BiographyCher Potter is a South African design historian and theorist. She has a current research focus on design and fashion innovation from the African continent that actively draws on local histories and knowledges of making. This serves as a point of entry into wider questions about the ways that heritage help us to imagine and shape different futures for society, how regional design practices are framed within the sub-field of global design history, and how to articulate counter-histories to the Modernist design canon. As a trained design historian (MSc Distinction, University of Oxford) and former professional trends forecaster, Cher borrows methods from the parallel fields of Design History and Futures Studies. Utilising evidence-based material analysis, archival research and oral testimony alongside trends analysis, she examines how design prototypes materialise context-specific design histories and forge emergent cultural models.
Before joining LCF, Cher led Creative Direction at WGSN Forecasting Bureau (2007-2013) where she analysed socio‐political and cultural trends in relation to fashion and design, and developed the global macro trend reports. These reports garnered a readership of over 2,150,000 people across 22 countries within the design industry. Since 2013, Cher is a Senior Research Fellow in 'Design Futures' working across LCF and the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 2015, she launched the UAL-V&A cross-continental design research network AfriDesignX (afridesignx.com), supported by the Leverhulme Trust, which brings together designers, tech innovators, curators and historians from Johannesburg, Nairobi, Dakar and Accra to study emerging design typologies in response to large-scale social and environmental change.
At LCF, Cher teaches a 10-part MA unit entitled ‘Forecasting for Design Futures’ across the Design, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Schools. This trains students to identify macro trends in contemporary design practice and theory, and to speculate on how these will shape the design industries of the future. She is co-author of the book Design and Futures (Candy S, Potter C. Tamkung University Press, 2019) which serves as the course reader. She supervises postgraduate and PhD students whose research connects forecasting, critical heritage and contemporary design.
Grants and awards
(Figures indicate amount awarded to UAL)
- Potter C. West African Voice Disguisers and Audible Ghosts: a case for expanding the fluency of global design history (2020)
- Potter C, Osseo-Asare DK, M'Rithaa M. Crafting spaces between Design and Futures: An analysis of the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (2019)
- Callus P, Potter C. Video Michezo Nairobi’s gamers and the developers that are promoting local content (2017)
- Potter C, Candy S. Design and Futures (2019)
Conference, Symposium or Workshop item
- Potter C. The potential and Problems of Global Fashion and Design Histories (2018)
- Potter C. Nairobi’s Gamers and the Developers That Are Promoting Local Content (2017)
- Potter C. A Network: Design Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa (2016)
- Potter C. ‘Digital Craft’ and African Robotics Movements (2016)
- Potter C. Forecasting Methods (2016)
- Potter C. Spotting, hunting and forecasting: The professional practice of design forecasting (2015)
- Potter C. Collecting the new: forecasting in the museum (2015)
- Breward C, Potter C, Entwistle J, ten Bhomer M, White L. How do fashion cycles and design culture interact? (2014)
Current research students
- Sonia Vega-Pérez, Trend or Movement? Theorising the Evolution of Cultural Trends (Joint supervisor)
3D design and product design
Curation and culture