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Nigel Ordish MDes RCA

Design practitioner, researcher and academic

Nigel works mainly on practical research and development projects, often involving his specialist disciplines of product design and music composition.
He has designed for a wide range of international clients, from UNICEF to IBM, and written and performed music for television, radio and theatre. He has extensive experience in higher education including as Research Fellow at the Royal College of Art to being Head of School of 3D Design at Kingston University, and through work as a university External Examiner.

Nigel's previous practice as a product design consultant includes work with Moggridge Design Associates (now IDEO) primarily designing digital and medical products, including a microscope for UNICEF and energy metering equipment (awarded patent). This work built on his pioneering development of a resource information centre for the home which was awarded the Pye Design Award and exhibited by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design in Brazil and at the Design Council in the UK in 1980.

Nigel has extensive experience of working in higher education which includes being appointed as Research Fellow to the Royal College of Art (1985-87) to develop innovative conceptual design tools with SDRC solid modelling software for NCR (UK, USA and France) and IBM (UK and Germany). During this time he co-founded the RCA's unique postgraduate Computer Related Design course.

He was subsequently appointed Principal Lecturer of Product Design at Ravensbourne College of Design (1988-93), then Head of the School of 3D Design at Kingston University (1993-2002) where he led degree programmes in Product, Furniture and Interior Design, and developed a new Masters degree in Production Design for Film and Television.

In 1999 he initiated a partnership between Kingtson University and Austria's national training organisation (WIFI) to offer his school's design degrees at a specially developed New Design Centre in St Pölten, near Vienna. The centre's success enabled it to be awarded independent university status (2005) where Nigel has been a Visiting Professor. His associated work with other Austrian design initiatives includes: Chair of Bösendorfer's piano design competition (2006), design strategy presentation for the Austrian Trade Commission (2006) and Vienna Design Week design education panellist (2008).

Nigel has focussed for many years on how the creative process links to design for sustainability and emerging new technologies. In 1994 he established and directed a design research team at Kingston University to assess the sustainability of specific natural, synthetic and recycled materials, achieving a Design Council Innovation Award (2000) to develop findings into a virtual library for design education and practice.Nigel was also External Examiner for the Design for Sustainability degree at University College, Falmouth until 2011.

His design research into new technology and sustainable low-batch production generated wider industrial support, initially from Burns Guitars to produce CNC machined guitar necks and bodies in the Kingston workshop. This research informed an EU project submission (2001) with university partners across Europe to a produce a range of wood based products from the Alpine Carpathian region.

In 2002 he led a further research initiative to promote the innovative use of steel with Corus UK, leading to the development of an international design competition for which he was a judge (with Nigel Coates, Blueprint magazine and the Design Council). As a result of this success, Shared Practice was later commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Pewterers to develop a separate competition to promote the contemporary use of pewter (2004).

Nigel's current work in Shared Practice does not generally involve the designing of physical products. His expertise in the design process is applied through projects thatcan involve a combination of his skills in creative thinking, problem solving, project management, research analysis and assessment, and of course, music...

Composer, arranger and performer

Nigel has always combined a career in design with one in music composition and production, both as a freelance professional and academic. Since the 1980s he has worked on a diverse range of projects which include composition for animation, contemporary dance, documentary, theatre, radio and television, and performance across the UK and in mainland Europe.

In 1981 he became a full-time partner in The Joeys, writing and performing political comedy and music for touring stage shows as well as composing and arranging commissioned works for radio, television and film (with clients ranging from the BBC to the TUC). His particular strengths in satirical composition that led him to be recognised as a "master of pastiche" (1982, New Musical Express). Below is an example song from a Joeys' stage show which combines a cynical assessment of consumer product design with a synth-pop arrangement typical of the period.

Joeys Designers video on YouTube

The Joeys were primarily a live act who, over a four year period, performed over 200 shows each year, culminating in the Seventh Joke tour and a feature length documentary review film of the Edinburgh Festival commissioned by Channel 4 television (Edinburgh Inside Out, 1985).This led to a further commission to write a comedy series (which became Cornerhouse, Channel 4, 1986). However, Nigel chose to leave the partnership to develop his ideas on the creative application of new digital technology, and explore its effect on the design process..

At this stage, Nigel's musical work combined analogue multi-tracked recordings with computer generated sounds using basic sequencing software. This experience in using computer technology to create music helped inform his subsequent research work at the Royal College of Art with modelling software, and fuelled his ideas for greater interdisciplinary collaboration, leading to him co-founding the Computer Related Design course.

As Head of the School of 3D Design at Kingston University, Nigel continued to champion interdisciplinary education, creating team based projects which mixed staff and students from architecture, design, fine art and music disciplines. Subsequently, in 1995 he initiated a Masters course in Production Design for Film and Television, helping to develop a related course in Composition for Film and Television and other opportunities for collaboration. Further academic work in music includes membership of review and validation panels for music degrees at Kingston, Hong Kong and Kneller Hall Schools of Music, and advising on the development of diplomas in Recording and New Technology in association with the Association of Professional Recording Services.

In 2006, NIgel's unique range of professional experience in design and music led him to be appointed jury Chair for an international competition to design a grand piano or performance space for Bösendorfer, Austria. The expert jury (which included instrument, acoustic and product designers) selected the prize winning entries in both student and professional categories for a special exhibition at the Design Forum, Museum Quarter, Vienna.

n 2010, Nigel successfully completed an Open University course in the music elements, techniques and styles of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods to further develop his formal composition and arrangement skills. This experience has informed a review of his past compositions which are currently being edited to be issued as library themed collections. Other work includes a collaboration with the architectural photographer Mike Dye of MDA to produce a short film featuring aspects of the Centre Point tower in London for which Nigel has created the music and video (2012).

Nigel continues to undertake all types of commissions which meet Shared Practice's principles and policies. He is a member of the Performing Right Society, the Musicians' Union and Equity.

Email for CV or music sampler

Early Joeys videos

Diane WarburtonPrinciples and policies


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