AboutZARA ARSHAD (SHE/HER)
I am a curator and researcher interested in twentieth- and twenty first-century material and visual culture, liminal spaces, speculative histories, and design futures. I have previously lived in South Korea, China, Syria and Indonesia.
From 2011 to 2019, I was documenting the field of contemporary design in China (and beyond) on a website called Design China. I have been profiled on platforms like Forbes, Golden Pin Design Award and Core77, and in projects such as Creative Cities (initiated by Jackson Tan and Justin Zhuang) as a key China design advocate.
While based in Beijing from 2008 to 2013, I practiced as a freelance graphic designer, with clients like United Nations Volunteers and Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center; exhibiting my work widely, including at Beijing Design Week and Affordable Art Beijing. I was also a member of the Organising Committees for Xin: Icograda World Design Congress Beijing and Beijing Design Week in 2009 and 2011, respectively.
I am a graduate of the RCA/V&A MA History of Design programme, where I studied on the ‘Asian Strand’ under Dr. Christine Guth as the 2013-2015 Friends of the V&A Scholar. My thesis, “Design Museums in Contemporary China: Localising Global Models”, was awarded a Distinction. I completed my undergraduate degree at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Before relocating to South Korea in 2019 to take up the position of Research Fellow at Asia Culture Center, I was part of the Design, Architecture & Digital Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum. I was also a Trustee and Communications Officer for the UK Design History Society (DHS).
Currently: I am a doctoral researcher based between the University of Brighton and V&A; Research Officer for University of Brighton’s Design Archives; half of the studio Geofictions with media artist Yaloo; and a Governing Board Member of China Residencies.
I am often invited to speak at conferences, universities and organisations around the world; for example, I have spoken at: Centre for Design History, University of Brighton (2021), HEAD Geneva (2019), Beyond Change in Basel (2018), Design Museum, Helsinki (2017), Makerversity at Somerset House, London (2017), Seoul National University (2016), and ICDHS Taipei (2016).
I have taught at numerous institutions, including: Central Academy of Fine Arts, Tsinghua University and Raffles Design Institute, all in Beijing; Royal College of Art, London College of Communication, London Metropolitan University and Sotheby’s Institute in London; Nottingham Trent University; University of Brighton; and Kaywon University of Art and Design.
AWARDS & GRANTS
DHS Special Projects Grant (2021)
DHS Research Travel and Conference Grant (2019)
Asia Culture Center Research Fellowship (2019)
DHS Research Travel and Conference Grant (2016)
Friends of the V&A Scholarship (2013-2015)
Basil Taylor Memorial Prize (2014)
Anthony Gardner Fund (2014)
FCO Communications Award (2011)