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At Northumbria School of Design we conduct design-led research with an emphasis on practice, understanding and redefining problems, and making positive real-world change.

Much of our research in the School of Design is built on long-term collaborations with citizens and communities, and includes partnerships with a range of non-profit, public and commercial partners. While our research is diverse in nature, the School has three research themes that much of our work aligns with. They are:

Design + Wellbeing: Our research explores the ways artefacts, services and systems can promote wellbeing, as well as research that explores the benefits to wellbeing that comes from engaging in making, collaborative design and creative practice.

Design + Business and Publics: Our research with businesses and publics explores the ways design processes, methods and techniques can lead to innovative new ideas and value creation for organisations and society. Research in this theme examines design within the industrial and commercial sector, such as design's strategic role in responsible corporate innovation and creativity in product manufacturing and service organisations, and design’s role in facilitating innovation across disciplines. 

Design + Making and Materials: Our research on making and materials concerns materialities, the cultural value and benefits of making in society, and the effects emerging technologies and materials may have on design, making and craft practices.

These themes are underpinned by strengths in core areas of design expertise which include craft futures, design fiction, fashion cultures, human-computer interaction, participatory design, responsible innovation, service design and social design.

We bring researchers, design professionals and our external collaborators together in a number of ways, both within the University as research groups, and outside Northumbria through running forums and events that aim to develop and grow networks. Our initiatives in the School of Design include: CoCreate, a multi-disciplinary research group with an emphasis on participatory forms of research and social and interaction design; the Digital Disruption Network, a research network where organisations and academics invent the future of digital technology together; and the Northumbria DESIS Lab part of the global DESIS network of design schools working to promote and deliver design-led social innovation for sustainability.

Northumbria School of Design established the Research Through Design conference series and the Design and Semantic of Form and Movement (DeSForM) conference series and is a key constituting member of Northumbria's Practice Research Group.

Our research is a key contributor to Northumbria’s Multidisciplinary Research Themes (MDRT) which brings together expertise from across the University to address the pressing regional, societal and global challenges of this century and beyond. We work closely with the Human and Digital Design, Integrated and Social Care, and Global Development Futures MDRTs.

Explore our range of projects and collaborations on our dedicated Northumbria Design Research website.


Dive into the research topics where Design Department is active. These topic labels come from the works of this organisation's members. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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