AOD Faculty


Thomass Atkinson

 Professor Thomass Atkinson, Director Academic Affairs lead AOD Fashion & Textile department. Previously Head of School Fashion at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) in Rochester and Epsom, Prof. Thomass graduated from St Martins School of Art, London with a BA (Hons) Fashion/Textiles, before pursuing an MA Design Degree in Fashion from the Royal College of Art, London.This was followed by a successful tenure in the fashion industry as a menswear and womenswear designer in both Italy and the UK, working closely on an number of projects for some of the world’s most recognised designer labels -the likes of Luciano Soprani, Giorgio Armani, Bernard Wetherill Ltd (Savile Row), and Laura Ashley-, before embarking on a career in higher education.



 Lesley De Freitas 

Lesley a graduate from Central Saint Martins in Womenswear Fashion Design, has had an extensive career within fashion, starting first at BOUDICCA under the creative direction of Zowie Broach, now the head of fashion at RCA. Her career spans 16 years in both industry and education, including her eponymous brand of 8 years, developing contemporary luxury womenswear, couture bridal and evening wear, with celebrity clients and red carpet appearances at major events, such as the Olivier Awards, BAFTAs, SAGs, Cannes Film Festival etc.

She has been recognized as a talent by Vogue Italia, and having several features in influential publications such as Vogue, AnOther, Elle, LA Times, Reserved Magazine and Diane Pernet’s Paris Diary, A Shaded View of Fashion. In education, she has made valuable contributions to Widening Participation for CSM UAL, the Arts Council and Community Projects/summer schools as the leading mentor;  as an Associate Lecturer for UAL CSM and at F&HE levels for other Colleges and Universities, in the UK and Shanghai.  In addition, Lesley developed and delivered masterclasses for FutureLabs, an initiative focused on educating educators in the importance of sustainability in design education and the creative industries.


Shilanthi Abayagunawardane

Shilanthi is a skilled designer with over thirty years’ experience in designing fabrics for interiors and commercial purposes. Shilanthi studied design at the Ontario College of Arts in Canada and was awarded the Ontario College of Arts Textile Design Award in 1983. In recognition of her exceptional work in textile design, she was also offered Lily Maley Scholarship and Banff Arts Centre Scholarship. 

After returning to Sri Lanka, Shilanthi used her expertise in textile design to work with University of Moratuwa and pioneering fabric studios in the island such as Barefoot and Jewel Knits. Shilanthi teaches young fashion designers at AOD, to create exquisite and innovative textiles using traditional and modern inspirations.


Prabath Samarasooriya 

In addition to his 1st upper class in fashion design from Northumbria, Prabath also holds a diploma in jewellery design (Institute of gem and jewellery) and a certificate in CAD in jewellery design along with 3 years academic training in fine arts. After being nominated for several design awards and participating in several top fashion shows (Colombo fashion week/ Sri Lanka design festival/ Pret/ Hyderabad fashion week/ Jaipur Fashion week) Prabath has become a well-respected designer in Sri Lanka. He is also a professional illustrator, Set designer/costume designer for theatre and textile designer.




Damayanthi Wedage 

Damayanthi earned her formal education in Pattern making and grading at the Clothing Industry Training Institute. Damayanthi shared her experience at the University of Sri Jayawardenepura and National institute of Education (N I E) and at Technology transfer Programmes in Scientific Dress Making organized by IDB, NHA and Japan international co-operation Agency (J.I.C.A). Damayanthi has also been part of the National Industrial training Advisory Committee. She teaches AOD’s fashion students Techniques and Processes in Fashion helping them to better understand the technical constructions in fashion and textiles.



Ludmila Bopitiya

As a Fashion & Marketing Consultant, Ludmila comes with a decade of experience, in the apparel industry.
Her proficiency in design and fashion education alongside her expertise in teaching and coaching has put her, at the forefront of training and development as a well-reputed Professional Branding Coach. As a Nationally Certified Human Resources Trainer, her mastery is in developing Personal Brands of individuals in the corporate sector.




Samantha Weerawardane

Sam is a tutor, illustrator and graphic designer. Sam has donned a variety of occupational hats throughout her life and worn them well, from a long-running career as a creative writer/copywriter to her self-professed favourite post as a radio personality on TNL, where she presented an alternative music show once a week for 13 years up until 2019. She graduated with a BA (Hons) Graphic Design from Northumbria Univeristy and is currently reading a Master of Arts at Falmouth University. 




David Gelb

David Gelb is a visiting faculty member from the Department of Design in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design at York University, Toronto, Canada. David has taught design for more than 20 years at undergraduate and graduate degree levels for Design at York, one of North America’s top destinations for design education. As past Chairperson and Graduate Program Director, David brings his expertise in curriculum development, student thesis supervision, and university program management and planning. As a design researcher, his current projects include culturally-embedded design for teaching and learning and ethical practices in user-interface design. Over the past decade, David has been the recipient of multiple research grants focused on pedagogical affordances and digital platforms for arts-based learning. His publications include the book chapter The Design Process is a Research Process: Students and the Ethics of Inquiry, Bloomsbury Academic (2020). David’s professional practice includes user-interface design, digital branding and motion design for public installations.


Russel Miranda

Art Based Creative Consultant at DentsuGrant Group, wannabe cartoonist, amateur photographer, insomniac, and designer currently masquerading as a strategically driven creative director with over 20 years of experience since majoring in graphic design from JJ School of Art in Mumbai, India. Helped launch and brand-build the national airline, a global coffee brand, sausages, beer, jewellery, bathware, banking, telecom and social projects for Poppy Day, UNICEF, and Women in Need, to name a few. Worked in McCann Offices in Bangkok, Spain and New York. Awarded locally, internationally and still counting.



Poornima Meegammana 

Poornima has graduated with a BA( Hons) Motion Graphics and Animation from Northumbria University UK and has an Advance Diploma in Film Production from YES Film School.  Poornima is an Educator, Animator, Filmmaker and social entrepreneur, who was listed in Forbes 30 under 30 - Asia - Social Impact list this year, she is currently working as the creative director for Inzperia International and director of youth development for Shilpa Sayura Foundation.She is also an Adobe creativity scholar and Epic games - Unreal Engine Virtual Production Fellow. She has made several empathy-driven short films about social issues with topics ranging from child Soldiers, cyber Harassment, gender equality, environment etc. Her social development work focuses on increasing women's participation in emerging technology careers with Nextgen Girls in Technology initiative. Her Creative and development work has been recognised with several international awards, including Forbs 30 Under 30, Internet society 25 under 25 awards, Adobe Aspire Award, UNESCO Prize for Girls and Women’s Education, Microsoft Youth Solutions Award and featured on BBC News under "Women making Technology work for them". She is working towards empowering youth with inspiration, knowledge, skills and leadership to face 21st-century challenges through social innovations and media powered by cutting-edge technology.



Cyrus Viccaji 

Cyrus Viccaji is a media consultant, content  creator and educator with a background in Improvisational comedy, filmmaking and  photography. In all his work, he has explored his passion for shooting and editing hands-on whenever possible. He graduated from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, focusing on Design, filmmaking and photography and went on to work for Pakistan’s first English Language  news channel where produced a number of  documentaries including a 13 episode feature on Art and Culture. His current portfolio includes a number of local and multinational clients like British Council Pakistan, and Adam Smith International, for whom he has worked as a specialist in communications media for Education in Punjab and Khyber Pakhthunkhwa. He is a registered Media Consultant with Karachi Press Club.



Joel Rapp 

Joel Rapp has been involved in Sri Lankan design for over a decade, working on education, craft and rural livelihood projects in addition to starting the Interior design degree program at AOD. Through his thirty year career as a designer Mr. Rapp has worked in twenty seven countries on four continents. He has worked as the Regional Design Director for resort giant Club Mediterranee working on public space projects and installations around the globe. At the turn of the century Mr. Rapp returned to his native United States, settling in New York and becoming Design and Fabrication Director at The Displayers, Inc. where he worked on projects for clients ad diverse as The New York Historical Society, the NYPD, Maharam, and the Catholic Church. 2004 saw the opening of 315 squared Design, Mr. Rapp's private studio which produced residential design and furnishings for high-end clients in the US and Europe. He is the Author of "The Long walk Home: A Guide To Pedestrian circumnavigation" due to be published in June 2018


Darren Vazirani

Darren is a designer, 3D visualiser and maker with 14 years' industry experience, having founded an architectural visualisation studio in 2008. In 2018, he co-founded Designfocal, a multidisciplinary studio specialising in merging traditional techniques with emerging technology in the fields of design, visualisation and related education. As the studio's Technical Lead, he runs a modular production team that creates design assistive and end presentation material for architects, designers and private clients, both locally and abroad.

As a lecturer at AOD since 2011, Darren teaches various technical and mechanical skills, both traditional and digital, ranging from orthographic hand drawing to 3D visualisation software, 2D CAD drafting, industry-standard rendering engines, post-processing and layout software such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, CNC laser cutting, model making and photography, as well as Augmented and Virtual Reality presentation applications. As part of an upskill initiative with the IBM Skills Network and Macquarie University, his current research project is in collaborative AI, developing workflows for designers, educators and students to incorporate the benefits of artificial intelligence into the fields of design and design education, along with setting the guidelines of doing so ethically.



Chathuri Kannangara

Chathuri graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor's of Arts in Interior Architecture Design from the renowned Northumbria University. She leads a successful career at DDN design – one of Sri Lanka’s top interior design firms which is directed by the renowned Interior Designer and Architect Dipika Dharmadasa.




Vydarshini Chandrarajan

Vydarshini is a first class graduate of the BA (Hons) Interior Design degree programme from Northumbria University, UK. Prior to this, as an undergraduate,she obtained a world prize for legal studies, which was awarded by Pearson. 
She is the Co-founder and Creative Lead of Designfocal; a design and visualisation studio specialising in residential and hospitality design. She was also the co-author of an article focusing on globalization and regional identity that was published in the inaugural issue of the Sri Lanka Design Journal. Her work extends to include teaching the fundamentals of art and design as a fine arts educator and her areas of expertise lie in mixed media drawing and illustrations for spatial design, conceptual and experiential design exploration relating to spatial design methodologies and critical and contextual studies.



Karen Macleod 

Designer Karen Macleod first moved to Colombo to take over as principal of AOD in Colombo with the vision to make it the No 1 design school in South Asia. Now, she is a mentor to our current students as well as our graduates. Karen graduated from the Northumbria University with a first class in Fashion and Textiles. Her 25 year experience in international fashion stretches across world-class brands like Max Mara (Italy), Daniel Hechter (France), Hemisphere (Japan) and many more. Karen’s work in her own company – the designer brand ‘Mr. & Mrs. MacLeod’ together with her husband (Fashion Designer – Stuart MacLeod), which focused on luxury sportswear involved a great number of prestigious international retailers; Barney’s (New York), Joseph (London), Biffi (Milan), Belinda (Sydney) and Theresa (Munich). 

Douglas MacLennan

Douglas has worked in the world of fashion and fashion education for forty-nine years, the first three years, exclusively in Hong Kong in the world of fashion knitwear. He started his teaching career in 1972 at his old alma mater St. Martin and moved on to  Northumbria University, where he nurtured future fashion design talent until June 2016 for almost forty-four years. His graduates have progressed to companies such as Nike, Adidas, Gap, Ralph Lauren/Polo, Louis Vuitton, Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein to name but a few, or to become successful designers in their own right. Over the past thirty-eight years he has externally examined at over 35 centres of Higher Education in the UK, Spain, India and Greece. Since stepping down from full time work in 2016 his expertise has been sought in Singapore, China, India, Malaysia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka alongside his work as an Academic Trustee for the re-named charity Graduate Fashion Foundation