Roger Coleman

2013.04.14 Updated


Professor Emeritus, Royal College of Art : UK

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Roger Coleman is a design activist, photographer and Professor Emeritus of the Royal College of Art, London. He is also an adviser to the Helen Hamlyn Centre, which he co-founded with Jeremy Myerson in 1999.

The Helen Hamlyn Centre builds on the internationally respected DesignAge programme, which Roger directed from its launch in 1991. In 1994 he established a European network specialising in design and ageing, and in 1995 the RCA was awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in recognition of his work.

Prior to joining the RCA in 1991 and up until 2002 he was a director of R&D companies London Innovation and Lynch Intellectual Property Ltd, which specialised in socially useful products a services. There he established a longstanding interest in the implications for design of disability and population ageing, and began working on the theory and practice of inclusive design. In 1994 he gave the first ever paper on the subject, The Case for Inclusive Design, at the International Ergonomics Association conference in Toronto and served as Professor of Inclusive Design at the Royal College of Art from 2002 until July 2008.

In 2001 he authored a UK Design Council Policy Paper Living Longer: the new context for design, making recommendations to government and industry on design responses to population ageing.

In 2003 he co-led a team from the RCA and the Universities of Cambridge and Surrey in a study commissioned by the UK Department of Health into how the effective use of design can reduce medical accidents. This led to the establishment of the Helen Hamlyn Centre's Health and Patient Safety research lab and important projects and publications on the safer design of medication packaging, the NHS emergency ambulance and hospital equipment.

In 2007 the team's resuscitation trolley won two Medical Futures awards in anaesthesia and critical care, and publications on design for patient safety won a Design Management Europe award. In 2011 the emergency ambulance was a finalist in the first Victor Papanek memorial Design for the Real World awards and in 2012 won the UK Design Museum's Design of the Year Transportation award. In 2012 a suite of new designs to improve patient safety on the ward were exhibited at the Royal College of Surgeons' Hunterian Museum, London.

In 2004/5 he played a leading role in drafting BS7000-6 (2005) on inclusive design management.

Currently he is advising the Technology Strategy Board on a major rethink of long-term care provision in the UK, and is Chair of Cambridge Open Studios, an association of over 300 artists and craftspeople based in Cambridgeshire, where he lives with his ceramicist wife, Sally Reilly.


  • 2000 – Ron Mace Universal Design Award
  • 2001 – Sir Misha Black Award for Innovation in Design Education
  • 2005 – President's Medal of the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors UK (IEHF)
  • 2005 – Vice-President of the College of Occupational Therapists
  • 2010 – William Floyd Award of the IEHF
  • 2012 – Honorary Doctorate conferred by the Catholic University of Leuven

A fuller biography and selected list of his many publications is available here.



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