Sarah Teasley

Sarah Teasley

Professor of Design / Associate Dean, Research and Innovation (Design)

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Profile photo of Sarah Tasley. Photo is a close up of Sarah's face and neck. Background is a plain beige wall. Sarah is looking straight at the camera.

Contact details

DSC | School of Design


Hybrid Futures Group


Design and Social Innovation Group


Emailsarah.teasley@rmit.edu.au


Campus: Melbourne City


Programs

More information

Profile photo of Sarah Tasley. Photo is a close up of Sarah's face and neck. Background is a plain beige wall. Sarah is looking straight at the camera.

Contact details

DSC | School of Design


Hybrid Futures Group


Design and Social Innovation Group


Emailsarah.teasley@rmit.edu.au


Campus: Melbourne City


Programs

More information

Sarah Teasley is a social historian of design, technology and making in East Asia. Her research explores new biomaterials/biotech and how power relations shape experience and ecosystems.

Overview

Sarah Teasley works across history, design research and social practice, with particular interests in the lived experience of old new biomaterials and biotechnologies in global circulation, and in how human and non-human power relations shape experience, within and as the result of design projects. Her other core research interest lies in transdisciplinary approaches and exchange between academic disciplines and between researchers and diverse industry and social communities, to enable and strengthen capacities for meaningful social and environmental change.

Her publications include Global Design History (Routledge 2011) and Designing Modern Japan (Reaktion 2022), as well as numerous book chapters and articles in journals such as Design Issues, The Journal of Design History and The Review of Japanese Society and Culture. She is a member of the Advisory Boards of Design and Culture and Design Issues, and previously served as Associate Editor of Design and Culture and Vice President of the Design Studies Forum.

At RMIT, she serves as Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in the School of Design. She teaches onto BA Industrial Design and the Masters in Design Innovation and Technology, and offers HDR supervisions in Design. Prior to joining RMIT in 2020, she was Reader in Design History and Head of Programme for History of Design at the Royal College of Art.

Web

Industry experience

Sarah Teasley has extensive experience in industry and cross-disciplinary academic partnerships with museums, charities and design researchers and practitioners, and in consultancy for museums, government and the private sector.

In 2015-2020, she led the RCA’s joint postgraduate programme in History of Design with the Victoria and Albert Museum, co-designing and delivering integrated degree and research opportunities. In 2017-2020, she served as academic lead for the Design Trust-RCA Fellowship in Design Curation, a partnership to accelerate the development of creative curatorial expertise in design and architecture in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area.

Her consultancy work as an expert in design history, particularly design in modern Japan and histories of design innovation policy and practice, includes engagement with museums (exhibitions, permanent collections and public programming), national and local governments in Japan and the UK, SMEs and major multinational corporations. She has extensive experience in design publishing and film festival programming, including working in grassroots, bottom-up community organisations.

She is a strong advocate for multidisciplinary, industry-integrated research and learning and for responsive, respectful research that facilitates individual and community agency in decision-making.

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Research

Sarah Teasley’s research explores three inter-related questions:

  1. How gender, class and power relations shape the experience of work in design, technology and making. Teasley’s publications in the gender and social history of design practice in modern Japan include Designing Modern Japan (Reaktion, 2022) as well as numerous book chapters and journal articles. She extends these questions around gender, class and power relations into contemporary practice, including collaborative participatory research in design and social innovation and public history.
  2. A material history approach to 'old new biomaterials' and 'old new biotech': how social, material, economic and environmental factors impact the perceived value and subsequent trajectories of existing and emergent biomaterials and biotechnologies, with a particular focus on tangible interactions and how narratives are told. In her research, teaching and public engagement, Teasley connects historical research into ‘old new biomaterials’ and ‘old new biotech’, particularly within forestry products and materials research in twentieth-century Japan, with experimental design-led research for sustainable multi-species futures.
  3. The potential for multidisciplinary collaboration and exchange between practice-based creative research, history, and relevant fields such as STS and environmental humanities to strengthen researchers’ capacities for meaningful research and impact, particularly in public, community practice.

In her work, Teasley attends to how stories are told and who tells them, aligning with the project to de-centre and reframe design history, history of technology, environmental history, STS and design research knowledge within Asia-Pacific regional and decolonial contexts.

Research keywords

Social history, design research, history of technology, design history, gender history, social practice, East Asia, Japan, Asia-Pacific, Asian history

Research output summary

6

Publications

16

Projects

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Supervisor interest areas

Design:

  • Critical and speculative design approaches to materials, science and technology
  • Design and innovation policy
  • Social practice

History:

  • Social history of design, industry and making
  • History of science and technology
  • History of materials
  • Social and economic history of modern East Asia
  • Experimental methods including transdisciplinary and practice-based history

Design curating

Supervisor projects

Current HDR supervisions:

  • Megan Patty, The Catalogue: Museum Publishing as Social Practice.

Recently-completed HDR supervisions:

  • Emin Artun Ozguner, 'Inheritance/Disavowal: The Relationship between Imperial and Republican State Symbolism in Turkey', 1876-1950, Victoria and Albert Museum/Royal College of Art, 2021.
  • Kevin Biderman, 'Visual surveillance and direct actions protest in the City of London', Royal College of Art, AHRC Techne PhDship, 2020.
  • Alessandra Maria Chessa, 'The Silent Revolution: Material Engagement and Knowledge behind the Technology of Paper. A Study across Italy and England (1590-1800)', Victoria and Albert Museum/Royal College of Art, AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2020.
  • Yongkeun Chun, 'Visual Representation of Colonial Modernity: Commercial Art and Advertising in Korea Under Japanese Rule (1910-1945)', Victoria and Albert Museum/Royal College of Art, Design History Society and DNP Foundation awards, 2020.
  • Catherine Guiral de Trenqualye, 'Pierre Faucheux's lines of flight: The deterritorialisation of a graphic designer', Victoria and Albert Museum/Royal College of Art, 2020.
  • Isabelle Marina Held, 'The Bombshell Assembly Line: military-industrial materials research and the syntheticisation of women's bodies in the USA, 1939 – 1976', Victoria and Albert Museum/Royal College of Art, AHRC Techne PhDship, 2020.
  • Yun Wang, 'The History of Chinese Contemporary Graphic Design in the Context of Globalization', China Scholarship Council PhDship, Victoria and Albert Museum/Royal College of Art, 2020.
  • Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, 'BETTER: Sociotechnical and Critical Imaginaries and Design and Synthetic Biology', 2018. (Artist and designer)
  • Chiara Barbieri, 'Graphic design and graphic designers in Milan, 1930s-1960s: the layout of a profession', Victoria and Albert Museum/Royal College of Art, RCA 175 Scholarship, 2017.
  • Hui-Ying Kerr, 'Envisioning the Bubble: Creating and Consuming Lifestyles through Magazines in the Japanese Bubble Economy (1986-1991)', Victoria and Albert Museum/Royal College of Art, AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2017.
  • Emily Candela, 'Materialising the Atomic: Iconography at the Interface of X-ray Crystallography and Design in Post-War Britain (1945-1965)', Victoria and Albert Museum/Royal College of Art, AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Science Museum, 2016.
  • Min-Song Jeong, 'Mechanisms of In-betweenness: through visual experiences of glass', Royal College of Art, 2014.

Other recent HDR supervisions:

  • Georgina Izzard, 'Tools, Skill and Identity: The work of British Manufacturing Jewellers, 1945-1965', AHRC LAHP PhDship, supervisory role completed in 2020.
  • Roxanne Ravenhill, 'The Importance of Being Specialist? The Impact of Component Suppliers on Metropolitan Building Practices, 1851-1930', AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Victoria and Albert Museum, supervisory role completed in 2020.
  • Lesley Richardson, 'Evolving visions of Japan: Tracing the transmission of knowledge and material culture between the national and the provincial in Britain (1860-1920)', AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Victoria and Albert Museum, supervisory role completed in 2020.

Feature publications

Designing Modern Japan

London: Reaktion

Teasley, S. (2022)

‘Methods of Reasoning and Imagination": History's Failures and Capacities in Anglophone

M. Kelly and A. Rose eds. Theories of History: History Read Across the Humanities

Teasley, S. (2022)

Design Recycle meets the Product Introduction Hall: craft, locality and agency in northern Japan

 S. Luckman and N. Hughes eds. Craft Economies: Cultural Economies of the Handmade, Bloomsbury Academic, 162-172

Teasley, S. (2018)

Key publications by year

  • Teasley, S. (2019). Contemporary Design History In: A Companion to Contemporary Design since 1945, John Wiley & Sons, United Kingdom
  • Connor, S.,Corby, T.,Nafus, D.,Hawes, H.,Smith, M.,Teasley, S. (2017). Numbers/Data: A Roundtable In: Journal of Visual Culture, 16, 355 - 385
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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.