Suzanne Martin BA (Hons), PGCPSE

Job Title:

PhD student


Highlands & Islands PG Research Students


Suzanne Martin
PhD student at the Institute of Design Innovation

Suzanne Martin


Suzanne Martin

What is the story of change in design learning, and does this narrative provide a framework for discussing the future of design learning?

Supervisors: Prof Vicky Gunn and Dr Emma Murphy

My professional background has seen me move between design disciplines, seeking new opportunities in the spaces in between existing structures. I've led innovation projects with textile industry manufacturers for Textiles Scotland, worked with architects and designers on concept development and commercial projects. I've worked as a graphic designer and photographer. I direct, produce and edit commercial promos (from fashion through to tourism) and I write programmes, development models and entrepreneurial platforms for a range of education and government agencies.

As a lecturer, over the past seven years I have developed and delivered several undergraduate, postgraduate, and outreach programmes within a number of institutions across Europe, including the National College of Art and Design
Dublin, the Royal College of Art, the Estonian Academy of Arts, Kingston University, Heriot-Watt University, the Institute of Interactive Design and the Dublin Institute of Design.

Whether in visual communication, interior design, fashion, textiles or architecture, my teaching is based on the development of research-led design processes and the design thinking that is common to all disciplines. As with my teaching, my design practice, research and pedagogical approach maximises the opportunity for connectedness that lies within the interstitial spaces between disciplines, knowledge and current platforms.

With this philosophy as the foundation, I've been able to develop innovative approaches to how design learning can be structured within modules, courses and programmes. And now, as a student at The Glasgow School of Art, I am focused on taking what I've done, further, to generate new knowledge in the field of design learning within the context of Higher Education in Scotland.

In this PhD I am researching what change, in design learning, looks like at the edge.

If we look beyond the capital cities and accepted centres of cultural and design excellence, how has change impacted on, and been enacted by, academic institutions: how have design learning structures and models evolved in response to the political, economic and cultural climate over the last decade?

Forming an understanding of how change happens, this project seeks to uncover where the potential lies during pivotal moments within that change-story. I envisage this research impacting on the development of positive change-creation narratives within design learning, something which could inform a new architecture for the future design academy. Building toward an uncertain model - one that is not top-down, city-centric, nor a reaction to stabilise or meet statistics – that has the capacity to encourage risk and to evolve in its landscape, and that proposes new ways for the design academy to grow into its future.

The research undertaken in this project aims to provide a framework of knowledge on the way that change happens, why, and what it looks like. With this material, a series of participatory design workshops with key stakeholders will put that research into play, co-creating prototypes of future design learning models.