Architecture Design Fashion

British Council

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Team

Sarah Mann

Sarah Mann

Director

Sarah Mann became Director of the Architecture Design Fashion in April 2016. She joined the British Council from the National Trust, where she has been developing a strand of contemporary programming for a portfolio of historic properties.

Previously, Sarah was Programme Manager for the British Council on Connect ZA, a three-year season of arts projects focused on building connections between emerging creative industries in the UK and South Africa. She commissioned projects including the Maker Library Network with Daniel Charny as part of Cape Town's World Design Capital and Joburg Photo Umbrella with Brighton Photo Biennial and the Market Photo Workshop.

Between 2008 and 2012, Sarah was part of the curatorial team and Head of Learning and Participation at Somerset House, where she worked on a ground-breaking series of exhibitions and public programmes including SHOWstudio: Fashion Revolution, Pick Me Up: Graphic Arts Fair, Maison Margiela 20 and Tim Walker: Storyteller. Sarah has an MA in Curating Contemporary Design from Kingston University and the Design Museum.

To contact Sarah, email: sarah(dot)mann(at)britishcouncil(dot)org

João Guarantani

João Guarantani

Senior Programme Manager

João joined the ADF team at the beginning of 2014, advising on Design projects globally and running programmes across Architecture, Design and Fashion in the Americas. João has previously led on ADF projects in East Asia, and manages key programmes including the Lina Bo Bardi Fellowship and Design Connections, and oversees ADF's Residencies and Fellowships

Since studying for his Graphic Design degree at Central St Martins, João has fostered an interest in the history of design, visual culture and cultural identity. In 2010 João received an MA in Cultural & Critical Studies from Birkbeck College, University of London, where he carried out research in a range of fields, including Exhibiting Cultures and Aesthetics & Cultural Theory. At the end of 2012, João joined the British Council Arts team in Brazil, where he delivered the Visual Arts and Museums strands of Transform, a four-year culture and creativity platform for exchange between Brazil and the UK.

From 2007 to 2012, João was Curator and Project Manager at Gallery 32, where he led the programme of exhibitions, screenings and talks. Gallery 32's main aim is to promote Brazilian visual culture, with a focus on modern and contemporary art, architecture and design. João has curated a number of design exhibitions, including Brazil Illustrated, and recently commissioned major ADF projects for UKMX, the year of cultural exchange between Mexico and the UK, including the UK Pavilion at Guadalajara Bookfair and Ways of Seeing, an installation by Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan. 

To contact João, email: joao(dot)guarantani(at)britishcouncil(dot)org

Gian Luca Amadei

Gian Luca Amadei

Programme Manager, Design

Gian Luca's primary interest is in design, its history, material innovation and the relationship between technology and industry. In 2013, Luca joined the ADF team as Programme Manager and has since been working on the development of design expertise across his designated regions, Wider Europe and Africa.

Last year, Gian Luca completed his PhD at Kent University. Extracts of his thesis, The Evolving Paradigm of Victorian Necropolises: Its Origins and Contributions to London’s Plan from the Early Nineteenth-century to Modernity, have been presented at conferences in the UK and abroad. Prior to this, he received a degree in interior design and later an MSc in Architecture History and Theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

His curiosity for design process deepened when he struck up a collaboration with Blueprint magazine in 2007, first as European Correspondent and then as Products Editor. Gian Luca consolidated this experience as author of Discovering Women in Polish Design: Interviews & Conversations (Adam Mickiewicz Institute, 2009). An advocate of life-long learning, he also tutors on the BA Architecture course at the University of Kent.

To contact Gian Luca, email: gianluca(dot)amadei(at)britishcouncil(dot)org

Alastair Donald

Alastair Donald

Programme Manager, Architecture

Alastair's specialisms stem from his work in urbanism, and as researcher and writer. At ADF, he is in charge of coordinating the curation and programming of the British Pavilion for the Venice Architecture Biennale. He currently oversees development and programming for the New British Inventors exhibition tour of Asia, and works on programming in the Middle East and the Gulf.

Alastair joined the British Council as part of the curatorial team for Venice Takeaway: Ideas to Change British Architecture, shown at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012. As an expert on urban planning and mobility and space, he has advised on urban policy at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, and on masterplanning and urban design at the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).

Alastair is associate director of the Future Cities Project, which critically explores issues around the city and society and he is co-editor of The Lure of the City: From Slums to Suburbs (Pluto Press, 2011). In 2008, Alastair co-founded Mantownhuman, which published Manifesto: Towards a New Humanism in Architecture. Alastair is co-director of its Critical Subjects Architecture and Design Summer School. 

To contact Alastair, email: alastair(dot)donald(at)britishcouncil(dot)org

Kendall Robbins

Kendall Robbins

Programme Manager, Fashion

Kendall programmes, curates, produces and commissions architecture, design and fashion events and exhibitions across East Asia and South Asia as well as in the UK, and advises on the British Council’s fashion work internationally. Her interests are in fashion curation, emerging fashion, craft and cultural heritage in contemporary design, material innovation, and fashion design education, her other specialisms include country music, hot sauce and literature pre-1950. 

Kendall has managed some of the British Council’s major fashion exhibitions, including Reconstruction: Cultural Heritage and the Making of Contemporary Fashion, Gem: Contemporary Jewellery and Gemstones from Afghanistan, and Dressing the Screen: The Rise of Fashion Film, the first ever UK exhibition of fashion film. She has also devised programmes such as Fashion Machine in Indonesia, Fashion DNA, the Common Thread residencies and the Graduate Fashion Week International Residency Award.

After receiving a BA in Fashion History and Theory from Central St Martins, Kendall worked as curatorial assistant on the exhibition Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion at the Barbican and was a freelance researcher on the V&A and Crafts Council’s exhibition Power of Making.  Kendall has delivered guest lectures on fashion and culture at various institutions, including London College of Fashion, the National Museum of Georgia, the Indus Valley School of Art and Design and the LaSalle College of Arts Singapore.

To contact Kendall, email: kendall(dot)robbins(at)britishcouncil(dot)org

Niamh Tuft

Niamh Tuft

Programme Manager, Fashion

Niamh specialises in fashion history and curation. She studied English Literature prior to completing an MA in Fashion Curation, and is particularly interested in the intersections between fashion, literature, philosophy and cultural theory. Niamh has previously led on our UK International Showcases programme, which includes the International Architecture Showcase and Design Connections. She continues to lead on the ever-growing International Fashion Showcase, and on programmes in Wider Europe.

After graduating from Oxford University with a BA in English Literature, Niamh completed an MA in Fashion Curation at the London College of Fashion. Her interests in fashion have tended to be interdisciplinary and her MA final project focused on the subcultural clothing of beat writers and artists in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Having shifted her focus to fashion curation, Niamh began work with the Shwop Lab project with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion and the National Trust, where she programmed Out of Hours, a cross-disciplinary art event at Ham House. Niamh joined the ADF team in 2012 to assist on the production of the international showcases, as well as other programmes including Mark-ing, Design Explore and Gem.

To contact Niamh, email: niamh(dot)tuft(at)britishcouncil(dot)org

Ella Reynolds

Ella Reynolds

Programme Manager, MLN

Ella is responsible for managing the Maker Library Network (MLN) and its global expansion. She is particularly interested in socially engaged and collaborative design practice, and the insights that emerge at the intersections of design, technology and culture.

Ella studied BA Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Art, developing a hands-on and process led approach to design through experimentation with traditional printing techniques and book making. Furthering her interest in design curation, in 2012 she completed an MA in Curating Contemporary Design at Kingston University and the Design Museum, focusing her research on the potential of participatory exhibition practice as an emerging context for engaging audiences with design.

Following this she worked as Project Co-ordinator for independent design curator Jane Withers, supporting the development and delivery of a wide variety of exhibitions and events including the Brompton Design DistrictWonderwater and Richard Rogers: Inside Out at the Royal Academy of Arts.  

Ella joined ADF in May 2014 to work on the UK International Showcases, which includes the International Fashion Showcase, the International Architecture Showcase and Design Connections.

To contact Ella, email: ella(dot)reynolds(at)britishcouncil(dot)org

Ria Hawthorn

Ria Hawthorn

Project Manager, NBI

Ria joined the ADF team in January 2016 to lead on the project management of the New British Inventors programme (NBI) and development of the programme’s flagship touring exhibition, Inside Heatherwick Studio. With specialist knowledge of design, Ria is interested in how the rise digital technology will affect our everyday lives and material culture.

Ria studied Foundation Art and Design at Camberwell College of Arts followed by a BA Contemporary Furniture Design. Working as a freelance designer for companies such as Habitat and Heals and as Showroom Manager at Viaduct Furniture, where she co-curated Viaduct’s annual exhibitions, Ria developed an in-depth understanding of the furniture and product design industry. In 2007, Ria completed a MA in Curating Contemporary Design at Kingston University in partnership with the Design Museum and wrote her dissertation on design in the art market and its effect on designers’ practice.

From 2008 to 2016 Ria worked as touring programme manager and curator at the Design Museum working on diverse projects and gaining a solid grounding in best museum practice. Ria oversaw the delivery of more than 35 exhibitions in the UK and abroad.

To contact Ria, email: ria(dot)hawthorn(at)britishcouncil(dot)org

Mel Spencer

Mel Spencer

Project Manager, Exhibitions

Mel joined the British Council in 2014 to project manage the Maker Library Network, part of the Connect ZA programme. She has since worked on other major exhibition projects, including the East Asia tour of New British Inventors: Inside Heatherwick Studio

Coming from a museum background, Mel has worked managing large-scale events and food and drink festivals. She went on to organise international touring exhibitions at the Science Museum and managed the Design Museum's exhibition installations and logistics. More recently, she has worked as a freelance project manager on exhibitions for Cannes Lions Festival, Beijing Design Week and London Design Festival

Her specific interests are in exhibition design and how information is presented using graphics and through working closely with designers. Mel's travels with touring exhibitions overseas have fostered her passion for international cuisine.

To contact Mel, email: melanie(dot)spencer(at)britishcouncil(dot)org

Gwen Webber

Gwen Webber

Project Manager, British Pavilion

Gwen has returned to the ADF team as Project Manager of the British Pavilion for the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, after delivering the RIBA 2015 Windows Project. Having studied Architecture at Nottingham, Gwen worked as a sub-editor and journalist for Blueprint magazine. Her writing on cities, architecture and design has been published by UK and international journals, including The Architect’s Newspaper, Vision, Icon and AR. In 2013, she wrote Studio Tilt’s first book on participatory practice, Co-Design: A Primer (Black Dog). 

While living in New York, she became interested in the influential work of Soho artists and their impact on the city’s development. Her research into the intersection between art and architecture led her to VoCA, where she coordinated programmes centring on oral history as a tool for the conservation of contemporary public art and sculptures. Gwen’s interest in how the spatial arts is communicated, as well as how and why architecture is built, has been key to her work at the British Council – first in 2014 as programme manager of the British Pavilion exhibition, A Clockwork Jerusalem and the accompanying inaugural Venice Fellowships programme, and later as ADF’s communications manager. Gwen is co-founder of arts collective, Dusk, and holds an MA in Architectural History from The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

To contact Gwen, email: gwen(dot)webber(at)britishcouncil(dot)org

Kate Le Versha

Kate Le Versha

Communications Manager

Kate joined the British Council in 2016 and works part time as Communications Manager for the ADF team, while continuing to run her independent communications and brand consultancy.

Based in Somerset House, Kate established ‘Le Versha’ in 2009 and has worked with over 30 brands from the worlds of design, art, fashion, craft and architecture including the Royal Institute of British Architects and many award-winning young studios. From furniture brands inspired by Brutalism, to architecture practices vying for the Young Architect of the Year Award, fine jewellery to embroidered wallpaper, hand blown glass to foundations working in Uganda and Myanmar; Kate is thrilled to support the creative talent she works with. At the British Council, Kate works across all of ADF’s programmes, applying her expertise in strategy, messaging, PR and marketing to projects from the Venice Architecture Biennale to New British Inventors.

After graduating from the University of Cambridge having read English Literature, Kate briefly worked in corporate communications with clients such as M&S, Tesco, Barclays Wealth and Goldman Sachs before striking out independently. 

To contact Kate, email: kate(dot)leversha(at)britishcouncil(dot)org

Debbie Leane

Debbie Leane

Programme Coordinator

Debbie joined the ADF team in 2015 as Programme Coordinator for the International Fashion Showcase and Venice Fellowships Programme for the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. Prior to this Debbie worked on a number of freelance projects spanning design and digital events, university research projects, writing and community management.

Her previous roles include Project Co-ordinator for curator Jane Withers, working on architecture and design exhibitions, and Partner Co-ordinator at London Design Festival, building relationships with the Festival’s vast array of partner organisations.

Debbie turned her focus to exhibitions, museums and design history while studying Three-Dimensional Design at Camberwell College of Arts. Her undergraduate dissertation entitled ‘How does the museum setting affect the perception of contemporarily designed, functional objects?’ was nominated for the Design History Society Student Essay Prize. More recently Debbie completed a graduate certificate in History of Art and Architecture at Birkbeck College, University of London, specialising in the history of exhibition making since 1860.

To contact Debbie, email: debbie(dot)leane(at)britishcouncil(dot)org

Jacob de Munnik

Jacob de Munnik

Programme Coordinator

Jacob joined the British Council early 2015 as Touring Exhibitions Assistant. He has since taken on the role of Programme Coordinator with ADF and worked across Design programmes, including Design Connections. With a background in art history he is interested in the potential for cross disciplinary collaboration between Design and Visual Arts and the challenges faced by both fields nowadays.

After receiving a BA in Art History from the University of Amsterdam, Jacob interned at auction house Christie’s where he conducted artist research, and at the culture department of Dutch weekly newspaper Elsevier, where he wrote articles about Art and Design. After that he completed his MA in Modern and Contemporary Art at VU University for which he focused on the methodology and critical theory of the German political artist Hans Haacke.

Jacob then pursued his interest in exhibition management and worked for The House of ABABA, a Rotterdam gallery representing young and emerging artists, where he managed exhibitions and events. He also worked for Ron Mandos Gallery in Amsterdam, coordinating exhibitions for a.o Ryan McGinness (USA), Daniel Arsham (USA) and Nika Neelova (RUS).