Emma Gieben-Gamal


Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


I am a lecturer in Design Cultures within the School of Design at Edinburgh College of Art. Prior to this I lectured at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design and worked as a Research Fellow in the History of Art Department at The Open University on the curriculum change project, GLAADH. I also ran, for five years, my own research company providing research, curatorial and writing services for a range of clients across the cultural sector.

My research is interdisciplinary in nature and spans design, material culture studies, sociology, anthropology and the health humanities. I am particularly interested in the theoretical perspectives drawn from, and across, these disciplines that engage with an understanding of how meaning is created through the entanglements between people, places and things and how design is enmeshed within this.

Drawing from this I have had a longstanding interest in the relationship between design, identity and interior environments which initially focussed on the gendered spaces of early twentieth century sites of consumption and leisure. More recently my research has turned to more contemporary design practices around social justice and identity politics with a particular interest in disability and ageing.

My current research, which I am pursuing as a part-time AHRC/SGSAH doctoral student, is concerned with how design can improve the experience of moving into a care home and facilitate strong place-attachment and a robust sense of self through a meaningful and ongoing engagement with personal possessions. Within this I am interested in the embodied practices that entwine the material culture of home and the ways in which design methods can be used to draw these out, communicate the findings and perhaps provide a means of support for these object-oriented practices of meaning making.

Alongside this, my research engages with issues around ethics and design and seeks to explore what critical and feminist epistemologies can bring to the ‘ethical turn’ in design and the attendant shift to participatory and situated research practices. This extends to a pedagogical interest in the design curriculum and the desire to create educational opportunities for design students to practice ‘alternative’ approaches to design in ways that connect them to communities that have historically been overlooked.

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Arts, Royal College of Art / V&A

Award Date: 1 Jan 1999

Master of Arts, University of Glasgow

Award Date: 1 Jan 1996


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