Javier Gimeno Martinez

dr. Javier Gimeno Martinez

Personal profile

Personal information

I am a design historian and an Associate Professor at the Vrije University Amsterdam. I developed the Master Design Cultures and am a member of research schools and networks NICACLUE+, Design History Foundation (board member), International Committee for Design History and Design Studies (board member), Ghent Design Museum (advisory board), Vlaams Architectuurinstituut (advisory board), Tijdschrift voor interieurgeschiedenis en design (editorial board member) and a former member of Journal of Design History (editorial board member). I have been a visiting scholar at the Royal College of Art, London, in the year 2009-2010 and a visiting researcher in the Research group Theorizing Visual Art and Design (TVAD) at the University of Hertfordshire (UK) in the year 2014-2015. I have served as an advisor for the FWO, the NWO and the publishers Sage and Bloomsbury Academic


My background combines a degree in Industrial Design Engineering (Bsc and MSc) with another in Art History (BA and MA). My first teaching job took place immediately after this double training, teaching art history to industrial designers before I started a MPhil in History of Design and Architecture, of which I graduated in 2001. Finally, my PhD dealt with the cultural and economic development of design in the 1980s in both Belgium and Spain with which I was granted the grade of doctor at the KU Leuven in 2006. My PhD dissertation was entitled ‘The Role of the Creative Industries in the Construction of Regional/European Identities (1975-2002). Design and Fashion in Belgium and Spain’ and was supervised by Prof. dr. Hilde van Gelder (KU Leuven) and Dr. Viviana Narotzky (Royal College of Art, London).


My present research investigates research methodologies used in design scholarship, revealing its origins in other disciplines from the Humanities and the Social Sciences and their implementation. Design history and design culture have succeeded in defining a field of study (a subject of investigation). Albeit this field might be in constant expansion and redefinition, design has found its own place among the visual arts, media and architecture. Conversely, as disciplines (modes of investigation) design history and design culture have drawn from existing disciplinary methodologies instead of creating some of their own. Chiefly art history but also cultural studies, material culture studies and anthropology have provided design analysis with methodological tools.

My interest for this research topic started with my previous research on the relation between design and national identity and flows logically from it. My research on national identity already built bridges between the theories on national identity and multiculturalism – stemming from the Humanities and the Social Sciences – and the field of design. This connection has been beneficial for both parts. Many of these theories implicitly involve design in their formulations but have not been implemented in design. On the other hand, looking at the interaction of design with society from a production/mediation/consumption perspective can offer new insights on how the national is both embedded and experienced in everyday life. This work of the last fifteen years has been disseminated in a number of publications including peer review journals such as The Journal of Design History, Design Issues, Design and Culture, Interiors: Design, Architecture and Culture, Urban Studies, Konsthistorisk Tidskrift/Journal of Art History; presented in conferences in the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, the USA, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Finland, Norway and Portugal; and crystalized in my book Design and National Identity published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2016.


Since the defence of my PhD in 2006, I have been immersed in design history and theory, studying, researching, and teaching it. In my classes, students learn that design is a form of knowledge to be analyzed, evaluated, experienced, mapped, and ultimately synthesized in writing. I have enjoyed working with a diverse body of students, including the Design Culture student, the Art History student, the Cultural Studies student, and the designer in the making. My classes do not only take place in the classroom but also in archival collections, museums, the street, and research centers. Physical encounters with design, designers, and users take students beyond the textbook, challenging them to scrutinize the political and social forces that both shape and are shaped by design.

I teach undergraduates 1st and 2nd year's courses in Image and Object Analysis and Fashion History and Theory. On graduate-level, I teach a course on Methods of Design Analysis: The Meanings of Design (on research methodology) and The Arts and Crafts of Dutch Design (on canon formation and theories of national identity), plus guest lectures in courses by colleagues such as my contribution in the 3rd year’s course Contesting Images (on Iconoclasm vs. Idolatry). Yearly, I supervise theses at both BA and MA levels.


I have been successful in obtaining external research funding for my own full-time research positions (1 year at the KULeuven Research Fund and 3 years as post-doctoral fellow at the Research Foundation-Flanders), two embedded research projects in the e-humanities and the creative industries (2 x 30,000 EUR VU/UvA), the organization of a major conference (ICDHS 2010 in Brussels, 11,500 EUR from different sponsors) and a project on innovation in education (Association KULeuven, 129,788 EUR). Furthermore, I have experience in co-supervising PhDs at the Faculty of Humanities (VU) (1), the Faculty of Human Movement Sciences (VU) (1) and the Architecture department at the University of Antwerp (1).


Ancillary activities

  • Tijdschrift voor interieurgeschiedenis en design | Gent | Lid van het wetenschappelijk comité | 2017-05-01 - present
  • Int. Committee for Design History and Design Studies (ICDHS) | Amsterdam | Bestuurslid | 2017-05-01 - present
  • Vlaams Architectuurinstituut | Antwerpen | Lid van de klankbordgroep | 2021-02-01 - present
  • Vlaams Architectuurinstituut | Antwerpen | Adviseur | 2021-02-01 - present

Ancillary activities are updated daily


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