Philippa Thorne



South Africa 2015

Mentored by:

Cathy Steen


Creative Director, Gone Rural

Connect with Philippa Thorne

Philippa Thorne is creative director for Gone Rural, a hybrid for-profit and non-profit organization that supports both artisans and their communities through health, education and empowerment programs.

Philippa arrived in Swaziland from the United Kingdom in 2001 after graduating from Central St. Martins College of Art and Design, and began work as a design intern at Gone Rural. In 2007, Philippa became the managing director at the age of 28. Despite reservations regarding her experience and leadership abilities, the World Bank and IFC granted a loan for the business. Exceeding all expectations, within three years under Philippa’s leadership, the business grew by 100% and the income of the rural women quadrupled.

Gone Rural is now one of the largest women owned/managed companies in Swaziland and is acknowledged internationally for its innovative products and design, as well as its unique model. It has been featured in design-led projects, exhibitions and collaborations; including Habitat Gallery’s ‘Platform’ initiative in London and Design Network Africa.

Mentored by:

Cathy Steen

United States of America

Trip: South Africa 2015