DIF Headliners

Areti Markopoulu

Areti Markopoulu

Architect, Researcher & Educator

Areti Markopoulou is a Greek architect, researcher, and educator working at the intersection between architecture and digital technologies. She is the Academic Director at IAAC in Barcelona, where she also leads the Advanced Architecture Group, a multidisciplinary research group exploring how design and science can positively impact and transform the present and future of our built spaces, and the way we live and interact. Her research and practice seeks to redefine architecture, as a performative 'body' beyond traditional notions of static materiality, rigid forms or standardised manufacturing.

Areti is founder and principal of the multidisciplinary practice Design Dynamics Studio, and co-editor of Urban Next, a global network focused on rethinking architecture through the contemporary urban milieu. She is the project coordinator for a number of European Research funded projects which include urban regeneration though technologies and multidisciplinary educational models in the digital age.

Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens

Founder & Director, P2P Foundation

Michel Bauwens is the founder and director of the P2P Foundation and collaborates with a group of global researchers to explore peer production, governance, and property. Michel is also the research director of CommonsTransition.org. - a platform for policy development aimed towards a society of the Commons, and a founding member of the Commons Strategies Group ( with Silke Helfrich and David Bollier), which organises major global conferences on the commons and economics. He has (co-)published various books and reports in English, Dutch and French, such as (with Vasilis Kostakis), ‘Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy’. Michel currently lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and last spring he crafted a Commons Transition Plan for the city of Ghent in Belgium, after working on a similar project for Ecuador in 2014. For the next three years, he will advise SMart, a fast growing European labour mutual for autonomous workers, seeking welfare reform (commonfare), while looking into biocapacity-based, contributive accounting mechanisms.

DIF Studio

Zoe Laughlin

Zoe Laughlin

Co-founder & Director, Institute of Making

Zoe Laughlin is a co-founder and Director of the Institute of Making. Working at the interface of the science, art, craft and design of materials, outputs range from formal experiments with matter, to materials consultancy and large-scale public exhibitions and events with partners including Tate Modern, the Hayward Gallery and the V&A. Her work has been shown in London’s Science Museum and is included in the new permanent collection of The Design Museum. Her particular areas of interest currently include The Sound of Materials, The Taste of Materials and The Performativity of Matter, and Zoe can often be found giving theatrical demonstration lectures or making programmes for both radio and television. She holds an MA from Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design and obtained a PhD in Materials within the Division of Engineering, King's College London.

Michael Shaver

Michael Shaver

Professor of Polymer Chemistry, University of Edinburgh

Dr Michael Shaver is a Professor of Polymer Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. He leads the Green Materials Laboratory which he founded when he moved to Edinburgh having completed a doctorate degree at the University of British Columbia, a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Imperial College London, and independent academic roles as Assistant and Associate Professor at the University of Prince Edward Island. His team develops sustainable alternatives to petroleum-derived plastics. Current projects include new biodegradable polyesters that mimic the properties of polystyrene, polymers for water filtration systems and API delivery, and new self-healing materials. Dr Shaver’s research is supported and funded by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for fundamental research and Innovate UK. Notably, Dr Shaver is also the Head of Graduate Studies for the School of Chemistry, Editor of the European Polymer Journal and an avid participant in public engagement activities.

Steve Parkinson

Steve Parkinson

Education Manager, Autodesk

Steve has worked within education for 15 years. Having formerly taught at secondary, college and university level, he received the James Dyson Foundation teacher of the year award, for his influence and contribution to the modernisation of Design and Technology education. Steve co-founded a disruptive educator movement, Teach Design, and later led various initiatives across the UK, including nationwide digital design programmes for Autodesk, and London based STEM programmes for the Department for Education and the Mayor for London. With a BSc (Hons) and MA focused in Design and Technology Education, Steve is passionate about improving the teaching of Design and Technology, and has worked with multiple disruptive organisations, including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. In 2015, he was awarded an honorary fellowship at the Royal Society of Arts, for work in sustainability. A firm believer in bridging the gap between education and industry, Steve is now Education Manager for Autodesk in the UK, working with students and educators in schools, colleges and universities.

Michael Pawlyn

Michael Pawlyn

Founder, Exploration Architecture

Michael Pawlyn established Exploration Architecture in 2007 to focus on designing high performance buildings and solutions for the circular economy. The company has developed a ground-breaking office project, an ultra-low energy data centre, a zero waste textiles factory, and progressive solutions for green cities.

Prior to setting up Exploration, Michael Pawlyn worked with Grimshaw for ten years and was central to the team that designed the Eden Project. He is regularly booked as a keynote speaker on innovation and, in 2011, became one of only a small handful of architects to have a talk posted on TED.com. His TED talk has since had over 1.8 million viewings. The first edition of his book Biomimicry in Architecture has been RIBA Publications’ best-selling title and the second edition was published in October 2016. Michael Pawlyn jointly initiated the widely acclaimed Sahara Forest Project; the latest version of which was opened by the King of Jordan in 2017.

Almaz Zelleke

Almaz Zelleke

Associate Professor of Practice in Political Science, NYU Shanghai

Almaz Zelleke is Associate Professor of Practice in Political Science at NYU Shanghai. Her academic interests are in political theory and public policy, feminist political theory, and comparative political economy. Her articles on basic income, distributive justice, welfare policy, and feminist political theory have been published in Political Quarterly, Basic Income Studies, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, Policy and Politics, Review of Social Economy, and Journal of Socio-Economics.

Almaz holds a PhD in Political Science from Harvard University. She is a member of the Board of Advisors of the US Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG) and of the International Advisory Board of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN).

Mike Werner

Mike Werner

Lead for Safer Chemistry, Google

Mike Werner is lead for Safer Chemistry at Google in their consumer hardware division. As a chemist and materials scientist, his mission is to eliminate toxic chemicals from consumer products and drive higher environmental performance and sustainability of product design. He previously led safer chemistry and biocompatibility initiatives at Apple and product sustainability with Haworth Inc. Mike has worked in the green building and product design space for 14 years - including with renowned green architect Bill McDonough.

He currently sits on the advisory board of the Green Science Policy Institute and recently co-authored a paper with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation titled the Role of Safe Chemistry and Healthy Materials in Unlocking the Circular Economy.

Sharon Baurley

Sharon Baurley

Professor of Design & Materials and Chair of the Burberry Material Futures Research Group, Royal College of Art

Sharon Baurley is Professor of Design & Materials, and Chair of the Burberry Material Futures Research Group at the Royal College of Art, London. Her research is focused on ‘Product Culturesas a strategy for post-Industrial Design in the age of the Anthropocene.

A trained Textile Designer, and recognised as a research and academic leader, Sharon has a track record in STEM+Design inter-disciplinary research project leadership - hosting inter-disciplinary networks as platforms to scope new research spaces in smart textiles and wearable technology; 3-dimensional textile manufacture; wearable technology and electronic textiles as tools for remote on the body social interactions; and new cultures of design and production focused on consumer design and innovation in clothing, consumer products, food, health (dementia), and social enterprise. She has collaborated with Premier Foods, Fairphone, Vodafone, HP Labs, IDC, the Alloy.

Sharon has consulted for Marks & Spencer, Unilever, and Courtaulds Textiles connecting industry-groups in design and technology to innovate and conceptualise new materials and products.