Design Researcher in Residence


Portrait Sanne Visser at Design Museum

Photocredits: Felix Speller

Sanne Visser is selected as one of the four Design Researcher in Residence at the Design Museum, as part of the new Future Observatory programme.

The DRiR is co-funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Idlewild Trust.

This years theme is Restore.

Sanne will explore hair as both a local waste stream and a material resource by working directly with a community of experts, using interdisciplinary and participatory design methods. 


“Climate change is the defining crisis of our time. As human impact continues to place pressure on our natural ecosystems and biodiversity, the future of our planet is uncertain. Deforestation, fossil fuels and intensive agriculture caused by unsustainable consumption has created food shortages, environmental degradation, and displacement across the globe.

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the structural frailties and inequalities that exist in our governance models and supply chains have been exposed. We must radically rethink the tools and systems needed to reduce consumption and protect our planet for all lifeforms now and in years to come.

As the museum's new exhibition, 'Waste Age: What can design do?', demonstrates, design plays a crucial role in helping us navigate this landscape. Innovations in material culture, manufacturing and consumer experience are proposing new systemic ways of making and consuming that are more respectful to the environment. Moreover, designers today are demonstrating the value of transforming waste into new resources, to begin the transition to a circular economy.

The focus of this year’s Future Observatory, within which this residency sits, is net zero+: not only the reduction and/or offsetting of carbon emissions, but also circularising local and national economies, reducing waste, and embedding environmental sustainability at strategic, socio-technical and product/service innovation levels.

Through Future Observatory, a new collaborative programme between the Design Museum, the Arts and the Humanities Research Council, the museum is exploring how design can enable the UK to meet its environmental targets, whether on air and water pollution, carbon footprints and waste management or biodiversity. It advocates for solutions that help to deliver Net Zero by 2050, and that go beyond to protect our communities and restore our natural world now. How can we have an inclusive transition to a greener economy?”

More about the programme to be released soon. In the meantime please visit the Design Museum’s website here.

Residents (left to right): Samuel Iliffe, Delifina Fantini von Ditmar, Thomas Aquilina, Sanne Visser

Photocredits: Felix Speller

Early progress image

Photocredits: Felix Speller

The Residents

Thomas Aquilina is an architect who is investigating the relationship between spatial justice and the climate crisis in London.

Delfina Fantini van Ditmar is a transdisciplinary designer and educator whose research explores how systems thinking can help designers produce more sustainable outcomes.

Samuel Iliffe is a design engineer who is researching the use of algae to remove harmful pollutants from freshwater bodies.

Sanne Visser is a maker and design researcher whose work looks at hair as both a local waste stream and material resource.

More information will be added as the programme continues. Follow instagram to see more work-in-progress.