Dr Catherine Caudwell

Dr Catherine Caudwell profile picture

Postgraduate Director School of Design


BFA (1st Hons) Massey University, College of Creative Arts

MFA (Distinction) Massey University, College of Creative Arts

PhD Design Studies, Victoria University Wellington, School of Design


I received my undergraduate and masters’ degrees in Fine Arts, majoring in Sculpture, with a particular focus on interactive mixed media installation art. My particular interest in the cultural impact of technology led me to complete a PhD in Design Studies that explored how consumers make sense of design objects through cultural production. My research and teaching are shaped by a passion for understanding how people make meaning of, and with, design objects and services.

A knitting machineA screenshot of a cartoon heard and flowers over the top of a photograph

Research interests

I am an interdisciplinary researcher with a particular interest in how storytelling and narrative shape the meaning, development, and experience of design. My PhD research focused on the use of existing robotic companions in online fan fiction, and the design insights that can be gleaned from understanding these narratives as critical and creative reflection. I have worked collaboratively in diverse fields, such as fine arts, speculative design, architectural history, information management, anthropology, media studies, and design research.

My current research addresses the role of design and marketing in shaping relationships with social robots. Read more about it on The Conversation.

Stuffed dog toyA Furby toy


Catherine teaches in the Master of User Experience Design, the Design for Social Innovation Programme, and is the Postgraduate Programme Director for the School of Design.