Sophie Thomas

Founding Director

My practical experience in the delivery of award-winning, innovative and highly sustainable communication projects has taken me to some amazing places. I have visited laboratories that are searching for dark matter, deep in a North Yorkshire mine, for the Weller Astronomy Galleries project and been high on a scaffolded Super Tree looking down on the beginnings of the beautiful Gardens By The Bay in Singapore.

Since founding Thomas.Matthews I have had the privilege of working with some brilliant people both in our team and as our clients. This brings challenges and a complexity that makes the design work more interesting, you never know who you might be talking to tomorrow!

Kristine Matthews and I established the studio with strong ethical and sustainable foundations and this continues to be very important to me. I campaign at industry and government levels and have founded a number of social enterprises that aim to advance the design industry’s capacity to respond to environmental challenges through knowledge sharing and investigation.

My long-term interest in sustainability and materials has led me to share my experience of closed loop thinking with other designers, and in 2012 I founded The Great Recovery, a programme to build capacity and understanding of circular design in the materials supply chain through practical exploration (i.e. tearing things apart and re-designing them). This programme is now running through the RSA.

I am continuously debating and talking about the role and influence of design and play a vocal part in promoting sustainable thinking through design education and business. I try to write regularly for design press and am currently Co-Director of Design at RSA and Director for Useful Simple Projects. I have a busy life, and keep everyone up to speed on Twitter! @tmsophie

Brief CV

BA(hons) Graphic Design
Central Saint Martin’s School of Art, 1992-5

MA RCA Commnication Design
Royal College of Art, 1995-7

Designer, The Body Shop design studio, 1997-8

Founded Thomas.Matthews 1998 – ongoing

Established not for profit organisation:
Three Trees Don’t Make a Forest, 2007-10

Organised Greengaged conference
London and Beijing Design Festivals, 2008-9

Member of Design Council Board of Trustees, 2009-11

Member of the Useful Simple Trust Board of Trustees
2008 – ongoing

Steering group for Design Council programme

UKTI Mission to the Netherlands with MKtN
Designing out Landfill, 2011

Launched The Great Recovery programme
2012 – ongoing

Co-director of Design for the RSA (part-time), 2012-15

Design Observer on Circular Economy Task Force
Defra, run by Green Alliance

Reviewer, WRAP PSF action plans, 2013

Director of Circular Economy, RSA, 2015 – ongoing

Achieved chartership with
Chartered Institute of Waste Managers (CIWM), 2014

BSI committee member, advisor on PAS 8910
and new circular economy accreditation, ongoing

Evidence for Panel for the Science and Technology
Parliamentary Group on Resource Security, 2011

Committee member for the Parliamentary group
commission on Industrial Sustainability and
report ‘Industry Evolution’, 2015

Nominated for Industry Leader of the Year,
CIWM sustainability and resource awards, 2015

Selected as CABE Built Environment Expert (BEE) 2015