Tanya Dean is a designer with special interests in sustainability issues and experimental materials.
Tanya lectures in design and craft and works professionally in design production and consultancy through her company BoBo Design Ltd., together with Nick Gant. Her research involves exploration of materials and making, especially in innovative use of unorthodox waste materials.
Tanya Dean is joint area leader for Polymers and Composites on the Design and Craft programme and co-founder of acclaimed design consultancy Studio BoBo. Described by Design Week as a 'master of material manipulation', she utilises her expertise to develop research initiatives and projects that explore, develop, test and apply new materials design innovations in a broad range of industrial and public contexts and in the promotion of charities, NGOs and exemplar 'materialists'.
Dean has instigated and executed a diverse range of multimedia projects which explore the breadth of material application, forming a wide range of outputs from highly crafted interior installations and commercial product design for use by industry and more recently promotional and awareness raising products for charities and NGOs.
Along with long term collaborator and colleague Nick Gant, Dean is using some unorthodox waste materials including dog hair, chip fat and breast milk in the formation of objects that mediate complex issues of material culture. Dean and Gant have turned their industrially developed knowledge to the creation of materials and objects that promote awareness of exemplar applications, signal future sustainable use and change behaviour and perceptions of materials in times of dwindling resources and material security. In particular this includes the promotion of companies, NGOs and charitable organisations who use and endorse materials for social and environmental benefit, including the NHS Milk Bank, Vision Aid Overseas, The Marine Conservation Society and WWF.
Previous clients, sponsors and associates include global material manufacturers like ICI, Lucite International, Perspex, Ineos and Eastman as well as individuals and branded organizations as diverse as Vivienne Westwood, Apple, The Beatles, Dyson, Absolut Vodka, Fender Guitars, Phillips, The V&A and Natural History Museums, 100% Design, PUMA and the BBC. Dean's work sits within a self-perpetuated network of creatives, researchers and companies which cross a range of disciplines and activities - motivating and facilitating the exploration of particular areas of research interest and industrial concern.
Tanya Dean's research interests stem from an intuitive and rigorous enquiry of materials and making which has led to new material innovations articulated through objects, products and spaces.
Dean was commissioned by world leading material manufacturers to explore and unearth, experiment and test, promote and apply new material attributes to a range of creative, industrial contexts. She is currently focusing on the formation of 'meaningful waste materials' so as to promote exemplar uses and 'materialists'. The research continues a 15 year long exploration strand which investigates design and craft methodologies which aim to imbue materials (in particular waste) with value(s), visual language and meaning so as to promote and provoke greater awareness and motivate engagement with material culture.
Research questions include:
Beyond technical recycling, can the processing of by-product and / or waste materials successfully contain, convey and/or enhance embodied material narratives and meaning – to promote greater understanding and use of more sustainable products?
Can objects be designed to promote user engagement with materiality (matter-reality) to facilitate greater understanding and evaluation of complex material culture?
What are the implications for material, manufacturing and design practices of 'material meanings'?
This industrial engagement presents methodological approaches / tools to generating 'meaningful waste materials'
Up-cycling ‘waste’ and ‘surplus’ materials to create an emotionally durable, sustainable product
Reconceptualising human ‘surplus’ or ‘waste’ to promote the work of the NHS and UK Breast Milk Bank
Tanya Dean is co-founder of acclaimed design consultancy BoBo Design Ltd and Area Leader for Plastics
Dean, Tanya and Gant, Nicholas (2013) Breast milk booties: an investigation into 'waste' materials and the re-evaluation of meaning through the use of the communicative cultural archetype of shoes [Artefact]
Dean, Tanya and Gant, Nicholas (2013) Sole Searching [Artefact]
Dean, Tanya and Gant, Nicholas (2012) Meaning Making [Exhibition]
Dean, Tanya and Gant, Nicholas (2011) Flip-flopsam and jetsam: a study examining the agency, values and narratives embodied in materials and artefacts [Artefact]
Dean, Tanya (2005) The Green House project The Green House project, West Sussex, UK.