MA Communication Design: Senior Lecturer & Course Leader

My research is focused on (inter alia) critical pedagogy, epistemology, & ethics in design & design education. 

Since 2016, I have developed & led the MA Communication Design at Falmouth University — a transdisciplinary, transformative postgraduate programme.

Prior to that, I taught at the University of Johannesburg where I developed the studio curriculum for the BA (Hons) Graphic Design postgraduate programme.

My teaching is informed by my experience as an art director & graphic designer for various agencies including Ogilvy & OgilvyAction. 

I also co-run Sober & Lonely an artist-run space, a sci-fi feminist library, a running club, & whatever else you want it to be.

For a complete résumé (committees, press, publications, exhibitions, grants, residencies); to collaborate; discuss being Sober & Lonely; or anything else, feel free to get in touch.

External Links

Picture of Robyn Cook's artwork

Contact details

Telephone 01326 255836



Year Qualification Awarding body
2017 DPhil Visual Art University of Pretoria
2011 MA Fine Art Wits University
2009 BA Fine Art (Hons) Wits University
2001 N.Dip Graphic Design Wits Technikon

Honors and awards

Year Description

NRF Thuthuka Research Grant, National Research Foundation: South Africa


FRC Creative Production Award, University of Johannesburg: South Africa


NRF Thuthuka Research Grant, National Research Foundation: South Africa


FRC Creative Production Award, University of Johannesburg: South Africa


Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust (scholarship): South Africa


National Arts Council of South Africa (scholarship): South Africa


Brait-Everard Award Johannesburg: South Africa


Anya Millman Travel Scholarship, University of the Witwatersrand: South Africa

Membership of external committees

International Society of Typographic Designers

Research Interests

Research Topics

  • Critical Design
  • Critical Pedagogy
  • Ethics
  • Participatory Design

Research Outputs

Publications and research outputs

  • Cook, Robyn, PLATFORM P and Korean Society of Typography

    (2023), Unequal Stories: Pedagogic responses to gender inequality in Design, In: Korean Society of Typography, Korean Society of Typography, Seoul, Korea, pp. 86-101, ISSN: 2093-1166
  • Cook, Robyn and Sekyeong, Kwon

    (2019), Speculating on the Future of Graphic Design in the Age of Intelligent Machines, In: Design and Semantics of From and Movement: DeSForM 2019 Beyond Intelligence, DeSForM, MIT, Samberg Center, 6th Floor, E52 MIT Campus. 50 Memorial Drive, Cambridge MA 02139, pp. 262-266, ISSN: 2706-6150
  • Cook, Robyn

    (2016), The Parking Gallery: Experimental practice and the artist-run initiative in South Africa, In: De Arte, Taylor & Francis, South Africa, 51 (1), pp. 57-73, ISSN: 0004-3389, Item availability may be restricted.
  • Cook, Robyn and Cook, Sue

    (2019), Reflections on reflexivity and ethics for relational design and relational design pedagogy, Goldsmiths, University of London in partnership with The Glasgow School of Arts, (Submitted)
  • Cook, Robyn

    (2017), Design, critical pedagogy and supporting the student-led movement from within, In: The Graphic Design Educators’ Network 2017 Conference, 7—8 September 2017, The Graphic Design Educators’ Network 2017 Conference Ideas of Revolt: Stationing ideas of revolt within contemporary graphic design education Venue: Sheffield Institute of the Arts, Sheffield Hallam University
  • Cook, Robyn

    (2016), A crash course in empathy: Design Thinking 101, In: ACT Conference, 16 March 2016, Johannesburg, South Africa, (Unpublished)
  • Cook, Robyn

    (2013), Sober & Lonely: On generosity, artist-run platforms and new institutional strategies, In: SAVAH Conference, 5-8 September 2014, Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Cook, Robyn

    (2019), Design Thinking, neoliberalism, and the trivialisation of social change in higher education, In: Standing Items: Critical pedagogies in South African art, design & architecture, Jacana Media, South Africa, pp. 12-26, ISBN: 978-1-928440-21-5
  • Cook, Robyn

    (2018), What’s the point of an MA in design anyway?, In: What’s the point of an MA in design anyway?, It's Nice That, Online, ISSN: Online

Externally funded research grants information

Collaborators Currency Funder HESA Category Project title Value Year ending Year starting

The University of Johannesburg

Global Challenges Research Fund Gender in Design 2021 2018

Research Students

Current research students

Dwayne Roberts 'Unlearn to navigate crises: Toward a pedagogy of nothingness'

Sara Hougham-Slade 'A practice-based enquiry on weight and correlative movement through non-digital ‘Haptic Illustrative Devices’ as textual aids for neurodiverse individuals'

Tamarin Harvey 'Using a social care model to introduce digital technology into a care home to enhance resident wellbeing'

Kelly Parker 'Blackout: A phenomenological study of stereotypes and misrepresentation in contemporary UK Linear TV Advertising on Black UK Audiences'


Courses taught

  • MA Communication Design
  • BA(Hons) Graphic Design

Professional Engagement

Independent professional practice

Selected Exhibitions (2013-Present)

2020 ...she finds not her sum but her differences: a project in parts, Gallery Gallery, Johannesburg: South Africa (Curators: Chloë Reid & Sara-Aimee Verity)
2016 The New Biennial, Botkyrka Konsthall, Fittja, Sweden (Curator: Abir Boukhari).
2015 Concerted Efforts, West Gallery, Melbourne, Australia (Curators: Sam McCulloch & Christopher Williams Wynn).
2014 Hisk Show, De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam, Netherlands (Curators: Clare Butcher & Christina Li).
2014 Gesture, GUS Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa (Curator: Lucy Turpin).
2013 Les Salons Dus Salon, The Island, Chaussée de Wavre 155, Brussels, Belgium (Curator: Devrim Bayar).
2013 The Space Between Us, Courtesy, 73 Rue Anselm Saint Ouen, Paris, France (Curator: Ana Iwataki).
2013 Transcontinental Express, Museum Perron Oost, Amsterdam, Netherlands (Curators: Clare Butcher & Lot van Gelder). 
2013 My Voice Will Now Appear in Another Part of the Room, Joshua Tree, USA (Curator: Anna Astrand)* 2013 Precognito / Incognito, Santa Monica Museum of Art, USA (Benefit auction).
2013 Devil's Heaven, Watermill Centre, New York, USA (Benefit auction).

Curated Partnerships (2013-Present)

2015 Something to Come Later with Samantha McCulloch & Christopher Williams Wynn, S&L, Johannesburg, South Africa. 
2015 Ridder & Thirst with Abri De Swart, S&L, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2014 Year End Function with Jon Bernad, Robyn Nesbitt, Nina Barnett & Piya Wangthiang, S&L, Johannesburg, South Africa. 
2014 None Sights & Tasty Ceilings with Anna Astrand, S&L, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2014 Astrological Gastronomy. S&L, Johannesburg, South Africa. 
2014 The Unfailing Table with Anna Romanenko & Bjorn Kühn. S&L, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2014 A view of the moon with Robyn Nesbitt. S&L, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2014 Imaginary Appetites with James Webb. S&L, Johannesburg, South Africa. 
2014 Artshakes with SmallSips (Karin Tan & Sky Quadling). S&L, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2014 Next time when you hear with Malose Kadromatt Malahlella. S&L, Johannesburg, South Africa. 
2014 Futures, S&L, Johannesburg, South Africa. 
2013 A Dag Van Kunst, SYB Kunsthuis, Beesterzwaag, Netherlands. 
2013 An Experiment to Test the Destiny of the World, Ithuba Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa.