Rachel Abrams is a strategic designer for public space. In 2006, she founded Turnstone, an independent think/do-tank dedicated to improving everyday experiences of products, systems and services by design.
Working across media and industries (arts and culture, media, mobility, technology, transportation, the municipal and non-profit sectors), she defines and delivers seamless, public and for-profit interactions in physical places and digital spaces, for ordinary people, citizens and consumers.
Rachel’s work clarifies complexity, shapes the possible, and fosters participation to build individuals’, communities’, national and global capacity for resilience:
Rachel was graphic facilitator at the United Nations 70th General Assembly at the adoption of the UN’s global Sustainable Development Goals, and for the Municipal Arts Society at The Rockefeller Foundation‘s Bellagio Center in Italy, marking the tenth anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (both 2015).
In 2014, she was a fellow of the Open Society Foundations‘ Inquiry into Technology and the Future of Work program, exploring technology-enabled domestic and professional equity.
On the Board of the New York chapter of the American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA NY), she conceived and secured funding for Design/Relief, its program for members’ local response to Superstorm Sandy.
Before that, she led the identity strategy for the renovated Queens Museum and, as technology fellow of the Design Trust for Public Space, co-edited Roads Forward, reporting on the future of New York’s cab industry to municipal government.
Since 2006, she has taken two breaks from Turnstone to work in other strategic design roles:
In 2012, she was Special Advisor to PentaCityGroup, designers of the award-winning New York Department of Transportation’s official Walk NYC streetmaps.
Between 2017-2020, she led strategic design in Foresight, Research and Innovation as Associate Principal at Arup, New York, where she focused on visualizing operations for rapid transit, commuter rail services and aviation clients.
She returned to independent consulting at Turnstone Consulting in 2021.
Rachel is on the faculty of the Products of Design MFA program at the School of Visual Arts, having taught previously in SVA’s Visual Narrative, Design for Social Innovation and Interaction Design MFA programs since 2009 and as an adjunct professor in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University between 2007-09.
Before Turnstone, Rachel was an interactive content strategist for award-winning interdisciplinary brand consultancy, Imagination (US) Inc, designing exhibits and environments for Samsung, 2010 Winter Olympic sponsors, Bell Canada and others. She also worked as a user experience strategist for ibm.com at IBM in New York, and in London, for the BBC, The Economist and for the UK Parliament.
Rachel has an undergraduate degree in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University and a Master’s degree in interaction design from the UK’s Royal College of Art.