Alice Rawsthorn is an award-winning design critic and the author of critically acclaimed books on design, including Hello World: Where Design Meets Life, Design as an Attitude and, most recently, Design Emergency: Building a Better Future. She is a co-founder with Paola Antonelli of the Design Emergency project to investigate design's role as a force for positive change. In all her work, Alice champions design's potential to address complex social, political and ecological challenges.
An influential public speaker and social media commentator on design, Alice has participated in important global events including TED and the annual meetings of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Her TED talk has been viewed by over a million people worldwide. One of The Big Issue's 100 Changemakers 2023 for her work on Design Emergency, she was awarded an OBE for services to design and the arts.
Born in Manchester and based in London, Alice graduated in art history from Cambridge University. She was an award-winning journalist for the Financial Times for nearly twenty years, working as a foreign correspondent in Paris and pioneering the FT's coverage of the creative industries. For over a decade, Alice was design critic of the international edition of The New York Times, writing a weekly Design column, which was syndicated to other media worldwide.
An honorary senior fellow of the Royal College of Art with an honorary doctorate from the University of the Arts, Alice is a founding member of the OECD's Future of Democracy Network, of the advisory board of the DemocracyNext research and action institute and of Writers at Liberty, a group of writers who are committed to championing human rights and freedoms as supporters of the human rights charity Liberty.
Alice has served on many cultural juries including: the Turner Prize for contemporary art; the Stirling Prize for architecture; the PEN History Book Prize; the Aga Khan Award for Architecture; the Buckminster Fuller Challenge; the Museum of the Year award; the Rome Prize for Architecture and Design; the Soane Medal for Architecture; and the BAFTA film and television awards.
A former chair of the boards of trustees of The Hepworth Wakefield museum in Yorkshire, Chisenhale Gallery in London and Michael Clark Company, the contemporary dance group, Alice was a longstanding trustee of the Whitechapel Gallery. A trustee of Arts Council England from 2006 to 2013, she is a past chair of the British Council's Design Advisory Group and a former member of the Design Council and of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Design. From 2018 to 2023, Alice was a member of the UK government's Honours Committee for Arts and Media.
As well as contributing essays to a number of books on design and contemporary culture, Alice is the author of an acclaimed biography of the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and Hello World: Where Design Meets Life, described by the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist as "panoramic in scope, passionately argued and highly addictive to read". Design as an Attitude is published globally by JRP|Ringier and Design Emergency: Building a Better Future, co-written with Paola Antonelli, by Phaidon. Alice's books have been translated into over a dozen languages.