“Design is the occupation of straining our ears and eyes to discover new questions from the midst of everday life.”
(Kenya Hara)

“Design is less, but better. You cannot understand design, if you do not understand people.”
(Dieter Rams)

“Design can make us better through possible action and alternative critical knowledge and practices.”
(Idrees Rasouli)

Hi, I’m Idrees — a creative leader and enabler of creative partnerships, pedagogy, and research that break boundaries between higher education, business, and society, with deep knowledge and experience in growing initial pilots into mature scaled systems.


︎Born in Kabul, raised in London and nurtured in over a dozen countries — I’m an award-winning designer, with a focus on innovation and transformation. I’m the Founder and Creative Director of X-Crop︎︎︎, a research and innovation lab focused on making cities, organisations, and people better by design!

In the past 16+ years, I’ve been working with all kinds of cities, organisations and people, helping them solve issues of urbanisation in the 21st century through design, on both local and global levels. I have business acumen and the ability to rapidly adapt and respond to strategic and operational challenges, with board level experience in assembling, motivating, and inspiring outstanding teams to identify, frame, and deliver sustainable growth and high-performance outcomes.

I'm a systems thinker with an aptitude for strategic decision-making and the capability to scope, facilitate and deliver all things design, from framing an opportunity to innovation strategy, business model, concept & development, prototyping, testing, production, and marketing.

I believe design should start from ‘small things’ — like a tornado that starts from small ideas and gradually turns into a bigger vision. A bottom-up approach and way of thinking that integrates the immediate context, resources, systems and processes to find the most important problems in our cities, organisations and communities through observing and noticing everyday life conditions, and then trying to capture and turning them into something that’s simple, thoughtful and impactful as well as easy to understand and share.

Trained at the Royal College of Art︎︎︎ and Imperial College London︎︎︎ — I cultivated my design leadership skills through extensive practice, pedagogy, and collaboration with a number of world-famous architecture, innovation, design, engineering, and branding companies, such as the Office for Metropolitan Architecture︎︎︎, InnovationRCA︎︎︎Ramboll︎︎︎, Fortune 500︎︎︎, and Fitch︎︎︎; with direct involvement in projects across a wide range of industries, including technology, automotive, energy, healthcare, transport, fashion, aviation, consumer goods, manufacturing, education, and construction throughout the UK, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

︎I'm a creative education leader who champions a collaborative and adaptive style of leadership through empathy and transparency, with a focus on change, transformation, and evaluation. I have the ability to identify and understand the perspectives and needs of others, and respond to those perspectives and needs from a place of care, dignity, and compassion.

I’m an enabler of creative partnerships and research that break boundaries between art & design and global issues, with a track record in business transformation & turnaround and building networks & ecosystems across the industry, government, and academia through interdisciplinary projects and systemic design approaches.

As a design academic, I’m an expert in the design and delivery of academic and creative development activities which embed active and inclusive collaborative learning and teaching practices. I have 14+ years of experience in participatory and people-centred strategic planning and effective operation of academic offering across all levels (module, subject, course, programme, department, school, and faculty), with a significant track record in initiating, developing, and delivering innovative academic practices at UG, PGCert, PGDip, PGT, and PGR levels and influencing organisations in the UK and globally.

Previously, I developed, delivered, and led multiple design courses, including the world’s first ARB accredited interior design course︎︎︎, and eventually the Department of Architecture︎︎︎ at Ravensbourne University London︎︎︎, building high quality academic experiences and stimulating environment for students and staff from various backgrounds, with a focus on combining pedagogic experimentation, creative imagination, and cross-disciplinary collaboration to create the best propositions for the issues of the built environment and society. Moreover, I taught design and innovation to postgraduate and research students in the School of Design︎︎︎ at the Royal College of Art︎︎︎ alongside prominent academics and industry leaders, with a focus on cross-cultural design, transnational trends, and context-specific methods and approaches.

Currently, I am Associate Professor (Art & Design) and Deputy Head of Cambridge School of Art (Education)︎︎︎ in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences︎︎︎ at Anglia Ruskin University︎︎︎ where I lead the portfolio of art & design (BA, MA, and PhD) programmes with a particular focus on vertical and horizontal experiences and progression and new forms of multi-site and shared collaboration integrating practice-based research with teaching and knowledge exchange as well as evolving art & design’s relationship to the key local, national, and global challenges by rethinking the role of critical and contextual studies in an art school environment and the purpose of an art school in the 21st century.

At CSA︎︎︎, I have been working with various teams to reposition the school, academic staff, and existing provision and make them future-facing, global and leading-edge. I lead on the planning and development of formal and informal offerings as well as new and exciting undergraduate and postgraduate courses (including a new postgraduate framework for art & design education that includes MA Human-Centred Design︎︎︎, MA Art, Health, and Wellbeing︎︎︎, and MA Interior Design Innovation︎︎︎) with a focus on extending the school’s art & design portfolio, particularly around ethical, inclusive, and systemic practice and innovation; looking at how we can move beyond disciplinary boundaries towards interconnected, holistic, analytical, decolonial, and entrepreneurial approaches that enable positive contribution to society, health, and planet.

In academia, my strength is in being a key resource in the development, articulation, and delivery of policy and strategy for education, research & innovation, and operations, and my principal accountabilities have included; leadership & direction, strategic planning, quality management and assurance (learning, teaching, and assessment), internationalisation, student experience, wellbeing & outcomes, financial performance, workforce planning & recruitment, change management, professional and scholarly development of colleagues, effective management of school community, environment and resources, programme innovation & development, promotion of research & knowledge exchange, cross-school/faculty/university collaboration, professional compliance, and representation.

Additionally, I am External Examiner and Course Development Consultant for Interior Design and Interior Architecture courses at School of Design, Architecture, and Interiors︎︎︎ at Falmouth University︎︎︎ with a focus on providing guidance and expert advice on the development of new multi-site, digital, and cross-cultural undergraduate and postgraduate design courses. I am Member of the Board of Advisors at Digital Influx︎︎︎ (a world’s first EdTech company to teach young people User Experience and Design Thinking) with a focus on strengthening their understanding of design, technology, education, economics, demography, geopolitics, and policy. I am Fellow of the Higher Education Academy︎︎︎ and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts︎︎︎.

︎My pedagogy focuses on pioneering new methods and strategic models for partnering public and private sector organisations, such as the Transport Research Laboratory︎︎︎, Greater London Authority︎︎︎Ford Motors︎︎︎, and Ogilvy︎︎︎; with academia to co-create prototypes that respond to everyday and future needs; investigating through world-class ideas and concepts that define the future of urban environments, learning and experience, mobility and energy, transaction and trade, health and wellbeing, living and care, working and play.

My teaching focusses on encouraging an international and cross geo-cultural educational experience through multi-site and shared collaborative projects that challenges stereotypical approaches and methodologies to design education and practice by connecting the ostensibly unconnected, recognising the relationship and value of the local & the global as well as the importance of experimentation and the need to innovate for purpose.

As a doctoral researcher in Innovation Design Engineering, School of Design︎︎︎ at the Royal College of Art︎︎︎, my practice-based research explores the concept of Decolonised Innovation. I investigate new system of methods, principles, and rules for design that are free from the forces of globalisation—liberating from the constraints of a world that is already made and from externally imposed conventional methods and perspectives, therefore decolonised—whilst balancing with resource-constrained ways of knowing, designing and making in the moment of now in an unsettled context to approach the construction, longevity, and suitability of objects within specific culture and context.

My research through private practice, teaching, and writing and in collaboration with public and private sector organisations, such as the World Humanitarian Forum︎︎︎, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation︎︎︎, Vestre︎︎︎, Crisis Response︎︎︎, and Atlantic Pacific︎︎︎; examines the concepts of Human-Connected Design, Design in Crisis and Emergency, Autonomous Design, and Design Under Resource Constraints, and questions the role of borders and transnationalism in design and innovation across the least developed, developing, and developed economies.

Ford / Nokia / Shenzhen Stock Exchange / Chelmsford Borough Council / British Council / Kuwait Catering Company / Ashfield District Council / Leaside Regeneration Company / Hitachi / Imperial College London / Seoul Design Foundation / Fitch / Aspire Logistics / Rio Tinto / Royal College of Art / Office for Metropolitan Architecture / Kuwait Hotels Company / Ramboll Group / Ravensbourne University London / Design Museum London / Deutsch Bank / InnovationRCA / Wates Foundation / University of Milano - Bicocca / Korea Advance Institute of Science and Technology / Qatar Foundation / China Central Television / KEIO University / British Olympics Authority / Lusail Development / Samsung / LG, Korea / Tokyo Department for Tourism / Leicester City Council / Greenwich Automated Transport Environment / Transport Research London / ESNE University / Robert Owen Nursery School / World of Hope / Ogilvy / Southwark Council / Metropolitan Police / Royal College of Physicians / Creative Ken / Methodist Church / City of Kamaishi / Atlantic Pacific / Nebama Mind / Croydon Council / United Natioans Development Programme / Unilever / Vestre / Dubai Design Week / Canadian University of Dubai / The Culture Capital Exchange / Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation / Institute for Innovative Global Education, Kansai University / CERN / Logitech / World Health Organisation / World Humanitarian Forum / Emergency Show / Digital Influx / Falmouth University (SADI) / Cambridge City Council / Cambridge Arts Network / Crisis Response / University of Hertfordshire

︎ +447985414318

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