Current design research stems from an interest in how a specific sensory environment can enable children and young people with autism to access learning more effectively. On a yearly basis since 2013, Joan has run a specialist project with a group of first year BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and Design students to Design a School for Autism.
The impact of this research has led to working with several SEND Schools and Colleges for Autism in Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford and Harrogate for children and young people. The project has grown and shifted in context from university students working 1:1 with children with autism, to learning about sensory processing disorders and design issues from special needs teachers, to the students presenting their design ideas to staff teams. Joan's pedagogic approach encourages students not only to engage actively with the real- life issues surrounding autism but also to explore creative design concepts inspired by the sensory difficulties found within the environment.
Joan Love is a senior lecturer and an artist who has experience of interior design in architectural practice. Her on-going research explores innovative, art-based approaches within the early stage of design development, currently encompassing sensory spaces for autism.
Since 1988 Joan has worked as an interior designer for two large London based architecture and design practices, Austin-Smith: Lord and DEGW, undertaking a wide range of projects covering education/workshops, restaurants/bars, exhibition and office design for clients such as the Victoria & Albert museum. After moving north in 1994, she worked as a freelance designer for Braithwaite & Jackman, an architectural practice in Leeds, undertaking retail and educational projects for clients such as Leeds University. She then formed her own design practice encompassing projects from hotel, office and ecclesiastical to medical design.
Joan became a Senior Lecturer and Level Four Co-ordinator on BA (Hons) Interior Architecture & Design, in 2001 and became a Senior Fellow of the HEA in 2015. She is also an artist, having been short-listed for the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition as well as exhibiting in local galleries. One of her main areas of on-going research is to explore the links between early, imaginative, creative processes in painting, sculpture, music and film, within the interior architecture course at Leeds Beckett. She has a strong belief in exploring and experimenting with the ‘overlap’ between Art, Architecture and Design.
In addition, Joan has a detailed and working knowledge of the needs of young people with Autism, and she regularly attends National Autistic Society conferences. She produces and exhibits artworks which undertake to raise an awareness of the complexity of the condition. Her most recent area of exploration utilises illusion; some of her works can look calm and classically appealing from a distance but, on closer inspection, the works communicate cutting edge research regarding the often misunderstood and troubled world of autism.