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The RSA has welcomed the arrival of their new co-directors of Design: Sophie Thomas and Nat Hunter.

Each brings practical and current design perspectives to the organisation and come with new skills to expand the projects team. They come with ambitions to build new research streams that utilise the resourcefulness of designers and demonstrate the effectiveness of design to help to create a better society and environment.

Sophie Thomas

 Sophie Thomas is the founding director of thomas.matthews, the award winning UK pioneers in sustainable communication design established in 1998. She has been working in the fields of communication, sustainable design and material process for over 15 years working with global businesses and UK government organisations to define the role of designers within the discussion around waste streams, resource efficiency and circular economies.

She co-founded a number of enterprises including greengaged, an organisation that aims to advance the design industry’s capacity to respond to environmental challenges through knowledge sharing. In addition to the RSA post she has recently become Director of Design for the Useful Simple Trust where her focus will be to work with designers and engineers to create trailblazing work.

She plays a vocal part in promoting sustainable thinking in design through education, working with organisations like Cape Farewell and speaking internationally and throughout the UK. She writes regularly for the design press, is an associated member of the CIWM, included in Who’s Who and sits on a number of advisory panels for sustainable design. She is a past trustee for the Design Council until 2011 and is a trustee of the Useful Simple Trust. 

Sophie studied communication design at Central Saint Martin's School of Art before completing an MA in communications at the Royal College of Art. She worked for The Body Shop design studios in 1997 before setting up thomas.matthews ltd with Kristine Matthews in 1998.

Nat HunterNat Hunter is a user experience designer and a founding director of Airside, an award winning cross-platform design agency that worked in moving image, graphic design, illustration, and digital interaction until its closure in early 2012. She has recently become a Creative Director at Tokyo Digital, an ideas agency providing digital solutions.

Nat is the co-founder, together with Sophie, of the social enterprise Three Trees Don’t Make A Forest which they set up in 2008 to inspire the design industry to conceive and produce more sustainable creative work. She is a regular contributor to the design community - lecturing in design around the world, judging awards such as D&AD, Design Week & Creative Review, writing for Grafik and Varoom, and doing workshops and lecturing at universities. She has been on the Executive Committee of D&AD since 2011.

She studied Psychology, including Human Computer Interface Psychology, at Edinburgh University, before completing an MA in Interactive Multimedia at the Royal College of Art. She designed interfaces for films and installation artists, before co-founding Airside with Alex Maclean and Fred Deakin in 1998.

They will be sharing the Director post for the Design Projects team and bring a whole new set of knowledge and skills to the RSA.

"The RSA has an incredible history of supporting design from the Student Design Awards that is now in its 88th year to the prestigious Royal Designers for Industry. We look forward to actively demonstrating the power of design as an agitator, change maker and inspirational motivator," says Sophie and Nat. 


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