Nicola Dillon

Research project: Material Dialogues with Difference


Material Dialogues with Difference is a research project reflecting on cultural diversity in UK craft focusing on race, otherness and making as a way of knowing and being in the world. Inspired by the question ‘who makes?' (the title of a report by the UK Crafts Council on diversity), the project attempts to explore more expansive ways of thinking about diversity in craft by bringing Blackness (in its multiplicity) into conversation with materials and the relationships we have with with them.

Grounded in an interdisciplinary and creative approach, the study engages with the politics of making through the lens of racial and material value hierarchies. The research takes place across multiple phases considering how material and embodied ways of knowing can be a means to question, navigate, and disrupt the way we engage with difference and plurality but also generative modes to imagine new approaches, frameworks and structures.

  • Research degree: Practice-based PhD
  • Title of project: Material Dialogues with Difference


I am a London born, Jamaican and Sierra Leonean designer and anthropologist based between London, UK and St. Catherine, Jamaica. I have over a decade of professional, research, and teaching experience that come together in four interconnected threads: social identity and belonging; culture and design; materials and the environment; and participatory research methodologies.

Areas of research interest

  • Craft / Design as Social Practice
  • Design Anthropology
  • Anthropology of Materials
  • Global Blackness
  • Black Material Ecologies
  • Pluriversal Design
  • Embodied Cognition
  • Race and the Environment
  • Creative Research Methodologies / Participatory Research Methodologies


  • MA Materials, Anthropology, Design, University College London
  • BA (Hons) Graphic Media Design, London College of Communication, UAL

Funding or awards received

  • 2018: London Doctoral Design Centre (Arts and Humanities Research Council)