Professor Sharon Baurley, chair of the Burberry Material Futures Research Group

LONDON — Burberry and the Royal College of Art are steaming ahead with their research, design and innovation partnership, which was unveiled last year.

Professor Sharon Baurley has been named professor of design and materials and chair of the Burberry Material Futures Research Group, which is based at the Royal College of Art.

The group is a research initiative involving the luxury label and the London-based university and aims to focus on innovation and sustainability. The initiative was revealed last year following an award of 3 million pounds from the Burberry Foundation.

Its plan is to apply “radical thinking to invent new, sustainable materials, transform consumer experience and advance manufacturing to benefit the whole industry and wider community,” according to Burberry and the RCA.

The partners said Baurley’s background in areas including smart materials and the impact of new technologies on the future of manufacturing will define the group’s research agenda. Baurley will also lead the commercial and practical application of the research outcomes via collaborations with industry partners.

Baurley has been a research professor at the RCA since 2016, where she also completed her Ph.D. in textile design. She has worked with companies including Courtaulds Textiles, Versace, Marks & Spencer, Unilever, Design Intelligence and the Italian silk mill Mantero.

Professor Naren Barfield, deputy vice-chancellor of the RCA, said Baurley’s track record in research covers “the full range across design, materials, engineering electronics and computer science. [She] is the ideal person to provide intellectual and academic leadership to the Burberry Material Futures Research Group.”

Leanne Wood, Burberry’s chief people, strategy and corporate affairs officer and trustee of the Burberry Foundation, said the group was created to find ways to build a more sustainable future “and we are excited to see the advances in material science that will be achieved under her leadership.”

The Material Futures Research Group will act as a virtual center until it officially opens its doors in 2020 at the new RCA campus in London’s Battersea, and will pave the way for the establishment of the future RCA Materials Science Research Centre.

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