Foulis Medal 2023

Innovation School MDes in Design Innovation & Collaborative Creativity

Rebecca Xu (She/Her)

I am a T-shaped designer and researcher with expertise spanning visual communication design, social design, participatory practices and systems thinking.

Research drives my practice. Asking “why” leads me to responsible “hows” – design work grounded in diverse perspectives. I utilise research through design and research for design approaches.

My cross-disciplinary knowledge and collaborative ethos enable me to integrate insights, designing innovative solutions focused on positive change. I bring multifaceted lenses with foundational design skills and a growth mindset across technology, business, environment and society.

Past collaborations underscore the power of participatory, inclusive design processes. I continually explore ethical co-creation methods. My aim is for constructive, respectful design with positive impact.

Good design demands an open mind, empathy and social responsibility.

LinkedIn - Open to Work
Where do You Come from-Book Display
Where do You Come from
An Ethnography for Bilingual Couples
Weaving Futures

Where do You Come from-Book Display

Where Do You Come From- Book Display

Where do You Come from



“Where do you come from?” seems a simple question, yet holds complex meanings – an inquiry out of curiosity or an attempt to stereotype. This commonplace query points to broader concepts of self-identification.

This project explores the epistemologies of identity by summarising how 26 multicultural individuals navigate their complex heritages over 98 years. Their diverse experiences reveal multifaceted perspectives on this question across different eras.

Within this 25,000 word book, first-person stories recount personal memories. The narratives share thoughts from childhood to now, with resonating insights between immigrants, mixed-race individuals across generations, and views on politics’ influences on identity.

We created this project not to represent races or countries, but to represent ourselves as people sharing universal identity challenges. Our aim is not portraying uniqueness – we are human, like anyone you may know. Our stories reflect those universally shared experiences.

The focus of this project becomes not just “who we are” or “where we come from”, but also how we have been represented, and how we might represent ourselves in future.

It is a first step in sharing rarely-heard voices and sparking reflection. May it open minds, build bridges and send ripples of insight far beyond its pages.

Where Do You Come From- Video Display





An Ethnography for Bilingual Couples




The ethnography work formed the foundation of ‘Where do You Come from’, completed before to this graduate project. It focused on bilingual couples and their unique worldviews formed across cultures.

Through an autoethnographic lens, I examined language’s role in culture, identity, and shaping people. And I researched related multimedia, noting keywords like language, challenges, attitude, and happiness. With these keywords, I designed semi-structured interviews to engage individuals in multicultural relationships.

I combined 18 online and in-person interviews, mostly European and Asian due to time constraints.

During interviews, I explored experiences, insights, and perspectives on bilingual relationships – backgrounds, joys, challenges, identity, and belonging. Recurring keywords emerged like emotions, food, language, location, and metaphor.

To encourage subjective responses, I designed an online collage as an engagement tool. Participants chose images representing their identities to recount stories personally. This elicited diverse perspectives.

Analysing interviews by question, key insights arose:

-Experiencing multicultural relationships builds greater openness and empathy through daily exposure to differences.
-They tend to foster more respect for diverse cultures and mental flexibility. Some individuals embrace clear cultural ambassador roles, while others still struggle to identify where they belong.
-Cross-cultural relationships still have normal ups and downs like other relationships.
-Miscommunication can occur because of language gaps and cultural differences.
-Sharing food, philosophy, and music serves as starting points to overcome misunderstandings when building bridges between two cultures.
-Language is a vital factor in cultural understanding, and participants often learn from their partner’s language over time.
-Though most are fluent in English, some miscommunication persists around phrases locals don’t use or concepts that don’t directly translate. Nuance is often lost when code-switching between different languages.
-Some find a common language like English simplifies communication rather than their native tongue. But they struggle to decide which languages their children should learn, especially if their heritage language has limited global reach. They wonder if passing on a minority language is worthwhile in countries dominated by another.

These reflections on the identity behind multicultural individuals inspired this project ‘Where do You Come from’ to further explore those themes.

Weaving Futures



Pluriverse challenges ingrained boundaries, redefining our relationship with the Earth’s scale, other species, and the intersection of technology and nature.

This project explores the potential for collaborative innovation within decolonial museum spaces.

I individually designed and facilitated two workshops, guiding participants without prior expertise to engage with heritage through non-anthropocentric, interconnected methodologies.
Through collective discussion and art creation, the 20 participants showcased how these approaches can weave together diverse worldviews and knowledge systems. The workshops demonstrate my in-depth exploration of the Pluriverse concept and relational frameworks, including their application in reimagining inclusive futures.

This project exemplifies building a bridge to translate academic theories into tangible real-world collaboration and creativity. The workshops aimed to delve into participants’ existing understandings, seamlessly bridging abstract theory and lived experiences. The overarching goal was to explore diverse perspectives on museums’ pasts, presents, and futures, while fostering inspirational, equitable creative thinking.

We co-created a collaborative space where decolonization and storytelling could be safely and openly engaged from a multiplicity of standpoints. Through effective teamwork, I strengthened leadership abilities and discovered innovative solutions to complex challenges. This project illuminates the immense potential in collective, empathetic museum spaces.

The Second Workshop

(Cowork with Haotian Zheng)

The First Workshop

(Cowork with Haotian Zheng)