16 July 2015 09:10

A pioneer in teaching and researching design is to receive a top honour for innovation in design education.

Professor Rachel Cooper, OBE, Distinguished Professor of Design Management and Policy at Lancaster University is to receive the 2015 Sir Misha Black Award for Innovation in Design Education, it was announced this week.

The award was inaugurated in 1998 to recognise UK design educators who, by contributing to the theory and or practice of design education through innovation and vision, have ensured the education of UK designers has been measurably improved and the profile of design education enhanced.

Professor Cooper’s fields of research cover design management, design policy, new product development, design in the built environment, design against crime and socially responsible design.

Professor Cooper is founding director of ImaginationLancaster, an open and exploratory design-led research centre at Lancaster University. Her research activities run in tandem with her day-to-day supervision of PhD Students at Lancaster University.

Professor Cooper, the author of several design books, has undertaken several advisory roles to national and international universities, government and non-governmental organisations.

She has promoted design research through contributions to UK research councils including through her membership of the board of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council commissioning panels.

Professor Sir Christopher Frayling, representative of the College of Medallists on the Awards Committee said: “Rachel Cooper is a pioneer in teaching and researching design – within an academic environment – in ways which strongly relate to the practice of design as well as its study. 

“She has created innovative forms of design research which are timely and relevant, as well as being rigorous, and in the process she has persuaded research councils that ‘design’ is a worthy subject for serious funding.

“She has evolved and led a significant community of researchers at Lancaster, in the areas of product and service design, policy and social responsibility, and management. And she has achieved all this while retaining the confidence of the design community - often suspicious of academic research. She is a very worthy recipient of the 2015 Sir Misha Black Award for Innovation in Design Education.”

Professor Cooper said: “As a young graduate I greatly admired Sir Misha Black and the Design Research Unit. I have always been committed to interdisciplinary design practices promoted by Sir Misha.  Therefore I am deeply honoured to receive this award.”

The Award will be presented at a ceremony to be held at 4pm on Thursday, October 8th 2015 at the Royal College of Art in London.

Sir Misha Black, an industrial designer, was a founder of DRU (Design Research Unit) which became one of the first international, interdisciplinary design practices with major clients in industrial design, architecture and graphics. He was appointed the first Professor of Industrial Design at the Royal College of Art and is said to be the most influential design teacher of his time.