Dr Kate McLean

Programme Director, Graphic Design
Dr Kate McLean


Dr Kate McLean works at the intersection of human-perceived smellscapes, cartography and the communication of ‘eye-invisible’ sensed data. To achieve this, she leads international public smellwalks and translate the resulting data using digital design, watercolour, animation, scent diffusion and sculpture into smellmaps showcasing the invisible world of smells.

Educated in Boston, USA, the University of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Art in London Kate previously led the BA Graphic Design programme at Canterbury Christ Church University before joining Kent in 2021.

Kate has an international profile and is often invited as speaker at workshops and conferences around the world across a range of fields from Landscape Architecture to Design, Olfactory Heritage to Sensory Studies. She also works to promote understanding of anosmia and parosmia for international charitable organisations.

At the University of Kent, Kate leads the Graphic Design programme within the School of Architecture and Planning. The course enables students to develop and hone key skills as designers – translation, creation and articulation – through projects that focus on environmental and experiential graphic design problems from signage and wayfinding to typographic shrines, digital collage book cover design to moving image. The course interweaves with the BA in Spatial and Interior Design, also offered by the School.

In 2023, Kate was awarded the University Teaching Prize in recognition of the exemplary way she has embedded employability into the curriculum.  

Research interests

  • Representation and communication of smellscapes
  • Social performative mapping
  • Practice-based sensory communication design
  • Olfactory heritage / historic smells
  • Spatiality and temporality of human-perceived smells,


Kate teaches visual communication, experimental typography, creative narratives and environments, communications, photography and imagine, fundamentals of design and visual communication.

Taught Modules

DESG5003: Design Agency

DESG5005: Brand Experience

DESG6000: Information Design

DESG6003: Design Exploration

DESG6004: Design Realisation



August 2021 – October 2021
‘Entorno Encuentro Exploración’ / Group, by invitation / Museo Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain

July 2021 – January 2022
‘Two Hundred Years of Stink’ / Solo, by invitation / Curated by: French, J / Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, Widnes, UK

January 2020 – February 2020
‘Charting the World’ / Group, by invitation / Curated by: Davidson, D / Suffolk University Gallery, Boston, USA

February 2019 – February 2020
Quel flair !‘ / Group, by invitation / Curated by: Leibling, C / le Musée de la main UNIL-CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland

April 2018 – September 2018
 ‘The Senses: Design Beyond Vision‘ / Group, by invitation / Curated by: Lupton, E / Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, NYC, USA

August 2017
‘Summer Streets NYC: Astor Place’ / Group, by invitation / NYC, USA

July 2016 – March 2017
You Are Here: A Journey through Maps‘ / Group, by invitation / Curated by: Williams, P / National Library of Scotland touring exhibit, UK

Last updated