Born and raised in Scotland, I studied design at the Glasgow School of Art and have been a practising designer for over 15 years in the UK, Italy and the Netherlands.
From 2015 to 2023 I was a designer at the Helix Centre and the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, where I was Lead for End-of-Life Care. I lead the development of innovation projects that are used across the NHS including ReSPECT and Palliate, and co-founded their first spin-out, Digital Care Planning in 2017 with Matt Harrison. In 2018, I was named a ‘New Radical’ by Nesta and the Observer newspaper for ‘pioneering a human-centric approach to the experience of dying, bereavement and grief”.
In 2015, I co-founded the tech-for-good mental health start-up Humane Engineering with Alex Rothera. Our first product Cove, was one of the first apps evaluated and approved by the NHS for its app library, which launched in 2017. It remains one of the most popular mental health apps available on the NHS. My ventures have been backed by Bethnal Green Ventures, NHS England and SBRI Healthcare.
Prior to that, I founded the research and design consultancy group Being and Dying, one of the first design studios dedicated to re-designing the death and dying experience. From 2014 to 2020, the studio created products, prototypes and provocations that helped to embed design as an integral part of modern death.
In 2013, I joined Fabrica - the research design centre in Treviso, Italy - under the leadership of Dan Hill, as a studio director leading experimental design projects exploring death and dying.
But I wasn’t always designing for death. In fact, I began my career working on videogames at Rockstar North working on Grand Theft Auto and another games, before becoming a designer. After graduating in 2007, I worked as a graphic designer with British design studios such as John Morgan studio, Graphic Thought Facility, Browns and Burberry. I designed brand identities, exhibitions, books and catalogues for commercial clients, corporate organisations and national governments. For my work I received a number of awards from D&AD, Graphis and Core77. One of my books was nominated for the Most Beautiful Swiss Books award in 2009.
I am still commissioned to design the occasional book. The last was a monograph for Scottish artist Jim Lambie in 2017 for Rizzoli. I am currently designing a book about italian architect, Ernesto Rogers for MIT Press which will be published in late-2024.
As a long-time educator, I find it is very important to challenge your practice in the studio and lecture theatre. I am currently Visiting Lecturer on the Healthcare and Design MSc at Imperial College London. I was Visiting Professor of Information Design at the Università Iuav di Venezia from 2014–2016, and I’ve held teaching positions at Design Academy Eindhoven and the Glasgow School of Art. I have taught at numerous design and architecture schools around the world.
Along with a number of published papers, I am also co-author of a number of key reports including The children’s palliative care provider of the future: A blueprint to spark scale and share innovation and This Too Shall Pass: Collective mourning in the age of Covid-19. I continue to write regularly through my own Substack.
I speak regularly around the world and have presented keynotes at End Well, IxDA in the US; Human Understanding Design Centre in South Korea; DesignTO Festival in Canada; Domus Academy, Accademia delle Scienze di Medicina Palliativa, ISIA Urbino in Italy; the Festival of Curiosity and DotMed in Ireland; Graphic Design Festival Breda and Dutch Design Week in The Netherlands; European Health Care Design conference, the Royal Society of Medicine in the UK and presented at the Scottish and European Parliaments.
What I’m doing now
I’m the founder of Mortals, an online community and group programme that is centred around awakening to life.
I have completed my initial training as an end-of-life doula, and provide support to people and families, in association with End of Life Doula UK.
In late 2023, I joined the design leadership team at Accurx, to design systems that make NHS professionals happier and patients healthier.
I continue my end-of-life care research and innovation work as Honorary Practice Fellow at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London.
Lastly, I am also an advisor for Zinc VC, and also advise a number of start-ups, charities and organisations.