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Professor Adam Thorpe

University of the Arts London
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Researcher Research
Adam  Thorpe


Adam is Professor in Socially Responsive Design at University of the Arts London. He is Creative Director of the Design Against Crime Research Centre and Director of the Bikeoff Research Initiative, which seeks to find new ways for design to reduce the incidence of cycle theft. Adam also founded and directs the Socially Responsive Design Hub, located within DACRC, which is engaged in practice-led research into the role of design in delivery of social benefit.

As Principal Investigator on the AHRC/EPSRC funded portfolio project Bikeoff 2, delivered with colleagues from both DACRC and the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science at UCL, his research was awarded the Transport for London Sustainable Transport Award in 2007 for Best Cycling Initiative and selected for a UK Research Impact Award in 2009, shortlisted in the Environmental Impact category. Cited as an exemplary project by the AHRC, Bikeoff 2 pioneered new ways of communicating and working with diverse stakeholders, dutyholders and designers bringing design theory, practice and research together in a process of ‘open’ and socially responsive research innovation.

His work for the Centre includes the generation of academic papers, publications and design resources for industry and education. Also, the creation of DAC design benchmarks , including the Karrysafe range of anti-theft bags and accessories (2001), the Puma anti-theft bike (2005) and Bikeoff anti-theft bike stands (2008). Adam has directed numerous socially responsive design research projects, many focusing on the promotion of cycling and health. His research focus is practice-led and linked to the development of models of socially responsive design innovation and knowledge transfer.

In his private design practice Adam is co-founder and designer, with Joe Hunter, of Vexed Generation and Vexed Design (1993 – current). In the early 90s Vexed pioneered the concepts of ‘urban utility’ and ‘urban mobility’ within apparel and accessory design, creating garments and products that communicate concern for society and environment whilst improving an individual’s experience of it, often linked to accommodation of multi-modal lifestyles, with a particular emphasis on getting around the city without a car.

Vexed have taken over 20 collections to market, stocking leading fashion stores worldwide, and their designs have appeared in numerous international publications and exhibitions including: Vexed Parka Triptych, Fashion Space Gallery, London (2010), Archaeology of the Future, Paris/Eindhoven (2009), Fashion V Sport, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2008/09), Skin and Bones: Parallel Practices In Fashion and Architecture, London (2008), Safe – Design Takes On Risk, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2005), and The Supermodern Wardrobe, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2003).

Amongst his consultancy roles Adam has worked with several global sports and luxury brands including Puma International (Germany) for whom he conceived and designed their ‘Urban Mobility’ collection in 2004. Current projects include creative direction of a commuter clothing collection for Transport for London (UK), apparel development with Biomega (DK), and development of performance fightwear apparel for Luta Ltd a social enterprise linked to Fight For Peace, a UK charity working in London and Rio de Janeiro to provide practical alternatives to crime and organised armed violence for children and youth in disadvantaged communities through sports and education.

Between 2006 and 2010 Adam Chaired the DIGITEX project, an EU 6th Framework research project exploring the concept of ‘digital finishing’ of textiles. The project has delivered technology that enables multiple, and localised, finishes and functionalities to be applied to textile substrates with great savings in the amount of chemicals and water used.

Grants and awards

(Figures indicate amount awarded to UAL)

  • Erasmus+, A Knowledge Alliance between HEIs, Makers and Manufacturers to boost Open Design & Open Manufacturing in Europe, £111,541.50, (2017-2020)
  • Erasmus+ - Key Action 2 - Knowledge Alliances, Open Design and Manufacturing: OD&M, €984.86, (2017-2019)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council, Disseminating 'Design Thinking for Prison Industries' through Teaching Resources, Business Models and Training for Trainers, £79,838.10, (2017-2018)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Public Collaboration Lab, £384,508.00, (2015-2016)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), FIRE.Digital: Digital Research Platform for Collaborative Fashion Innovation, £80,127.00, (2015-2015)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Design Thinking for Prison Industries: Exchanging design tools, methods and processes with prisons in London and Ahmedabad to build inmate resilience, £20,732.71, (2014-2015)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), FIREup: Fashion Innovation Research and Enterprise, £200,814.00, (2013-2014)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), UK network for design led social innovation for sustainability (DESIS - UK), £34,381.23, (2012-2013)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Bike Off 2 - Catalysing anti theft bike, bike parking and information design for the 21st century, £323,918.00, (2006-2008)

Research Outputs

Art/Design item


Book Section

Conference, Symposium or Workshop item




Current research students

  • Joana Casaca Lemos, Communication Design for Sustainability: Exploring the Role of Communication Design in Catalyzing Engagement and Participation. (Lead supervisor)
  • Rosemary Wallin, Sustainable heritage and innovation for future luxury. (Lead supervisor)