Katherine Ladd is a designer, writer and cultural historian.
Her interests are informed by many years’ experience as a product designer, her subsequent MA in Design History and PhD in Design at the University of Brighton, UK, funded by an AHRC Doctoral Award.
The doctoral research, blending ethnographic methodologies with analyses of contemporary design practice, involved fieldwork in remote parts of West Africa where she observed a newly-established craft development charity as it attempted to produce a range of contemporary woven textiles for a western, ‘deeper luxury’ market.
Between 2007 and 2013 Katherine taught contextual studies to Design students, focusing on the implications of new technologies, contemporary craft and cross-disciplinary practice. She is a member of the Design Research Society.
PhD Design. University of Brighton, 2012. AHRC funded.
MA History of Design, University of Brighton, 2006. Distinction.
Creative Director, Gecko Designs, Brighton, UK. 1997-2006
Co-‐founder of award-‐winning product design company. Specializing in architectural lighting installations for architects such as Wilkinson Eyre and for clients such as Sheraton, Diageo, Pret a Manger. Developed a highly successful commercial range of hand-‐spun glassfibre lamps and chandeliers which sold at high-‐end outlets including New York and London (eg. Conran, Heal’s, Purves & Purves) with agents in Europe, West Coast USA, Singapore and Australia. Exhibited in Paris, London, New York and Frankfurt several times each year. Also developed digitally printed textiles range of silk cushions for Selfridges, London. Invited by UKTI to represent British Design at the Museum of Modern Art in Prague in 2003.
2002 Lighting Show. NEC Birmingham. Runner up, Blueprint Lighting Awards.
2003 Lightscapes: The Best of British Lighting Design. Curated exhibition fully funded by UKTI, MOMA Prague.
2003 Popperlight installation. Exhibition of modular globe lighting produced by Gecko Designs. LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL: DesignersBlock, London.
2004 Gecko Designs at Now! Design a Vivre. Exhibition at MAISON ET OBJET, Paris. Winner, Architects’ Prize.
2004 Gecko Designs textile collection. LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL: 100% Design, Earls Court 2, London.
2008 Coton et Art. Exhibition funded by Shell Foundation. MUSÉE NATIONALE DE BURKINA, Burkina Faso, West Africa.
2009 Projet de Tissage. Exhibition of traditional weaving techniques. MUSÉE NATIONALE DE BURKINA, Burkina Faso, West Africa.
2011 Bamako Collection. Textiles and toys. ICFF, Javits Convention Center, New York.
PAPERS + RESEARCH:
2010 Ladd, K. “My skill is exhausted: issues of authenticity and sustainable development in the revival of West African strip weaving.” Making Futures Vol 1 (2010): 48-55
2013 Ladd, K. “Africa, Meet Africa: concoctions of identity in West African textiles.” Non-Western Fashion Conference, London College of Fashion, November 21-22 2013
2013 Ladd, K. “Hand Made With Love.” Paper presented at Bridging the Divide symposium. UAL Central Saint Martin’s, London.
2015 Ladd, K. Hand Made With Love: Africa’s artisans and the quest for authenticity. London: Artifact Books.