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Marten Sims

Senior Lecturer – Graphic Design

BA (hons) Graphic Design · Masters of Applied Arts in Design


Marten has been responsible for a diversity of roles over a career spanning 17 years and three continents. He’s worked as a course instructor, designer, consultant, workshop facilitator and as a public speaker. Based in Canada from 2009–15, Marten taught courses in branding, design fundamentals, and print production at Emily Carr University, design for civic engagement at Simon Fraser University, and branding and design at Vancouver Film School. In the UK, he worked as a Visiting Tutor at AUB from 2015 to 2017 and full-time from 2017. Marten develops students design research capabilities through experiential workshops, user-centred and transdisciplinary approaches to complex problems. Marten holds a BA (Hons) Graphic Design from AUB, a Masters of Applied Arts in Design from Emily Carr University in Canada and a PGCert in Education Practice from Bournemouth University. In 2011 he received the ‘Ideas Award’ by Vancouver General Hospital and his artwork resides in the permanent collection in the hospital emergency room.

Professional practice

Marten’s experience can be broken down into the four places he’s lived: London, Ecuador, Canada and Europe. From 2003–08, he was based in London and held permanent roles with River Design, Noah Design and Philosophy Design, working with brands such as the World Wildlife Fund, Stirling Ackroyd, Knight Frank and Marcus Cooper Group. He has three years of experience as a freelancer, working with over 75 design agencies, in-house design studios and architectural firms like Gap, TP Bennett, Channel 4 and Sainsbury’s. In 2008, he worked pro-bono as a designer for the Charles Darwin Foundation, based in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, Ecuador. He relocated to Vancouver, Canada in 2009 and was a part of several award-winning projects while working at Karacters Design Group: environmental graphics for BC Place Stadium, and the brand identity for Sport BC. In Vancouver, he is known for his facilitation work with the Vancouver Design Nerds, facilitating over 30 citizen-designer workshops, as well as creating temporary urban interventions and permanent installations such as a giant wooden nest for social interactions, hosting walking tours, and installing many other installations that foster sociability and creativity in public environments. Marten is the founder of trans-disciplinary design studio Beyond. His work includes brand identities, reports, interior design. Clients include: Earnest Ice Cream, Tusaayaksat, the HiVE and BROKE. From 2012–14 he served as a member of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Engaged City Task Force – advising the mayor, deputy mayor and city staff persons of the City of Vancouver on best practices in participatory public engagement. Since 2015, Marten has taken to focusing on design for happiness, health and wellbeing. In his design practice, he leads Happy City’s European operations, a company born out of the book ‘Happy City – Transforming our lives through urban design’ by Charles Montgomery. In this role he gives presentations, facilitates workshops, creates experiments, performs site audits, and helps clients designs spaces, services and engagement processes with a focus on happiness, health and wellbeing. Clients include: the World Health Organisation, CIVITAS, The Academy of Urbanism, City of Stuttgart, Future Cities Catapult, The Cycling Embassy of Denmark and British Land.

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (2018)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2018)


  • Presidents Award – Emily Carr University (2012)
  • Ideas Award – Vancouver General Hospital (2011)

Research Specialism

Marten is most curious about the effects of design on our behaviour, social interactions and intra-actions. In particular, his urban design work is often grounded in evidence from psychology, sociology, neuroscience, public health, and behavioural economics. He is also invigorated by the concept of the ‘citizen designer’ and how giving non-designers access to design tools and processes can enable them to improve their lives and those around them. His Masters thesis studied the emerging fields of transdisciplinary design and transformation design. He continues to apply and adapt these modes of design thinking to his practice and can often be found creating new theories of change, systems thinking visualisations and visual maps to assist students and non-students with understanding and unpacking complex problems.

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