Dr Lina Hakim

School: School of Critical Studies and Creative Industries
Position: Lecturer in Visual and Material Culture, Department of Critical and Historical Studies


I am a researcher, lecturer and artist particularly interested in the overlaps between the material cultures of science, technology, craft, and play. I joined Kingston University in October 2015 teaching Critical and Historical Studies, mainly to Graphic Design students.

I was recently Andrew Mellon Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where I coordinated the V&A Research Institute Pilot Project exploring models of object-led inquiry and developing opportunities for cross-disciplinary and collaborative research. I taught postgraduate students from the V&A/RCA History of Design programme on a 'Key Concepts' course examining the latest theories and methodologies in the field, and I ran a 'Thinking Things' reading group for V&A staff and postgraduate students that discusses key texts in object-oriented research.

I also teach a course on 'Science, Art & Design' to undergraduate STEM students at Imperial College, London, where I also supervise an independent study module for third-year students on the theme of 'Science Culture and Society'.

I have been designing and delivering theory and practice courses focusing on visual and material culture across disciplines and in various contexts for over a decade.

Related links

Research expertise

My research concerns ways of studying artefacts and the thinking that they allow, focusing in particular on overlaps between the visual and material cultures of design, technology, art, science, craft and play.

My doctoral project, 'Scientific Playthings: Artefacts, Affordance, History', looked at three 19th-century scientific instruments that become toys – the string surface model, the Crookes radiometer and the gyroscope – as case studies to explore the understanding that things afford at the levels of encounter, production, use and re-appropriation.

My interest in how we learn from made things and from making processes is informed by my training and practice in art and design: it is driven by a tendency to draw things together, attentiveness to skill and craftsmanship, focus on the phenomenological unfolding of made objects at the maker/user interface, an alertness to the significance of meaning and interpretative tools in design, and active engagement with the politics of artefacts as assemblages.

My current research pursuits include work on case studies for a history of graphic design in the Arab world, studies of research methods at the interface of theory and practice, and an editorial project aiming to reinstate André Breton as a key thinker on object-led inquiry.

Teaching areas & responsibilities

Lecturer for Critical & Historical Studies (Design School)

Educational and professional qualifications

  • 2013PhD Humanities & Cultural Studies The London Consortium, Birkbeck, University of London
  • 2009MRes Humanities & Cultural Studies The London Consortium, Birkbeck, University of London
  • 2004MA Book Arts Camberwell College of Arts
  • 2001BA Graphic Design American University of Beirut

Conferences & events

Conferences organised

'Weaving: Making and Thinking', Science Museum and V&A (April 2015)

'Unravelling: Methodologies and Historiographies', V&A (December 2014)

Conference papers, symposia, seminars, talks

The London Design Festival and Nesta FutureFest / 'Introduction to Object Agency', Victoria and Albert Museum (Sep 2015)

Friday Salon: On Skeuomorphism / discussion with Dr Maya Oppenheimer, chaired by Dr Wood Roberdeau, Institute of Contemporary Arts, (Aug 2015)

Fabric of the City Symposium / 'Fabricating a Model for Textile Research' (with Dr Olivia Horsfall Turner), The Cass, London Metropolitan University (Jul 2015)

ESRC Impact Acceleration Workshop / 'Building a Thing Tank: VARI as model of research access and public engagement', University of Essex (May 2015)

V&A/RCA History of Design Research Seminars / 'Scientific Playthings: method and case study', V&A (Oct 2014)

24th International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine / 'Instruments as playthings: an alternative methodology', University of Manchester, UK (Jul 2013)

'Knowledge in a Box: How Mundane Things Shape Knowledge Production' Interdisciplinary workshop / 'The Radiometer's Glass Bulb' / Kavala, Greece (Jul 2012)

ICOHTEC 39th Annual Meeting: Technology, the Arts and Industrial Culture / 'Spinning Gyroscopes: the 'Go' of Operative Understanding', Escola Tècnica Superior d'Enginyeria Industrial, Barcelona, Spain (Jul 2012)

Scientific Instrument Commission conference: 'Instruments, Texts, and Images' / 'Scientific Playthings: The Afterlives of Scientific Instruments', Cabinet of Astronomy & Physics and Museumslandschaft Hessen-Kassel, Germany (Oct 2011)

British Association for Victorian Studies annual conference: 'Composition & Decomposition' / 'The Making and Unmaking of a Scientific Instrument', University of Birmingham, UK. (Sep 2011)

Royal Geographical Society of Britain IBG annual conference: 'The Geographical Imagination' / 'Playing Mathematical Geographies', RGS, UK. (Aug 2011)

'Collecting and Gathering: Making Worlds and Staking Claims' graduate conference / 'Collecting in Art as System of Thought', Columbia University New York, USA (May 2009)

Workshops co-ordinated

'VARI Labs' (various theory and practice workshops), V&A, London (Dec 2014 May 2015)

'Structural Intuition and Pattern Design', Horizons workshop for 'Creative Thinking' students at Imperial College, London (Mar 2015)

'Biometric Mapping', Horizons workshop for biomedical students at Imperial College, London (Dec 2013)

'Sewing and Geometry', children's workshop for the Royal Institution of Great Britain, London (Jun 2012)

Metalab Evening Workshop: 'Crafting Mathematics', Science Museum, Tate, Birkbeck and the RCA (May 2012)

'Introduction to Book Arts' [AttRAct workshop] for A-Level students at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (Feb 2010)

'AIW:A International Artists Workshop' (10-day workshop for international mid-career artists, coordinated in association with the Triangle Arts Trust Network and Gasworks), Aley, Lebanon (Aug 2008).


'To Break into Pieces', essay on the relationship between crystallography and breaking toys for Atomic Radio, a six-part radio series on the long relationship between the arts and the science of X-ray crystallography. First broadcast on Friday 6 June 2014, 4.30pm GMT on Resonance 104.4 FM.

'How to Think about Things', show for season 5 of The Thread radio series on Resonance FM. I planned and hosted this discussion of interdisciplinary approaches to object-oriented ways of thinking with Prof. Christopher Pinney, Prof. Steven Connor and Dr. Aura Satz. First broadcast in April 2012.


'Object Lessons', a series of interviews and presentations about object-based projects, processes and practices that constitute research in the context of a museum collection.

'A history of an OBJECT in 100 worlds' blog

Research groups & programmes