Staff Profile:Dr Katherine Gillieson


In addition to research and administrative responsibilities, Katherine teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, is part 1 Year Tutor, and is active in supervising research students.

Areas of Interest:

Katherine Gillieson joined the Department as a part-time Lecturer in 2004. She also works as a designer for a range of clients and contributes regularly to popular design publications. Her research and writing is diverse and makes use of cross-disciplinary partnerships as well as her experience as a designer; she is especially interested in drawing connections between practice and theory.

One of Katherine's research interests has to do with diagrammatic representation and information design in complex systems. Her PhD examines the way that illustrations, diagrams and various forms of text interact to convey ideas on the page and over the book as a whole, and proposes a framework for describing this graphic language of 'complex texts'. The framework also serves as a basis to describe digital environments; Katherine has presented on and continues to develop the application of the schema to interactive media.

Another main theme in Katherine's research has to do with visual order and graphic language in the built environment, from micro to macro levels. Her work on the project Virtual Itineraries reflects this, examining the macro level (the graphic cityscape) through the novel use of emerging technologies and social software. The project, which received CETL (Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning) funding, aims to teach participants about signs and environmental lettering while also creating publicly-accessible databases of public lettering. Virtual Itineraries workshops have taken place in Ravensburg, Germany in 2008, in Reading as undergraduate modules since 2008, and in Manchester for the Futuresonic festival in May of 2009.

Katherine is also active in practice-based research collaborations. She contributed (as designer and participant) to the Square Zero multimedia/dance festivals in 2004 and 2005. For the second of these, she developed and moderated an online virtual workspace for participants. This network of social software sites acted as a work in itself and as a platform for the further development of performance work. The project culminated in a week long festival in August 2006. A follow-up article in Performance Research (11.2, June 2006) is an analysis and critical reflection on one of the pieces, and is co- authored with the organisers of the festival. Following on from this was another Canada Arts Council-funded project Talk Show, developed in the spring of 2007, for which Katherine was also the designer-in-residence.

Katherine also co-blogs on  The Science Project,  (, which considers issues related to science, youth and media. In terms of writing, she has have most recently contributed to two edited graphic design publications, Fully Booked (Gestalten publishers, 2008) and Phaidon Graphic Classics (Phaidon Press, upcoming).

Selected publications, research projects and consultancies:

18 extended entries for the upcoming book Phaidon Graphic Classics, Phaidon Press, London (in preparation).

2008. Virtual Itineraries: research consultant for this CETL-funded project, with Eric Kindel.

'Limits of the book: forethoughts on book design', 'The book in action', and 'The book about books', three commissioned essays in Fully Booked: cover art and design for books, eds M Hübner, K Klanten. Die Gestalten Verlag, Berlin 2008.

'The Book Abstracted', Dot Dot Dot 12, graphic design and visual culture magazine (Summer 2006).

'Start where you are: graphic ordering influences improvisational dance', Performance Research journal, 11.2 (June 2006).

'The genetics of the "open" text', Eye No 57, Vol 14 (Autumn 2005).

'Common Knowledge: Chicken Restaurants', Eye No 54, Vol 14 (Winter 2004).

2004. Pearson education: the design of undergraduate textbooks (researcher for this design audit of Pearson Education undergraduate textbooks, with Paul Luna and Linda Reynolds).

'Semantics of British culture: Towards a representation of the English breakfast as a modular system', Dot Dot Dot 8, graphic design and visual culture magazine (Summer 2004).

'On Revolutions', Dot Dot Dot 7, graphic design and visual culture magazine (Winter 2004).


Design + Writing:

Group blog on science, youth and media: The Science Project

Research groups / Centres:

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