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Research at the School of Design.

Northumbria School of Design hosts the following research groups; Design Issues (Critical Design Discourses), Design Innovation and Research Methods, and Design Making:

Design Issues:
This research group addresses complex social and cultural issues from a critical design perspective. These issues are usually inter-dependent and work often transcends several sectors or disciplines, exploring emerging trends with uncertain outcomes.

Our research is highly collaborative in nature and involves critical and contextual design reflection, discussion and writing. We work in partnership with organisations on themes such as: social care issues with the Carers Centre Newcastle and Alzheimer’s Scotland; socio-economic challenges with Newcastle YMCA and Traidcraft and mental health issues with North East Together mental health network and the Scottish Mental Health Research Network. Current academic partners include Aberdeen University, the London School of Economics and Edinburgh University.

Design Innovation and Research Methods:
Academics in this group focus on two distinct research challenges: examining ways of innovating and creating value across society by applying design-led innovation thinking and creative practices and; deriving better research methods to support the work of designers in context. 

Both challenges involve our researchers directly engaging with real problems as design practitioners, where they either apply and/or examine the impact of design-led innovation, the tools and processes used and the ways in which organisations can work together to generate innovation. This work may involve design-led innovation within the industrial and commercial sector, such as design's strategic role in corporate innovation and creativity in product manufacturing and service organisations. Our work also employs innovation within the public and third sectors, tackling a range of social issues. This includes research into whether the design of public and community services can be used to improve public organisations and how collaborative designing with communities can be used to engender a sense of empowerment amongst their stakeholders.

Design Making:
The Design Making research group concerns materials and the cultural value and technology benefits of making in society. It includes researchers working as design practitioners in the Product, Industrial, Interaction, Service, Textile, Craft, Fashion and Interior design disciplines, using their discipline knowledge to address intellectual challenges across a wide variety of real-world problems and contexts. These include design making to explore the application of new and advanced material technologies and entrepreneurial design making, which often results in the development of design-led spin-out ventures.  

Our work aims to bring the act of making to centre-stage as design research, focusing on its artefacts, processes, and practices and recording and reflecting research through design projects. The outcomes of our projects include descriptions of technical applications, methods, processes and insights emerging from designing, as well as the actual products and artefacts. These descriptions help us to better understand the provenance and opportunity of design making research to address particular problems and contexts of concern.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.


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