Jonathan Chapman

Jonathan Chapman

Professor, Director of Doctoral Studies

Jonathan Chapman is Professor and Director of Doctoral Studies at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design.

Professor Chapman leads the PhD in Transition Design—a doctoral program that develops future design leaders with the capacity to envision and realize systems-level change, over long horizons of time. He also teaches at undergraduate and masters levels, building the skills, literacies and mindsets required by designers to confront 21st-century global challenges. 

Chapman’s research and consultancy tackle our throwaway society by developing design strategies for longer-lasting materials, products, systems and experiences—an approach he defines as, "emotionally durable design". He first established this theory in his monograph, Emotionally Durable Design: Objects, Experiences & Empathy (Routledge, 2005; 2015) which has been widely adopted by educators, researchers, designers and businesses, worldwide.

He is author of several books advocating new forms of sustainable design at the levels of materials, products, environments and systems. These include, Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Product Design (Routledge, 2017), and Designers, Visionaries & Other Stories (Earthscan 2007). Chapman is currently working on his latest book, Meaningful Stuff: Design that Lasts (MIT Press, forthcoming 2019), which will uncover why users discard products that still work, and show how designers can create products we keep for longer.

Professor Chapman develops his design research in partnership with global businesses (e.g. Philips, Puma, H&M, SONY, The Body Shop, COS), policy makers (e.g. House of Lords, House of Commons, United Nations) and non-profit organizations (e.g. Forum for the Future, Design Museum, UK Design Council, Marine Conservation Society). He has collaborated with over 100 global businesses, helping them transition to more socially and ecologically relevant products, technologies and systems. 

The House of Lords (UK) called upon him as an expert witness to inform their Enquiry into Waste Reduction (2008). Presented at Westminster, his oral and written report was later discussed in the House of Commons (2008–09), and led to subsequent invitations to advise the United Nations (2014–15) in relation to their Sustainable Development Goals (2015). The core of Chapman’s government report featured new and original findings from his PhD research, which he successfully completed 6-months later.

His work in sustainable design has generated international media attention from publications such as: The New York Times, The Guardian, The Independent, CNN International and BBC Radio 4. The New Scientist described him as a "mover and shaker" and a "new breed of sustainable design thinker".  

Chapman is an experienced doctoral advisor, and examiner, having examined PhDs at world-leading universities, including: The Royal College of Art (UK); TU Delft (The Netherlands); University of the Arts London (UK); KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden); and, Cambridge University (UK). His own doctoral students—many of whom are industry, or government, funded—work across product design, interaction design, communication design and sustainable design.

He has delivered over 50 keynote lectures at International conferences, and taught at many of the world’s leading Design Schools. He recently delivered a keynote at the 10th International Conference on Design & Emotion (27-30 September, 2016), having been named a Global Thought Leader by the Society. He holds a PhD in Sustainable Design (University of Brighton), MA Design Futures (Goldsmiths: University of London) and BA(Hons) Product Design (Leeds Metropolitan University).

He is a member of several juries, committees and advisory boards, and a regular reviewer for many leading academic journals (e.g. Design Issues, Design Studies), international publishers (e.g. MIT Press, Routledge, Berg, Bloomsbury) and Research Councils (e.g. AHRC, ESRC, EPSRC). He was Co-Chair of the 2016 Design Research Society Conference (27-30 June). He also sits on a number of industrial, and governmental, Advisory Boards. 

Prior to joining CMU, Chapman was Professor of Sustainable Design and Director of Design Research at the University of Brighton (UK). At just 38, he was the youngest person in the university’s history to be made a Professor. In 2009, he established their acclaimed Sustainable Design MA, which he led as Course Director until 2016. He has also held academic posts at Kingston University, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology and the Royal College of Art, where he has been a Visiting Tutor for several years.