With nearly two decades at the helm of London design studio Thomas.Matthews, Sophie Thomas is well known for putting sustainable systems at the heart of her company’s creative work. The incorporation of ideas like ‘the circular economy’ into more mainstream design thinking has no doubt been helped because of the studio’s influential example. Yet Thomas has also worked to bring this thinking into businesses and UK government organisations, proving how designers are key to discussions around communication, materials, waste and the efficiency of resources.
Her projects have inevitably been diverse in nature – from working on the public consultation programme for the Olympic Park Legacy Masterplan, to the wayfinding, signage and identity for Singapore’s award-winning Gardens by the Bay (below), while clients such as P&G, Howies and Samsung have also tapped into Thomas’ knowledge of new models for circular business, sustainability and innovation. In 2012, she founded the The Great Recovery programme at the RSA which, until this year, sought to build understanding of circular design in the materials supply chain.
Personal projects such as Never Turn Your Back on the Ocean, a talk and artwork based on her visit to Kamilo Point in Hawaii where she witnessed the extent to which plastic waste is polluting the world’s oceans, reflect her commitment to protest and the questioning of the status quo – another affirmation of her belief that designers have a vital role to play in instigating real change.