I completed my undergraduate studies (Interior Architecture & Design) at the Academy of Art University of San Francisco before moving to London. I received an MA degree (Interior & Spatial Design) at the Chelsea College of Art & Design (UAL) working on spatial and emotional effects of negative images; an attempt to determine if negative images used in an aesthetics context have the ability to present sensory- emotional values that retell the stories of horror, fear and trauma. The visual outcome of my research was a stained glass memorial piece devoted to the victims of all wars.

In my research I noticed the absence of stained glass in literature and its important role in Islamic architecture. Most text books were about the history of stained glass in medieval art and Christianity. The importance as a cultural, environmental and sustainable element of architecture, vital to the communities of Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, was missing. Once I had the opportunity to explore central Iran, I was struck by the lack of knowledge and attention to this art form. I visited a number of sites where stained glass was featured within endangered buildings that are slowly fading from the dusty streets of central Iran. I felt the urgent need to document what will soon be gone forever. My research is an attempt to discover the origin of stained glass in Iran in details.

Research interests

PhD Title

A Traditional Narrative on the Origin, Design and Climatic Imperative of Coloured Glass Panels and Orsi Windows in Persia

My doctoral dissertation was conducted with guidance from Dr.Henrik Schoenefeldt. My work examined climatic qualities of sash windows in traditional Persian courtyard-houses using mixed methodologies. The inspiration came in part from a notable absence of literature regarding coloured glass panels and Orsi, or sash Persian windows, as architectural, environmental and aesthetic elements of traditional Iranian design. My objective was to investigate Orsi integrated dwellings and window-morphology in order to understand whether driving factors, such as environmental changes, advancements in building technology, the availability of crafting materials, cultural influences and artistic aspirations, motivated evolution of traditional, uniform Persian windows into enlarged and detailed Orsi windows during a climatic-period known as the Little Ice Age. This investigation was made possible through examination of evidence from a variety of sources, including a detailed historic exploration of events that took place during and after the reign of the Safavid Dynasty and was comprehensively documented by western travellers to Persia. Architectural and visual evidence, when available, were also taken into consideration.

My primarily historical analysis has been augmented by several field trips to collect visual evidence from the few remaining historic buildings. This work was then incorporated with current knowledge of vernacular building methods to form a unique and not previously explored analysis of Persian sash windows. The significance of my research was development of the concept of environmentally conscious design through historical records of the built-environment, with an emphasis on social and economic elements, and particularly the role of patron. My research would not have been possible without development of close working relationships with other researchers and scholars, archives, libraries and cultural institutions in England, Iran and the United States, all of which have contributed significantly to my personal and networking skills, and financially supported my research through several research grants.


Professor Gordana Fontana-Giusti and Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt

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