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PhD supervision themes: Narratology and Semiotics; Visual Communication and Mnemonics; Design for the Ageing Population; Design for Sustainability; Design and Aesthetics for Hybrid Materials; Fashion and Textiles as Cultural Signifiers.

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4 Last updated 8 October 2020.


Dr Sonja Andrew joined the School of Art, Design and Architecture as a Senior Lecturer in July 2017 and is currently the Academic Lead for Masters Programmes in the Department of Fashion and Textiles. 

Crossing the disciplines of design, semiotics and narratology, Sonja employs the creative design process as a mode of research enquiry. Her research interests focus on semantics and communication within the creative and cultural industries, exploring multi-modal visual and tactile communication, the artefact as a signifying object within museums, galleries and alternative public spaces, and the influence of context on audience perception. Recent book chapters include 'Dichotomies in Textile Making: Employing Technology and Retaining Authenticity' in Craft Economies (2018) and 'Dichotomies in Representation and Interpretation: A Pacificist's Story' in 'WW1 Media, Entertainments and Popular Culture' (2018). Her work on semiotics, mnemonics and visual narrative, exploring authorial intention and viewer interpretation, was selected for an AHRC Image Gallery Award and publication in their commemorative book 'Beyond The Trenches: Researching the First World War' (2014). Invitations as a keynote speaker on semantics and communication include the University of Lisbon's DTEX international conference (2017) and Adidas, Germany (2016), where she also delivered workshops on memory and perception for their design teams. Information on Sonja's current research collaborations and funding (2019-2022) are available in the research section of her profile.

As Academic Lead for Masters Programmes in the Department of Fashion and Textiles, Sonja manages and develops a range of postgraduate courses in the subject area. She leads and teaches modules at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and is an experienced lead supervisor and PhD external examiner for subjects within the creative and cultural industries. Sonja has also undertaken validations for undergraduate and masters programmes in design subject areas at a number of UK universities and overseas institutions.

Research Expertise and Interests

Sonja's research enquiry also explores art-science interactions, including aesthetic interfaces to develop sustainable hybrid materials for design applications, and co-creation design for the ageing population. Her co-authored paper 'A Design Ethnography Approach to Developing Apparel Guidelines for Older Women in China' is accepted for publication in 2021. In 2019 Sonja was selected as a participating artist in the University of Leeds Cultural Institute's 'Creative Labs Biological Sciences 2nd Edition', collaborating with biophysicists to develop creative outcomes exploring historical and contemporary research practices within their field. This led to a further collaboration, embedding semiotic methods to explore the communication of contemporary biophysics research via participatory arts practices, as part of a public engagement EPSRC grant commencing Sept 2020.

Sonja is a graduate of Central Saint Martins (MA, PhD) and exhibits internationally, with designs jury selected by peer review for exhibitions in China, South Korea, Portugal, Belgium, Lithuania, Ukraine, USA and the UK. She received an excellence award for her installation 'The Ties That Bind (II)' at the Lausaunne to Beijing International Textile Biennial (China, 2016). Her commissioned work includes pieces for the United Bristol Healthcare Trust and Wells Cathedral, and her designs are featured in 'Textiles: The Art of Mankind', a global review of contemporary textile art practice. In addition to her academic post, she was Conference Director of the Textile Society, and elected member of the charity's Board of Trustees (2013-2017), convening annual international conferences and biennial research symposia related to the field.

External positions

Design Colouration Education Working Group , The Society of Dyers and Colourists


Board of Trustees, The Textile Society


Conference Director, The Textile Society


Research Expertise and Interests

  • Semantics
  • Semiotics
  • Visual Narrative
  • Mnemonics and Memory Studies
  • Multimodal communication
  • Material Culture
  • Cultural and Creative Industries
  • Communication
  • Co-design
  • Audience Study
  • Design Driven Innovation
  • Contemporary Craft Practices
  • Hybrid Materials
  • Design for Sustainability
  • Artefact Interpretation
  • Museums and Galleries
  • Participatory Arts Practice
  • Textiles, Place and Identity
  • Design for Ageing


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