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Burberry and RCA hire sustainable materials research chair

Burberry and the Royal College of Art (RCA) have appointed professor Sharon Baurley as chair of the Burberry Material Futures Research Group.

Working as a research professor at the RCA since 2016, Baurley’s role will see her define the research agenda for the group, and lead the commercial and practical application of the design research in collaboration with industry partners.

The group forms the first explicit STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) research initiative at an art and design university, and has been funded via a £3m award from the Burberry Foundation.

The group will seek to invent new sustainable materials, transform consumer experience and advance manufacturing to benefit the whole industry and wider community. 

The Burberry Material Futures Research Group will act as a virtual centre until it officially opens its doors in 2020 at the new RCA campus. It is a forerunner of the future RCA Materials Science Research Centre.

Baurley’s previous research has ranged from smart materials to the impact of new technologies on the future of manufacturing. During her career she has worked with Courtaulds Textiles, Gianni Versace, Marks & Spencer, Unilever, Design Intelligence and Mantero.

She has also previously held roles as head of industrial design at Zürcher Hochschule der Künste / Zürich University of the Arts (ZHdK), head of design products at the RCA and head of design in the School of Engineering & Design at Brunel University.

Commenting on her appointment Baurley said: “It’s very exciting to have the opportunity to build the Burberry Material Futures Research Group into an internationally leading centre in research and innovation in design and materials that contributes to building a future of sustainable design and production. I look forward to bringing my professorial leadership skills that can synthesise across Design and STEAM to advance the RCA’s STEAM agenda by developing researchers and students to occupy this unique cognitive space.”

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