Eleanor Watson

Research project: Developing semi-permanent design displays in an era of rapid climate change


This Collaborative Doctoral Award between Kingston University and the Design Museum explores the role and format of the semi-permanent design display, and how this traditional museum phenomenon can be adapted to accommodate and communicate key twenty-first century issues. The focus of the project will be on the ability of semi-permanent displays to capture the rapid changes brought about by climate change. The project will raise fundamental questions about the role of design and museums in an era of unprecedented instability while also seeking to develop a critical and theoretically informed methodology for climate conscious display. 

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: Developing semi-permanent design displays in an era of rapid climate change
  • Research supervisor: Professor Penny Sparke
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Jana Scholze


I am a curator, writer and researcher working in the fields of architecture and design, with a special interest in design and ecology. I am currently undertaking a Collaborative Doctoral Award in partnership with the Design Museum and funded by Techne. 

From 2015-2022 I worked at the Design Museum, London, where I staged a number of critically acclaimed exhibitions such as 'Football: Designing the Beautiful Game' (2022), 'Moving to Mars' (2019) and 'Peter Barber: 100 Mile City and Other Stories' (2018). My touring exhibition 'Material Tales: The Life of Things' has been presented at CAFA Museum, Beijing, Nanjing University of the Arts (2021) and Hong Kong Science Museum (2023). I was the Guest Curator of the 2019 edition of Global Grad Show in Dubai and have participated as a speaker and curator at design festivals around the world. I am the co-editor of six books and have appeared on the BBC Today programme, Sunday Brunch and Gardeners' World among others. 

I studied French and Russian at University College London and received my Masters in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute under a full scholarship from the V-A-C Foundation. 

Areas of research interest

  • Design
  • Museums
  • Ecology
  • Curating
  • Exhibitions


  • MA History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art, Scholar
  • BA Modern Languages, University College London, University of London

Funding or awards received

  • TECHNE (AHRC) PhD scholarship
  • V-A-C Foundation, Masters scholarship