Dr Sabrina Rahman

Research interests

My current research examines the common aesthetic, political and economic practices that have shaped the intersection of architecture, fashion, graphic design, and interior design in imperial Austria, Britain, Eastern Europe, and South Asia. My book manuscript Empires of Design: Historicism, Modernity and the Politics of Global Living explores how visual and haptic modes of communication have contributed to notions of local identity and cosmopolitanism across cultural and geographical boundaries, starting with the Great Exhibition and concluding with the development of post-imperial policies of inclusive housing. In doing so, I engage with questions of class, empire and ethnicity in nineteenth- and twentieth-century design, and am informed primarily by the history of design theory (Alois Riegl, Adolf Loos, Josef Frank, Victor Papanek, Bernard Rudofsky) as well as contemporary theories of migration and postcolonialism.

I co-edited the volumes Mies van Rohe, Richter, Graeef & Co. Alltag und Design in der Avantgarde-Zeitschrift G (2013) and Imagining Blackness in Austria and Germany (2012), and have published widely on a number of topics related to visual culture in Central and Eastern Europe. I have also written the entries on Austria, Bulgaria and Lithuania for the Bloomsbury Encyclopaedia of Design (2016).

I have special expertise in the collaborative work of the sociologist Otto Neurath and the designer Josef Frank, as well as the history of Viennese housing. I also work extensively on fin-de-siecle Vienna and art of the Habsburg Empire, emigre designers after the Second World War, and global histories of architecture and design.

I have a general interest in the history of art and design in Britain, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Japan, South Asia, and West Africa. Other interests include the intersection of museum studies and design history, migration and diaspora studies, and the curation of everyday life and the modern vernacular

Research collaborations

In conjunction with my academic publications, I have had extensive curatorial experience in Austria, the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2015 I was co-curator of the exhibition Bilston's Happy Housing: Otto Neurath's Vision for Post-War Modern Living (Bilston Craft Gallery), which followed on my work as a guest curator of architecture and design at the Wien Museum in Vienna (2011-12).

I have supported interdisciplinary and international collaboration by presenting my research to academic, curatorial and public audiences in Austria, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.