Idrees Rasouli

Deputy Head, Cambridge School of Art;

Associate Professor, Art & Design

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:Cambridge School of Art

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Design Education , Design Innovation , Design Research

Research Supervision:Yes

Idrees Rasouli is an award-winning designer, academic, and researcher of products, processes, and places, with a focus on disruptive market innovation. He specialises in human-connected design, design in crisis and emergency, autonomous design, and design under resource constraints to formulate the often-paradoxical decolonisation of design innovation, design research, and design education. As Associate Professor and Deputy Head of Cambridge School of Art, Idrees leads on the portfolio of Art & Design programmes and undertakes academic leadership in teaching & learning, research & innovation, recruitment, external engagement and enterprise.

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Trained at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London, Idrees has been working with all kinds of cities, organisations, and people, helping them solve issues of urbanisation in the 21st century through design, on both local and global levels. He cultivated his design leadership skills through extensive practice and collaboration with a number of world-famous architecture, design, engineering, and branding companies before founding X-Crop; with direct involvement in projects across a wide range of industries, including technology, automotive, energy, healthcare, transport, fashion, aviation, consumer goods, manufacturing, education, and construction throughout the UK, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Prior to joining ARU, Idrees taught at the Royal College of Art and spent over a decade developing and leading multiple design courses at Ravensbourne University London; building high quality academic experiences and stimulating environment for students and staff from various backgrounds at department and school levels, with a focus on combining pedagogic experimentation, creative imagination and cross-disciplinary collaboration to create the best propositions for the issues of the built environment, resulting in his students winning multiple national and international awards, bursaries and scholarships as well as being recognised by professional bodies and the industry over the period of his tenure.

Idrees’ pedagogy focuses on pioneering new methods and strategic models for partnering public and private sector organisations with academia to co-create prototypes that respond to current and future needs and has included leading design innovation collaborations and commercial-academic partnerships with Ford Motors, Transport Research Laboratory, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, Dubai Design Week, and Greater London Authority. His teaching focusses on encouraging an international and cross geo-cultural educational experience that challenges stereotypical approaches and methodologies to design practice, research, and education through connecting the ostensibly unconnected, recognising the relationship and value of the local & the global as well as the importance of experimentation and the need to innovate for purpose. He is experienced in the design and delivery of academic and creative development activities and is actively involved in academic quality assurance and enhancement as external examiner and course development advisor.

Spoken Languages

  • English
  • Hindi
  • Pashto
  • Persian/Dari
  • Urdu

Research interests

  • Human-connected Design
  • Design in Crisis & Emergency
  • Autonomous Design
  • Design Under Resource Constraints
  • Design for Social Regeneration
  • Nonlinear & Fluid Systems in Design
  • Care Systems & Future Health
  • Design Innovation & Sustainability
  • Sustainable Development & Smart Cities

Idrees actively researches through practice-based design projects. He is interested in pursuing responsible design practices and making a better world through the power of design. Idrees is currently undertaking his practice-based doctoral studies in the Department of Innovation Design Engineering, School of Design at the Royal College of Art exploring the concept of 'Decolonised Innovation' investigating the methods, principles and rules for design that are unbiased; free from the forces of globalisation and from externally imposed conventional methods and perspectives. His work examines and integrates the moment of now in approaching the construction and longevity of products, processes and places as well as their suitability for and in specific cultures and contexts.

Areas of research supervision

  • Innovation Methods
  • Cross-cultural & Transnational Design
  • Creativity & Design-thinking
  • Experimental Design
  • Social Design & Innovation
  • Sustainable Design & Production
  • Design for Health & Wellbeing
  • Design for Resilience & Change
  • Design Science & Pedagogy
  • Future Spaces & Environments
  • Urban Rehabilitation & Rebranding
  • Participatory & Community Design


  • PGCert in Teaching & Learning for Creative Courses, Ravensbourne University London
  • MA Innovation Design Engineering, Royal College of Art
  • MSc Innovation Design Engineering, Imperial College London
  • BA (Hons) Interior Design Environment Architectures, Ravensbourne University London

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Arts

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Selected recent publications

Rasouli, I., 2020. Disaster Recovery by Design. Crisis Response Journal. Vol: 15, Issue: 4, P38-39

Rasouli, I., 2020. Design for Social Regeneration After Mass Disaster: Researching Solutions for Immediate and Longer-term Needs. research report. Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation.

Rasouli, I., 2017. The Six Realities: Conservation of Architecture in the 21st Century. in: Proceeding of the UAE Modern Conference on Modern Architecture Heritage Research and Practice, 14-15 November, Dubai Design Week, Dubai.

Recent presentations and conferences

Is the Future Inclusive? (speaker), Cambridge Arts Network Conference (A Place of Creativity: creative & cultural response to a changed landscape), Cambridge, UK, 2022

Urbanisation, Cities, and Future Planning Through Design (speaker), World Humanitarian Forum (The Global Rest Dialogue: Re-Defining Humanitarism), London, UK, 2021

Design, Freedom of Speech, and Human Rights (panelist), Criminology Society, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK, 2021

Leadership Challenges and Post-COVID 19 Futures (panelist), Leadership Think Factory, The Culture Capital Exchange, London, UK, 2021

The 13 Types of Innovation Under Resource Constraints (presenter), Research Conference, Royal College of Art, London, UK, 2020

Application of United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals by Design in the Process of Recovery from Disaster (keynote), Institute for Innovative Global Education, Kansai University, Osaka, Japan, 2020

Reducing Inequalities and Increasing Social Mobility in Design and the Built Environment Education and Practice (panelist), Vestre, London, UK, 2020

Innovation in Controlled Environment Agriculture and Future of Urban Consumption (advisor), Crop Health & Protection, London, UK, 2020

Design Under Resource Constraints (presenter), Research Conference, Royal College of Art, London, UK, 2019

Current and Future Agendas for London (panelist), London Architecture School Leader’s Think Tank, New London Architecture, London, UK, 2019

Building Better, Building Beautiful: Station-led Regeneration, Mobility, and Housing in the Modern City (workshop lead), Future Cities Forum, London, UK, 2019

21st Century Design Tools and Methods (keynote), Research, Learning and Teaching Conference, Ravensbourne University London, London, UK, 2018

Conservation of Architecture in the 21st Century: The Six Realities (keynote), UAE Modern, Dubai Design Week, Dubai, UAE, 2017

Feeding Future Cities (keynote), Smarter Cities Now Conference, London, UK, 2017

Innovations for Emerging Markets (panelist), InnoFrugal Conference, Helsinki, Finland, 2017

Education x Industry (keynote), Research, Learning and Teaching Conference, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK, 2017

The Architecture of Money (keynote), The Culture Capital Exchange, London, UK, 2016

Designing for the Sea (Keynote), University of Milano Bicocca, Milan, Italy, 2014

Media experience

Idrees is regularly invited to speak at national and international conferences and events as a keynote and panellist on the subject of making cities, organisations, and people better by design — healthy, prepared, safe, and fulfilled. As the founder of X-Crop, Idrees applies human insights, advanced intelligence, and leading-edge design knowledge to find answers at local, national, and global levels by framing, predicting, and forecasting problems and opportunities concerning public and private sectors, governments, NGOs, and local authorities. He inclusively crafts circular design solutions and makes the case for bold actions with a focus on policy, equity, sustainability, and climate change to help his partners, clients, and collaborators transition into a positive future.