Sarah Naarden

Sarah is focusing on speculative place-making with eco-systems systems thinking and socially engaged design methods.

Sarah Naarden, Victorian Design Review Panel

Sarah leverages 20 years of experience as an architectural advisor, social sustainability leader, design thinking advisor and social impact entrepreneur.

As a former associate director with Bates Smart, Sarah specialised as an interior architect. She led multi-disciplinary design teams on:

  • local hospitals
  • mixed use residential developments
  • international hotels
  • the Royal Children's Hospital 

In 2013 Sarah founded 'Design Think Tank', to enable the voices of first people, old and young people to be heard in the place making process. As an advocate for 'Closing the Gap' in Indigenous Health, Sarah created an Aboriginal Healing Garden at the Monash Medical Centre. This project received a Federal Government Community Service Award in 2014.

In 2015 Sarah set up a design research practice 'Design Think Lab' with the aim to create prototypes of social impact in the built environment. As a social design researcher, she has produced a wide range of projects including a Neuroscience and Design Symposium. After writing a white paper in age care, she founded a start-up business proposing the rethinking of co-housing models for our ageing population.

Currently, Sarah is pursuing a PhD with Wonderlab, in MADA - Monash Art Design and Architecture. It is a pilot cohort intersecting the fields of co-design, social learning and embodied practices of play. It combines PhD candidates with backgrounds in:

  • neuroscience
  • architecture
  • embodiment coaching
  • communication design
  • graphic design
  • pedagogy design

Across several countries including: Italy, Brazil, US, India and Australia, the cohort is exploring optimal facilitation methods whilst rethinking participatory practices.