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The PhD by Design team:


Alison Thomson

Alison started her doctoral studies in the Department of Design at Goldsmiths in October 2012. Her practice-based PhD explores how design-research can re-do ‘the patient experience’ considering the multiple realities of Multiple Sclerosis and its ontological politics. A core empirical part of this involves working as a Visiting Researcher with Professor Gavin Giovannoni and the Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma at the Blizard Institute, Queen Mary, University of London.

Through using performative design-led interventions, the research is uncovering the various ontologies of Multiple Sclerosis at play in the outpatient clinic at The Royal London Hospital, in the Neuroimmunology Group at the Blizard Institute and at international scientific conferences. This practice-based research hopes to expand on the potential implications for design research in studying enactments of MS through proposing alternative service interactions.

Email: a.thomson (at) gold (dot) ac (dot) uk

Twitter: @somehow_related


Maria Portugal

Maria began her postgraduate studies in the Design Department at Goldsmiths in 2012. She is pursuing practice-based research on visual production, inside and outside the Design field, and its migration and democratisation within a digital and political frame. In this context she is exploring how individual citizens can interfere and extend the production of design towards re-politicisations and political alienation during the current Portuguese financial (and social) crisis.

Maria chose to conduct her research at Goldsmiths as it offers new methodologies and critical views drawn from a range of disciplines, including the social sciences as well as visual cultures. Previous to her studies at Goldsmiths, Maria worked as a designer and completed her Masters in Urban Space at the School of Arts and Design in Oporto, Portugal. Here, she investigated contemporary approaches to experience and social participation within suburban systems. Maria continues to work as a freelance designer with academic communities and collaborative projects focusing on communication and isolation in the city of London (TTM London).

Email: dtp01mp (at) gold (dot) ac (dot) uk


Bianca Elzenbaumer

Bianca completed her doctoral degree at the Design Department at Goldsmiths in 2014 and is now working as a Research Fellow at Leeds College of Art. Her thesis ‘Designing Economic Cultures, investigates the political economy of design and explores, by way of practice-based research, the potential of peer-to-peer activities to enable structures that support the resilience of socially and politically engaged design practices.

Since 2005, Bianca has worked with Fabio Franz as the collective as ‘Brave New Alps‘. Here, they produce design projects that engage people in discussing, rethinking and intervening in social, political and environmental issues. The projects combine design research methods with radical pedagogy, conflict mediation, communication design as well as ‘DIY’ making techniques.

She currently works on the practice-led research project Precarity Pilot where she continues to investigate how the political economy of design can be transformed.

Email: bravenewalps [at] gmail [dot] com