Univ.Prof. Alison J. Clarke PhD, MA (RCA)
BA (Hons) Design History
MA (RCA) History of Design with Distinction
PhD. (Lond.) Social Anthropology

Chair, Department Design History and Theory
Research Director Victor. J. Papanek Foundation
Editor, Home Cultures: Journal of Design, Architecture and Domestic Space


Alison J. Clarke received a Masters (RCA) with Distinction in History of Design from the Royal College of Art and Victoria and Albert Museum, London (1990). She went on to complete a PhD. in Social Anthropology under the supervision of Professor Daniel Miller, University College London (2001).

She joined the University of Applied Arts Vienna, as a full-professor in 2003 having previously held a senior faculty position in Design History and Material Culture at the Royal College of Art, London. She has supervised students of design and material culture at undergraduate and post-graduate level over a period of twenty years as a Senior Faculty member of the University of Brighton, University of Southampton and Royal College of Art, London. She has held guest-lecturing posts at Chelsea College of Art, Central St. Martins School of Art & Design, University of Arts London and acted as Guest Professor in Design History and Theory at the University of Applied Arts Vienna from 1998 - 2003.

Clarke has presented research and lectured internationally at institutions including Parsons School for Design, NYC; National Museum of American History, Washington DC; University of Oxford: University College London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Centre for Consumer Science, Sweden; and Institute of Historical Research, London.

Co-founder and Editorial Manager (with Victor Buchli, Department of Anthropology, University College London) of Home Cultures: Architecture, Design and Domestic Space (Berg: Oxford ), she is also Advisory Board member of the Journal of Consumer Culture and The Senses and Society and Editor-at-Large for online blog Material World.

She is presently engaged in several research projects including 'Doing Kinship with Pictures and Objects' (WWTF); 'The Victor Papanek Archive and Library' (BMWF); 'Home Interiors in Mass Observation' (AHRC) and Design Anthropology (Springer)  an edited volume exploring the creative merger of design and social science.

For media inquiries contact Capel & Land, London.

Professor Clarke has most recently contributed to a ground-breaking six-part television series, The Genius of Design (BBC 2010), exploring the social impact of design over the last two centuries.

Her monograph ‘Tupperware: The Promise of Plastic in 1950s America’ (2000), supported by two Smithsonian Fellowships, charts the inception and distribution of an everyday design icon. The book was optioned for a USA Emmy Award nominated film-documentary titled ‘Tupperware!’ (2004).

Clarke contributes regularly to a range of broadcasts and press in the UK (including BBC, The Guardian) and in Austria (ORF, Der Standard, Die Presse) and has previously co-presented a major television series  Home (BBC 2006) exploring the anthropology of interior design.


Design Anthropology: Object Culture in the 21st Century (Wien/New York: Springer Verlag 2010)

'The Second Hand Brand: Borrowed Goods and Liquid Assets' in Cultures of Commoditiy Branding: Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives eds. D.Wengrow and A.Bevan (Left Coast Press, forthcoming)

'The Contemporary Interior: Trajectories of Biography and Style' in Designing the Modern Interior eds. B.Martin, P. Sparke (Oxford: Berg 2009)

'Coming of Age in Suburbia; Design and Material Culture' in Designing Modern Childhoods: History, Space and the Material Culture of Children eds. Marta Gutman and Ning de Coninck-Smith (Rutgers University Press, 2008)

‘Afterword’ in Little Monsters: (De)Coupling Assemblages of Consumption eds. Helene Brembeck, Karin M. Ekström, Magnus Mörck (Lit Verlag, 2007)

‘Consuming Children, Making Mothers: Birthday Parties, Gifts and the Pursuit of Sameness’ in Horizontes Antropologicos, 28 special issue 2007

‘Making Sameness: Mothering, Commerce and the Culture of Children's Birthday Parties’ in Gender and Consumption Domestic Cultures and the Commercialisation of Everyday Life eds. L. Marten and E. Casey (Ashgate, 2007)

'Maternity and Materiality: Becoming a Mother in Consumer Culture' in Consuming Mothers eds. Linda Layne, Janelle Taylor and Danielle F. Wozniak (Rutgers University Press, 2004)

'Taste Wars and Design Dilemmas: Aesthetic Practice in the Home' in Contemporary Art in the Home ed. Colin Painter (Berg, 2002)

'Fashion and Anxiety' in Fashion Theory, vol. 6 no. 2, with Daniel Miller (2002)

'The Aesthetics of Social Aspiration' in Home Possessions: Material Culture Behind Closed Doors ed. Daniel Miller (Berg, 2001)

‘As Seen On TV: Design and Moral Economy’ in All the World and Her Husband ed. M. Andrews (Cassell, 2000)

‘Not So Brand New’ in Brand New eds. G. Williams and J. Pavitt (V&A Publications, 2001)

‘Window Shopping at Home: Classifieds, Catalogues and New Consumer Skills’ in Commercial Cultures, eds. P. Jackson, D. Miller et al. (Berg 2000)

Tupperware: The Promise of Plastic in 1950s America (Smithsonian University Press 1999)