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Dr. A.K. (Alice) Twemlow

History, Theory and Sociology of Graphic Design and Visual Culture
Faculty of Humanities
Capaciteitsgroep Algemene Cultuurwetenschappen
Photographer: Kirsten van Santen

Visiting address
  • Turfdraagsterpad 15
Postal address
  • Postbus 94551
    1090 GN Amsterdam
Contact details
  • Profile

    Alice Twemlow is special professor in the Wim Crouwel Chair in the History, Theory and Sociology of Graphic Design and Visual Culture. 

    Twemlow’s research, at the intersection of design history, environmental humanities, literary studies and artistic research, explores such topics as: the relationship between geological time and trash; walking, listening, salvage and repair as a concepts and methods; and the relationship between literary fiction and design. Currently she is developing research and articles about: space junk; failure in artistic research; stuttering and willed silence in literature; book design as argument; and activating urban biodiversity data.

    She has an MA and a Ph.D in the History of Design from the program run jointly by the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal College of Art in London, and her book, Sifting the Trash: A History of Design Criticism, was published by MIT Press in 2017.


    Research Groups and Reading Groups
    Co-founder and coordinator, WARP, Walking as a Research Practice Reading Group
    ARRG, Artistic Research Research Group


    Other roles
    Outside of University of Amsterdam, Alice is an associate professor at Leiden University where she supervises PhDArts candidates whose research explores, or is conducted through, art or design practice and leads research workshops with particular attention to documentation, use of writing as a research tool, and public engagement. She also helped to develop a new minor and will teach courses ‘Countering the Capitalocene: Design Activist Practices’ and ‘Visual Tactics for Research and its Dissemination’. 

    She is also research professor at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK), where her collaborative project, titled ‘Design and the Deep Future’, aims to contribute to climate and environmental justice research. At KABK she also leads two research groups and has founded numerous initiatives that seek to surface and enrich art and design research methods.

    Twemlow is a member of the Data Doulas, a collective of four female academic-practitioners whose expertise derives from environmental and health humanities, art and design history and digital methods, and from hands-on experience in curating, event organization, education and publishing. Hoping to bring alternative imaginaries to climate and environmental justice research, they are guided by an approach that seeks to transgress thresholds between academic inquiry and artistic intervention, care and critique, sensing and knowing.


  • Teaching & Supervision

    Courses offered
    Re-reading the Graphic Design Archive/Re-framing the Graphic Design Collection’, open to all Masters students, Semester 2, Block 2

    Specialization in Graphic Design, Book Studies MA (forthcoming)

    Open to supervising MA and PhD theses on topics related to design, graphic design, visual culture, history of design, design curation, design criticism, museums, collections and archives, artistic research, environmental and climate crisis issues, design-driven activism, intervention and social and political engagement, climate imaginaries, experimental writing and publishing, intersection of literature and visual culture.

    At UvA, currently co-supervising (with Christa-Maria Lherm Hayes) Stephanie Smith’s PhD research into situated art-design practices in the American Mid-West.

    At PhDArts, ACPA, Leiden University, currently supervising:
    Janice McNab, artistic research post-doc, 2019-; 

    PhD candidates:
    Alexander Cromer, ‘The Black Arctic: Recontextualizing the Middle Passage to create new, transformative spaces of healing within the entanglement of Black lives and the North Atlantic’;

    Roosje Klap, ‘POST_SIGNATURE: AI co-creation and shifting notions of authorship in contemporary graphic design practice’.


  • Selected Publishing

    Twemlow, A. (2021). Introduction, Design Noir: The Secret Life of Electronic Objects by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby. Bloomsbury Visual Arts.

    Twemlow, A. (2021). The Wool Ceiling: A Complex Case of Gender and Weaving. MacGuffin No. 9.

    Twemlow, A. (2020). Compositing the Prospects of Design Education. In Updating Values Future DesignEd 2020. Quodlibet.

    Twemlow, A. (2020). Review of Design for the Writing Mind by Natalia Ilyin. Design Issues, Vol 36, issue 2.

    Twemlow, A. (2020). Formafantasma’s Findings: Researching timber through design. Disegno The Quarterly Journal of Design, 26.

    Twemlow, A. (2019). Dodging, Dazzling and Divulging. Culture is Not Always Popular: Fifteen Years of Design Observer, MIT Press.

    Twemlow, A. (2018). Don’t Think, Discard! Dirty Furniture Journal.

    Twemlow, A. (2018). Smiley Faces: The Graphic Language of Electronic Dance Music Promotion. In Night Fever: Designing Club Culture. Vitra Design Museum.

    Twemlow, A. (2018). Victor Papanek’s Design Criticism for the Real World. In Victor Papanek: The Politics of Design. Vitra Design Museum.

    Twemlow, A. (2018). Museum with Walls: Stedelijk Base installation. Disegno The Quarterly Journal of Design, 18.

    Twemlow, A. (2017). Sifting the Trash: A History of Design Criticism.  MIT Press.

    Twemlow, A. (2016). Graphic Design Research Today, In Graphisme en France. CNAP.

    Twemlow, A. (2014). 2014 The Post-it Note and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. In G. Lees-Maffei (Ed.), Iconic Designs.

    Twemlow, A. (2013). Reflections on the Lolita Book Cover Project. In J. Bertram (Ed.), Lolita, The Story of a Cover Girl. Print Books.

    Twemlow, A. (2012). Guaranteed Communications Failure: Consensus Meets Conflict at the International Design Conference at Aspen, 1970. In M. Beck (Ed.), The Aspen Complex. Sternberg Press.

    Twemlow, A. (2009). I Can’t Talk to You If You Say That: An Ideological Collision at The International Design Conference at Aspen, 1970. Design & Culture, v. 1, issue 1.

    Twemlow, A. (2009). The Evolution of a New Televisual Language: The Sets, Title Sequences and Consumers of Ready Steady Go! 1963–1966. In C. Frayling and E. King (Eds.), Popular Design and Entertainment. Manchester University Press.

    Twemlow, A. (2007). The Decriminalization of Ornament and The List as a Visual Device and Metaphor in Graphic Design. In Looking Closer 5. Allworth Press.

  • Publications


    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    No ancillary activities