Alex Coles is an art and design critic and editor. DesignArt (Tate Publishing, 2005), his first book, triggered a debate about limited edition design, principally in the art and design market. As a follow-up, Coles edited the anthology Design and Art (MIT Press/Whitechapel Publications, 2007), which argued for a deeper understanding of the interface between art and design.
Coles' most recent book The Transdisciplinary Studio Vol. 1 (Sternberg Press, 2012), is a study of studio models of artists (Olafur Eliasson and Jorge Pardo), product designers (Konstantin Grcic), and graphic designers (Abake). To write the book, Coles spent a sustained period of time in each studio conducting ethnographic-styled embedded research. He is currently researching Vol. 2, due for release in 2013.
In the autumn of 2012 Coles will launch a new series of edited books through Sternberg Press titled EP.
Edited anthologies include: The Anxiety of Interdisciplinarity (Black Dog Publishing, 1998), Mark Dion: Archaeology (Black Dog Publishing, 1999), The Optic of Walter Benjamin (Black Dog Publishing, 1998), Site-Specificity: The Ethnographic Turn (Black Dog Publishing, 2001) and Design and Art (MIT Press/Whitechapel Publications, 2007).
Recent catalogue essays include: "Kiss the Frog! The Art of Transformation" (National Museum, Oslo, 2005), "Anton Henning" (Museum fur Kunst Frankfurt, Germany, 2006), "Project VITRA" (Birkhauser, 2007), "Jorge Pardo" (K21, Düsseldorf, 2009), "Martin Creed: Down Over Up" (The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, 2010), "Donald Judd: A Good Chair is a Good Chair" (Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 2010), "Konstantin Grcic" (Gallery Kreo, Paris, 2011) and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec (Pompidou-Metz, 2012).
Public Lectures and Conferences
Recent conferences organized include: "What is DesignArt?" (Tate Britain, 2005), "The Greater ‘60s" (Courtauld Institute, 2006), "Dialogues in DesignArt" (Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2007) and a forthcoming debate on "The Transdisciplinary Studio" (ICA, London).
Recent conferences, seminars and debates participated in include: "The DesignArt Debate" (Royal College of Art, 2004), "Dan Flavin: Switched On" (The Courtauld Institute, 2006), "Ellsworth Kelly" (The Serpentine Gallery, 2006) "M/M: Critical Forum" (The Royal College of Art, 2006), "Jorge Pardo: Critical Forum" (The Royal College of Art, 2009), "Konstantin Grcic: Design Real" (Serpentine Gallery, 2009), "Felix Beltran: Critical Forum" (Royal College of Art, 2010), "Design = Art?" (Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 2010), "Jorge Pardo: Roundtable Debate" (IMMA, Ireland, 2010), "Art and Design: Friends or Foes?" (Saatchi Gallery, London, 2011), and "Ronald Jones: Critical Forum" (Royal College of Art, 2011).
In November 2011 Coles was appointed Professor of Transdisciplinary Studies, School of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Huddersfield.
Previously, Coles had been a lecturer at Goldsmiths College in the Department of Art History, senior lecturer in Fine Art at University College for the Creative Arts (now the University for the Creative Arts), and chair of Fine Arts, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles. During the academic year 2010/2011, he lectured on the Critical Forum at the Royal College of Art, the MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design, and the MA in Experience Design at Konstfack, Stockholm.