Dr Robert Harland, Reader in Graphic Heritage, Loughborough University

Robert’s expertise covers the macro, meso, and micro dimensions at which people interact with urban places and spaces through graphic images in the context of urban heritage. His research is guided by the question: How do graphic objects facilitate the function of cities and urban places? As design research, this has framed research themes connecting graphic heritage and graphic memory to fascist iconography (Latina), riverside heritage (Shanghai), Islamic design (Granada), colonial settlements (Adelaide), waste co-operatives (São Paulo), urban colour identity (Leicester), UNESCO creative cities (Bradford), and places named after Nelson Mandela (Johannesburg). He has led several funded international research projects with NGOs such as the Shanghai UNESCO City of Design, the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Robert holds a PhD in Architecture from the University of Nottingham. His research monograph Graphic Design in Urban Environments was published by Bloomsbury in 2016, and he is currently writing a book on Urban Graphic Heritage: Design and Heritage Interpretation (Bloomsbury, 2026). 

Dr Alison Barnes, Senior Lecturer, Western Sydney University, Australia, and Research Fellow, Loughborough University

Alison’s expertise is in the nuanced understanding of ways communities and places reflect their differing histories and heritages and in doing so, create everyday heritage spaces. Her research explores graphic heritage concerning ideas of food and migration; critical toponymy and placemaking; sports stadia,supporter rituals and identity; architecture and heritage listing; and, gentrification and design literacy, particularly in diverse urban contexts. Her design research interests span the differing roles graphic design can play in the mediation, construction, and communication of everyday life, belonging and identity. Alison is a Senior Lecturer in Design at Western Sydney University, Australia, holds a PhD from the University of Arts London, and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. She is currently a chief investigator on the Australian Research Council funded Linkage project The Collaborative Museum: Embedding Cultural Infrastructure in the City (LP200301481). Alison’s research monograph Creative Representations of Place was published by Routledge in 2019. 

Dr Yolandi Burger, Research Fellow, Loughborough University

Yolandi’s expertise is in co-design methodologies, responsible citizenship, social change, and research impact, applied in the context of collaboration between local communities, creative industries practitioners, and NGOs. Her design research interests combine the emerging importance of graphic heritage for social impact through design pedagogy and educational technologies in real world scenarios. She has pioneered the development of graphic heritage in South Africa through her work with Nelson Mandela Foundation, bringing together heritage practitioners, archive specialists, intellectual property and copyright professionals, creative industries practitioners, and urban planners, showcasing digital design prototypes for new approaches to conveying Mandela’s graphic heritage connected to places named after him. Yolandi holds a PhD in Higher Education Studies from the University of the Free State in South Africa together with a Master’s degree in Design. 

Jie Xu, Associate Professor, China Academy of Art, China

Jie is an Associate Professor at China Academy of Art (CAA) in China, where he is also Associate Director of the Color Research Institute of CAA. His research interests are in colour research, urban study, and environmental graphic design. He believes that rather than being subordinate to the requirements of urban design and planning, colour thinking can be understood as part of design thinking. He is a member of the Study Group on Environmental Colour Design for the International Color Association. Having completed his PhD at Loughborough University, Jie worked as a Research Associate on the AHRC funded Repositioning Graphic Heritage project, and played an integral role establishing the Graphic Design Research Unit.