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13 Last updated 9 August 2022

734 Google Scholar Citations


The emergent interface between art, design and architecture continues to be the issue driving the majority of Professor Alex Coles’ research. In 2018/2019 this dynamic was explored through essays commissioned by the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Galerie Kreo, Paris, and keynote conference papers at Nova Iskra, Belgrade, and the University of the Arts, London.

The multiple-volume book series The Transdisciplinary Studio explores this dynamic in depth. For Volume 1 Professor Coles spent extended periods conducting embedded research in the studios of Olafur Eliasson, Jorge Pardo, Konstantin Grcic and Åbäke. A Japanese edition of the volume will be published in 2020. Volume 2 is currently at the pre-production stage.

The publication series EP founded by Professor Coles pursues the transdisciplinary at an editorial level by being the first critically underpinned series of publications that fluidly moves between art, design, and architecture. The series creates a discursive platform between popular magazines (“single play”) and academic journals (“long play”) by introducing the notion of the “extended play” into publishing: with thematically edited pocket books as median. EP1 ‘The Italian Avant-Garde: 1968-1976’ was released in 2013 and received strong reviews in the mainstream press (New York Times, Times Literary Supplement), specialist arts press (Domus, Icon) and academic journals (Journal of Design History, Design and Culture). EP2 ‘Design Fiction’ was published in 2016, and EP3 ‘Post-Craft’ is to be released in 2019.

EP1 received strong reviews, with the New York Times design critic commenting that: “Edited by the design historians Catharine Rossi and Alex Coles, [EP1] is the first in a planned series of books exploring links among design, art and architecture…. “The Italian Avant Garde” … reminds us of the movement’s prescience in championing design’s social and ecological responsibilities, the importance of collaboration and self-expression, and other burning issues for designers today.” The Times Literary Supplement book critic underlined how: “The images and the range of the work presented [in EP1] are fascinating and stimulating, and provide a strong basis for future editions of this enterprising journal-book series.”

Research Expertise and Interests

Coles’ investigation into the dynamic relationship between disciplines in the arts commenced with the book DesignArt released by Tate Publishing in 2005. This was followed by the critical anthology Design and Art (MIT Press/Whitechapel, 2007). Both books triggered exhibitions and conferences on the subject of “designart,” with Coles being widely acknowledged as leading research into this new field. The catalogues and published proceedings from these exhibitions and conferences all heavily cite the author and led to designart becoming a growing area of the production and consumption of design. Extending this influence,‘DesignArt’ (Tate Publishing, 2005) was translated into Japanese in 2009 and ‘Design and Art’ (MIT/Whitechapel, 2007) into Korean by Workroom Press in 2013. 

Research Degree Supervision

I am interested in supervising PhDs on topics and themes related to:

  • The interface between design and art
  • Artists and designers studios
  • The Transdisciplinary
  • Styling and art directing
  • Design Fiction 

International Partnerships include:

  • Design Academy Eindhoven
  • Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein
  • Sternberg Press, Berlin
  • Jan Van Eyck Academy, Maastricht
  • Tate Modern, London

Research Expertise and Interests

  • Dynamic Inter-Disciplinary Relationship
  • Art
  • Design
  • Architecture
  • Transdisciplinary


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  • Dissident Designs and Ethnographic Surrealisms

    Coles, A., 31 Oct 2019, Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today. Kries, M. & Cunz, T. (eds.). Vitra Design Museum, p. 332-345 14 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

  • Galerie Kreo: A New System for Design

    Coles, A., 27 Nov 2019, The Design Lab: Galerie Kreo. Dirié, C. (ed.). Flammarion, p. 308-309 2 p. (Collective: Styles and Design - English Language).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

  • Darwenism

    Coles, A., Arthur, N. & Lindley, J., 20 Apr 2018, Distributed. Blamey, D. & Haylock, B. (eds.). London: Open Editions, p. 102-109 8 p. (Occasional Table).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingOther chapter contributionpeer-review

  • Post-Craft

    Coles, A. (ed.) & Rossi, C., 2018, (Accepted/In press) Berlin: Sternberg Press. 176 p. (EP; vol. 3)

    Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

  • Andrea Zittel interviewed by Alex Coles: A-Z

    Coles, A., 1 Jan 2017, Talking Art 2: Art Monthly Interviews with Artists Since 2007. Bickers, P. (ed.). Ridinghouse, Vol. 2. p. 386-393 8 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review