Meet The State of Design Team

The State of Design: Research to the Power of Ten™

Meet our ten founding research partners and new research members who work across WA’s five universities: Curtin, Murdoch, UWA, ECU and Notre Dame*. With expertise spanning the wide range of design disciplines and economics, entrepreneurship and the social sciences, our research team has extensive knowledge and experience of research for, about and through design.

*New members to our network from across Australia, all committed to championing design-led innovation across sectors, are welcomed. You can read about them on this page below.

Dr Philip Ely

Founding Member

Senior Lecturer, School of Design and Built Environment
Curtin University

Philip is the cofounder of The State of Design. He is a design-led innovation researcher and practitioner with research and consultancy experience in interactive design, social entrepreneurship, design management and leadership. With a PhD in sociology, Philip has experience of design and ethnographic research methods applied to the development of innovative new products and services. He was Associate Dean and founding Head of the Business & Community School at University for the Creative Arts, UK, where he led business and community engagement applying design-led innovation to regional development, heritage and design entrepreneurship, leading a AU$1.5m knowledge transfer project across three Universities funded by the UK Government. Prior to joining academia in 2003, Philip held senior positions in the design, music and television industries leading and securing projects in excess of AU$22.3m. In 2018, Dr Ely was an Australian Research Council Excellence in Research (ERA) reviewer for Design.

Lara Pinho

Founding Member

Lecturer, School of Design
University of Western Australia

Lara Pinho is an architect who is focused on issues of sustainability and social impact. A lecturer in the UWA School of Design, Lara’s interest in social impact emerged after winning the international Open Source House Competition with Emerging Ghana, an eco-affordable housing design for the emerging middle class in Ghana. Her more recent work in sustainable and humanitarian living includes a current project, Mutable Mobile, which is critically examining design in the context of post-consumer waste. Lara has completed a number of eco-, humanitarian and indigenous dwelling projects in her capacity as both academic researcher and founder of Portugese architectural firm blannc borderless architecture and has won awards across the globe for her work. She was the co-founder of the not-for-profit Associação Adobe for Women based in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.

Associate Professor Stuart Medley

Founding Member

Coordinator of the BDes
Edith Cowan University

Stuart is a highly regarded visual communicator, with a PhD in Visual Communication from ECU. As a researcher, educator and practitioner he has expertise in deliberate communication using pictures and has published books (The Picture in Design), chapters (in Developing Citizen Designers and Illustration: Art & Theory) and journal articles (for example, in The International Journal of Visual Design, The International Journal of the Image, Studies in Comics and the Journal of Design Research. As a professional illustrator, Stuart has been commissioned by the Imperial War Museum (UK) and Berg Publishing. He is Art Director for Australian record label Hidden Shoal and Co-founder and Co-chair of the Perth Comic Arts Festival. He has recently been heading work using comics and visual prototypes for service design to improve employment and housing services.

Dr Mark Cypher

Founding Member

Academic Chair, Graphic Design
Murdoch University

Dr Mark Cypher has been teaching in the art and design fields and working with clients in both the digital, print and communication design environments for over 20 years. He has been responsible for the construction, development and teaching of several TAFE Diploma and University Bachelor Degrees and, as Principal for (a design consultancy) consults in communications design, book design, identity design and web design for cultural, not for profit, and corporate clients. Mark is also an experienced international new media artist, having exhibited in over 30 international exhibitions and is represented in several Australian state and national collections such as the National Library of Australia (Pandora archive), Art Gallery of Western Australia, ArtBank (Sydney) and Casula Powerhouse (Sydney). Mark received his PhD from the University of Western Australia in 2011.

Dr Robyn Creagh

Founding Member

Senior Lecturer, Architecture
The University of Notre Dame Australia

Dr Robyn Creagh is an applied researcher, passionate teacher and engaging facilitator. Robyn undertakes collaborative research with industry and interdisciplinary partners at the intersection of built environment design, lived experience and sense of place and leads the interdisciplinary, creative and applied research stream. Prior to this she was a Lecturer at Curtin University, teaching in Architecture and Planning. During 2014-2016 Robyn held a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Centre for Sport and Recreation Research. In 2019 her co-edited book Visual Spatial Enquiry: Diagram and Metaphors for Architects and Spatial thinkers was published in the Routledge Research in Architecture series. The book brings together architects and spatial thinkers from the arts, social sciences and humanities to present rich case studies through which to appraise and consider research approaches, methods and process within and across their fields. Robyn has served as Joint-Editor for The Architect magazine, the journal of record for the Australian Institute of Architects WA. Her most recent publications have grown out of a teaching collaboration of universities and industry partners to bring hands and place-based learning experiences to post graduate students in built environment programs nationally

Dr Christopher Kueh

Founding Member

Senior Lecturer, Course Coordinator for Master of Design and Master of Professional Design respectively
Edith Cowan University

Dr Christopher Kueh is a design educator/researcher, practicing information designer and design strategist. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Strategic Design at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia. His research and practice involve helping organisations to cultivate design abilities and to understand complexities through design.

Erica Mason

Founding Member

Associate Lecturer, Graphic Design, Design Thinking and Service Innovation
Murdoch University

Erica is an experienced lecturer in Design with a professional background in art and design. She holds a BA in Design & Visual Communication from Curtin University, and Honours in Design & Visual Communication (with a thesis entitled “From Artefact Design to Service Design Thinking Innovations) from Edith Cowan University and is currently conducting PhD research at ECU.

Erica leads service design and design thinking at Murdoch and is a founding member of The State of Design.

Shari Freeman


PhD Scholar, Curtin University

Shari is the recipient of an Australian Government scholarship exploring the efficacy of design methods for public and social sector innovation in Western Australia. In her part-time role at Deloitte Australia, Shari practices service design in the social innovation sector in the Northern Territory. With a Master of Regional Education and Community Development, Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and over ten years experience working with communities to support capacity building outcomes, Shari draws upon an established theoretical and practical knowledge base for effective design-led innovation.

Dr Fanke Peng


Discipline Lead & Senior Lecturer, University of Canberra

Fanke is a discipline lead and senior lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra. Fanke is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and in 2019 was awarded two Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Awards – University Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (team award) and University Citations for Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning (team award).

As the founder of the Cross-Cultural Design Lab, she is passionate about cross-cultural and interdisciplinary teaching and research. Her research focuses on design-led innovation and entrepreneurship, design for health and wellbeing, digital fashion communication, and service design for sustainability and social impact.

Dr Peng has worked on a range of interdisciplinary projects, supported by funding from the Australian Council for the Arts, UK research councils (AHRC, ESRC, EPSRC, TSB), the Museum of Australian Democracy, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Fund.

Recent publications include Intercultural Study of Older Chinese Immigrants’ Social Connection and Active Ageing in Australia (co-authored journal article 2021), Cross-Cultural Design for Healthy Ageing (co-edited book 2020), Service Design Thinking for Social Good (co-authored journal article 2020) and Cross-Cultural Design (co-authored book 2017).

Louis Geneste, Paul Flatau and Katie Stubley profiles coming soon…



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