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About

ZARA ARSHAD

I am a curator, writer and design historian based in South Korea; specialising in twentieth- and twenty first-century design from East Asia. I have previously lived in the UK, China, Syria and Indonesia.

From 2011 to 2019, I was documenting the field of contemporary design in China on a website called Design China. I have been profiled on platforms like Forbes, Perspectives 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 College, University of London.

Before relocating to South Korea, I was part of the Design, Architecture & Digital Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, working in a curatorial team on an exhibition called The Future Starts Here. I was also a Trustee and Communications Officer for the Design History Society (DHS). Currently, I am a Research Fellow at Asia Culture Center and a Governing Board Member of China Residencies.


SPEAKING
I am often invited to speak at conferences, universities and organisations around the world; for example, I have spoken at: HEAD Geneva (2019), Beyond Change in Basel (2018), Design Museum, Helsinki (2017), Makerversity at Somerset House, London (2017) and ICDHS Taipei (2016).


TEACHING
I have taught at numerous institutions, including Central Academy of Fine Arts, Tsinghua University and Raffles Design Institute, all in Beijing, and Royal College of Art, London College of Communication, The Cass and Sotheby’s Institute in London.


AWARDS
DHS Research Travel and Conference Grant (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)