Skip to content | Accessibility Information

Feeding plate - CJ O'Neill

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


Kettle, AM., 2023. Slipware, Crafts Study Centre, Farnham.

Kelly, R., Moriarty, S., Wu, D., Chu, L., Wu, E., 2022. Making Matters: China Challenge Exhibition at Manchester Metropolitan University and IM Motors, Shanghai, Manchester Metropolitan University, 1/12/2022 - 31/1/2023.

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.

Kettle, A., 2022. The Queens of Somerset House, COLLECT 2022: Somerset house, London; London Art Fair, Candida Stevens Gallery, 23/2/2022 - 27/2/2022.

Kettle, A., 2022. Threads : Looping back and moving forwards and in between., Manchester School of Art.

Kettle, A., 2021. Threadbound, Candida Stevens Gallery, 16/10/2021 - 12/6/2022.


Royal Academy Summer Exhibition: Print - Beneath The EdgeImaginary Worlds

Whadcock, IJ., 2023. 'Imaginary Worlds.', Oriel Davies Gallery Newtown Powys Wales..

Mann, G., 2023. 'Poise'.

Mann, G., 2023. 'The Leith Pattern'.

Mann, G., 2023. 'The Second Line'.

Kettle, A., 2022. 'Flight Lines', Zhejiang Art Museum, Hangzhou, China.

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

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

Egan, K., 2021. 'Future Stitch'.

Mulhearn, E., Eleanor, M., 2021. 'InsideOutsideHouse', UK.

Niedderer, K., Craven, M., Gosling, J., Orton, L., 2021. 'Mindful Co-design for Dementia toolkit', Manchester Metropolitan University.


Tournier, I., Orton, L., Niedderer, K., 2022. 'My I Can Do Pathway Guide and Workbook', Manchester Metropolitan University.

Williams, L., 2022. 'The Odyssey', Hamish Hamilton.

Book Chapters

Beecroft, M., 2021. '3D Printed Material'. In Richardson, E., Garside, P. (eds.) Conservation Science: Heritage Materials, Royal Society of Chemistry.


Marinucci, S., 2022. 'Artisan Voices: dialogues for sustainable practices', The British Council.

Kelly, R., Marinucci, S., Sethi, R., Lombana, M., 2022. 'Crafting Futures: exploración del ecosistema en Argentina', Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Facultad de Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Diseño.

Orton, L., Niedderer, K., 2021. 'A guide to Mindful Scenario Task Analysis', MinD - Designing for People with Dementia.

Kelly, R., Marinucci, S., Sethi, R., 2021. 'Crafting Futures Argentina Research Report', British Council.

Journal Articles

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.

Mayo, N., O'Neill, C-J., 2023. 'Flightlines: conversations about life with clay', NCECA Journal, 43, pp. 158-161.

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.

Kettle, A., 2023. 'Tying the knots', Craft Research, 14 (1), pp. 139-152.

Hackney, F., Setterington, L., 2022. 'Crafting with a purpose: How the 'work' of the workshop makes, promotes and embodies well-being', Journal of Applied Arts & Health, 13 (3), pp. 307-324.

Kelly, R., 2022. 'Creating Paradise Through a Palimpsest of Textile Higher Education and Community-Based Research', TEXTILE, 20 (1), pp. 39-54.

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

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.

Lim, JNW., Niedderer, K., Tournier, I., Almeida, R., Harrison, D., Holthoff-Detto, V., Ludden, G., van Rompay, T., van der Voort, M., Galansinska, A., Smith, T., Lasada, RL., Bueno, YA., Druschke, D., Ziebuhr, B., Zanasi, M., 2021. 'Assessing the generalisability of a multicentre qualitative dementia research: the experience and challenges faced by the MinD project in Europe', Open Research Europe, 1, pp. 64-64.

Townsend, K., Niedderer, K., 2021. 'Craft as a meeting place', Craft Research, 12 (1), pp. 3-8.

Niedderer, K., Townsend, K., 2021. 'Craft between tradition and adaptation', Craft Research, 12 (2), pp. 175-181.

Fels, D., Blackler, A., Niedderer, K., 2021. 'Does bouncy equal happy? Comparing user's interpretations of emotions conveyed by one designed moving object based on the soma-semiotic framework.', Appl Ergon, 96, pp. 103463-103463.

Spruce, J., Moriarty, S., Thomas, P., 2021. 'From sharing screens to sharing spaces', Design and Technology Education, 26 (4), pp. 96-111.

Zhang, W., Walker, S., Evans, M., Bennett, J., 2021. 'Inheritors of the Yellow River: The relationship of heritage making practices to cultural self-confidence in China', International Journal of Anthropology and Ethnology, 5 (1).

Collaborative Spatial Design Projects

Spruce, J., 2021. 'Reflections on a Project-based Approach to Work-related Learning in Spatial Design', The International Journal of Design Education, 15 (1), pp. 101-117.

Kelly, R., Fruebing, S., 2021. 'Whose futures need crafting? A collaborative evaluation of the British Council/Crafts Council Crafting Futures 5K grant scheme', Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 20 (1), pp. 103-114.

Conference Papers

Kelly, R., Moriarty, S., Perry, P., 2022. 'A conversation with Making Matters China Design Challenge and winners and Education Specialists', Making Matters, Online, 16/12/2022.

Spruce, J., Moriarty, S., 2022. 'A SLIGHT RETURN: DEVELOPING AN AUGMENTED DESIGN STUDIO PEDAGOGY', 24th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, London South Bank University, London, UK, 8/9/2022 - 9/9/2022, in DS 117: Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2022), London South Bank University in London, UK. 8th - 9th September 2022.

Niedderer, K., 2022. 'An overview of current practices and approaches to co-designing services with and for people with dementia towards developing a framework for best practice', DRS2022: Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain, 25/6/2022 - 3/7/2022, in Proceedings of DRS.

Orton, L., 2022. 'Are stereotypes, such as the 'headclutcher', in stock images for mental illness stigmatizing?', DRS2022: Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain, 25/6/2022 - 3/7/2022, in Proceedings of DRS, pp. 1-17.

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.

Tournier, I., Dening, T., Orton, L., Niedderer, K., 2022. 'IDoService project: using a co-design approach to facilitate participation in meaningful activities for people living with mild dementia', 32nd Alzheimer Europe conference, Bucharest, Romania, 17/10/2022 - 19/10/2022.

Morfill, S., Cavic, A., Michailidis, T., 2021. 'I am not listening: the poem object as hybrid publication', 9th International Digital Storytelling Conference 2021: "Storytelling for a Just Future", Online - hosted by Loughborough University, 21/6/2021 - 22/6/2021.


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