Rachel Abrams

Associate Principal, Strategic Design, Arup



Rachel Abrams is an Associate Principal at Arup, the global consultancy for the built environment. Based in New York, she leads the Foresight and Design Strategy team there.

A visual storyteller, creative place-maker and design strategist, she previously ran Turnstone Consulting, an independent policy-aiding design strategy practice. There, she contributed to a range of projects improving public services and civic space by design, including the rebranding of the Queens Museum (with Map Office and Grimshaw Architects), advising on New York’s Taxi of Tomorrow program, consulting to the MTA strategy board on improving subway data analytics and passenger communications, and leading fieldwork and content standards as Special Advisor to the Department of Transportation’s Walk NYC citywide wayfinding program (with PentaCityGroup). As a visual storyteller, Rachel counts Amnesty International, MoMA and the United Nations among Turnstone’s graphic facilitation clients.

She is a former fellow of The Design Trust for Public Space, the Rockefeller Center/Municipal Arts Society, the Open Society Foundations, and former New York board member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, where she co launched Design/Relief, the membership’s participatory response to Superstorm Sandy.

Before Turnstone, Rachel consulted for interdisciplinary exhibit designers, Imagination, and worked for IBM, in site strategy and standards, for ibm.com. Teaching graduate students at the School of Visual Arts since 2009, Rachel has also served on the faculty of the Interaction Design, Design for Social Innovation, Visual Narrative MFA programs as well as PoD. She has written about design and policy for over 30 publications over two decades and presents her work regularly to national and international audiences.

MA (RCA), Computer-Related (interaction) Design, Royal College of Art, UK
BA (Hons)/MA (Cantab), Social & Political Sciences, Cambridge University, UK


Design for Social Value: Design and Ideology