno. You can find a selection of my articles on my website.  My most recent book, Sifting the Trash: A History of Design Criticism, was published by MIT Press in 2017 and is based on my PhD research in the History of Design department at the Royal College of Art and Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Design and the Deep Future

I am excited to be teaching a new Design Studies elective at Leiden University this fall. The idea of the course is to interpret and evaluate design’s role in climate change, from a humanities perspective. I hope students from as many subject areas as possible will sign up, so that we can have a rich, multidisciplinary discussion about this urgent issue. We will examine a range of historical and contemporary responses by critics and designers to the conundrum of product and information overload, and explore some speculative projects that hypothesise on how product design and its criticism might be conducted more accountably in the future.

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