In her work, Associate Professor Bianca Elzenbaumer combines design research methods with critical pedagogy, conflict mediation and DIY making and explores how designers can contribute to create ecologically and socially just economies.

Her current work includes Precarity Pilot, an online platform addressing issues faced by socially-engaged yet precarious designers; COMUNfARE, a practice-led research on commons and community economies in the Italian Alps; Phd By Design, a research-led platform exploring what forms of knowledge production and dissemination are productive for practice-based design research.

At Leeds Arts University, her commitments include contributing to the institution’s research strategy, mentoring research-active staff and organising a yearly research trip abroad for the MA cohort.

Bianca completed her doctoral degree at the Design Department at Goldsmiths in February 2014. Her thesis ‘Designing Economic Cultures’, investigated the political economy of design and explores, by way of practice-based research, the potential of peer-to-peer activities to enable structures that support the resilience of socially and politically engaged design practices.

In 2013, she completed a PgCert in Management of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, and joined the Higher Education Academy as a Fellow. In 2010, she graduated in Communication Art & Design from the Royal College of Art; in 2007, she gained a degree in International Peacebuilding and Conflict Mediation from the University of Bologna; in 2006, she gained her BA in Design from the trilingual Free University of Bozen-Bolzano.

Since 2005, Bianca has worked with Fabio Franz as the collective ‘Brave New Alps‘.

Current research projects

Edited books
Elzenbaumer, Bianca, Fabio Franz, and Polly Hunter. Department 21. London: Royal College of Art, 2010.

Book chapters
Brave New Alps. “Design Education as a Practice of Freedom?” In About Learning and Design, edited by Giorgio Camuffo, Maddalena dalla Mura, and Alvise Mattozzi, 65–72. Bozen-Bolzano: University Press, 2014.

Journal articles
Brave New Alps. (2015). Precarity Pilot: Making Space for Socially- and Politically-engaged Design Modes of Criticism, (1). 

Cantiere per pratiche non-affermative. Designers’ Inquiry: An Inquiry on the Socio-Economic Condition of Designers in Italy, 2013.

Elzenbaumer, Bianca, and Caterina Giuliani. “Designers’ Inquiry - mapping the socio-economic conditions of designers in Italy.” ephemera: theory and politics in organization, 14, no.3 (August 2014): 451–59.

Co-Research Fanzine
Brave New Alps, Mohammed Abu Alia, Naba Al Assi, Isshaq Al Barbary, Nedaa Hamouz, and Murad Owda. Collective Dictionary: Commons & Commoning. Dheisheh Refugee Camp, October 2012.

PhD thesis
Elzenbaumer, Bianca. “Designing Economic Cultures: Cultivating Socially and Politically Engaged Design Practices Against Procedures of Precarisation.” Goldsmiths, University of London, 2014.


Making Commons Work - a Medea Vox podcast, K3 University Malmö (2017)

For more publications, follow this link.

For tweets on current research see @bravenewalps.