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Design Research Hub

The Design Research Hub is focused on the production and dissemination of high quality research in design at Manchester School of Art.

The Design Research Hub encourages and supports both leading and and new researchers who are exploring the theories and practices of a diverse range of design and craft based activities. It consists of, and encourages collaboration between academics, researchers and practitioners drawn from a breadth of disciplinary specialisms including ceramics, glass, textiles, graphic design, illustration, interior and product design. Key themes and interests are

Community, Culture & Heritage, including social and cultural engagement with diverse cultures and their heritage, in particular with marginalised and displaced groups. More…

Design for Mental Health and Wellbeing, including the application of design to support people living with mental health, dementia and disability as well as addressing stigma, to improve social engagement, agency and quality of life. More…

Design driven innovation and speculative design, including working with businesses to facilitate design-led innovation leading to improved social and economic benefit.

Making and Materiality, including technical, material or process innovation to enable the creative and practical development of novel solutions in both analogue and digital areas. More…

Underpinning these four themes, there are two further trans-disciplinary areas

Sustainable Design, in acknowledgement of all design interventions having an effect on our natural environment, resource limitations and climate change, which therefore need to be considered in all undertakings

Design Education and the development of its teaching practices are essential to grow tomorrows cohort of ethical and responsible designers able to follow a publicly engaged, collaborative, interdisciplinary and challenge-led approach.

Researchers in this group are engaged in exploring all of the diverse range of the practices, theories, histories, and languages of design. The aims of the centre are to examine the role of design, in its diversity of forms, and to recognize, evaluate and profile its significance. The objectives of the centre are to disseminate designs past, present and future, through the production of a range of works and through many mediums. Our researchers are engaged in the production of objects, books, exhibitions, papers, and many other research initiatives and projects. The centre encourages interaction between subject areas, academic and practice-led projects, and institutional collaboration. It is an intersection between researchers and practitioners, academics and teachers, and a hub for positive exchange and creative production.

Watch four short videos about the Research Hub themes – Community, Culture and Heritage, Design Driven Innovation, Design for Health and Wellbeing, Making and Materiality.

Selected Projects

Responding to migration and social injustice by working with refugees on textile art projects to promote cross-cultural understanding.

Empowering people living with dementia through cultural and creative activities.

Understanding and supporting the sustainability of collaborative artisan crafts in Argentina.

Promoting strategic design as a driver of innovation and improvement in all sectors and industries across the UK.


Exhibitions & Publications


, 2024. .

Kettle, AM., 2024. Slipware, Crafts Study Centre, Farnham.

Notes For a Performance - (Re) visioning A RitualNotes for a Performance - (Re) visioning A Ritual

, 2023. .

Rooney, J., 2023. "Metamorphosis" a piece included in the "In Case You Missed It" Exhibition at the Modernist Society, The Modernist Gallery Manchester, 3/11/2023 - 24/12/2023.

, 2022. .

Jenkinson, J., Khan, F., Earnshaw, J., Kettle, A., Wahid, M., 2022. Reclaiming the Narrative: Portrait Youth, British Muslim Heritage Centre, 22/10/2022 - 27/10/2022.


Royal Academy Summer Exhibition: Print - Beneath The EdgeImaginary Worlds

Whadcock, IJ., 2024. 'Imaginary Worlds.', Oriel Davies Gallery Newtown Powys Wales..

Mann, G., 2024. 'Poise'.

Mann, G., 2024. 'The Leith Pattern'.

Mann, G., 2024. 'The Second Line'.

Rooney, J., 2023. 'Cap 1 A Modular Typeface.',

Broadbent, S., Davidson, P., 2022. 'Global Patterns', Rochdale.

Egan, K., 2022. 'Out of Place'.

Broadbent, S., 2022. 'Pilgrim Porch', Chester Cathedral.


, 2023. .

Book Chapters

Zhang, W., Walker, S., Evans, M., Humphreys, P., 2023. ''The Located Making Framework' for Sustainable Enterprise'. In Zsolnai, L., Walker, T., Shrivastava, P. (eds.) Value Creation for a Sustainable World: Innovating for Ecological Regeneration and Human Flourishing, pp. 153-186, Palgrave Macmillan.

, 2022. .


British Council, IM Motors, 2022. 'Making Matters: China Challenge Project Review Film for Exhibition_November 2022'.

Data Sets

Orton, L., Tournier, I., Niedderer, K., Threfall, S., 2024. 'Ido Service project - work package one data'.

Orton, L., Tournier, I., Niedderer, K., Threlfall, S., 2023. 'Ido Service project - work package two data'.


, 2022. .

Journal Articles

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Niedderer, K., Townsend, K., 2023. 'Editorial: Shifting craft's horizons: From individual makers to post-anthropocentric models of co-production', Craft Research Journal, 14 (1), pp. 3-8.

Niedderer, K., Tournier, I., Orton, L., Threlfall, S., 2023. 'I Can Do: Co-Designing a Service with and for People with Dementia to Engage with Volunteering', Social Sciences, 12 (6), pp. 364-364.

Niedderer, K., Townsnd, K., Potter, G., 2023. 'Making: Place, material and metaphor', Craft Research, 14 (2), pp. 191-198.

, 2022. .

Niedderer, K., Townsend, K., 2022. 'Editorial: Nature as source and inspiration for materials and making', Craft Research Journal, 13 (1), pp. 3-8.

Setterington, L., 2022. 'The Grenfell Memorial Quilt',

Walker, S., Evans, M., Zhang, W., Humphreys, P., 2022. 'The located making framework for supporting craft maker enterprises in China', The Design Journal, 25 (6), pp. 976-996.

Niedderer, K., Holthoff-Detto, V., van Rompay, TJL., Karahanoglu, A., Ludden, GDS., Almeida, R., Durán, RL., Aguado, YB., Lim, JNW., Smith, T., Harrison, D., Craven, MP., Gosling, J., Orton, L., Tournier, I., 2022. 'This is Me: Evaluation of a boardgame to promote social engagement, wellbeing and agency in people with dementia through mindful life-storytelling', Journal of Aging Studies, 60, pp. 100995-100995.

Conference Papers

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O'Neill, C-J., Mayo, N., 2023. 'Flightlines: Lives lived with clay', International Ceramics Festival 2023, University of Aberystwyth, 30/6/2023 - 2/7/2023.

Academic Development Blog SiteTesting The Field FilmIkebana Workshop with Educator Project Unit X Students 2017Middlewood Trust Collaborative Field Ikebana 2017

, 2022. .

Morfill, S., Giles, S., 2022. 'Drawing Descriptions: revealing dynamic lines of gesture through drawing', International Society of Gesture Studies Conference 2022 - Gesture: from description to application, Loyola University Chicago, 13/7/2022 - 15/7/2022.


, 2022. .

Morfill, S., Giles, S., 2022. 'Synchronising Hand and Thought: Gesture, Language and Drawing', Keller Center, University of Chicago / online.


Ikebana Workshop with Unit X Students 2016Ikebana Workshop with Unit X Students 2016Ikebana Poster

, 2024. .

Theses and Dissertations

, 2022. .