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Northumbria Pro Vice-Chancellor honoured with design award

19th May 2017

Northumbria University Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Kyffin is set to receive a prestigious award recognising his outstanding contributions in the field of design.

Steven, who is Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business and Enterprise) at Northumbria, has been nominated to receive the prestigious ‘Support Inspire, Achieve’ Award by the Institution of Engineering Designers (IED) in recognition of his work encompassing academic learning, research and industrial practice; in particular, his decision to commit to contributing to the leadership of the design discipline from within the academic context.

Previous winners of the Support, Inspire and Achieve Award have included such eminent designers as Dyson’s billionaire inventor Sir James Dyson; Apple’s Chief Design Officer Sir Jonathan Ive; British industrial designer Sebastian Conran, Formula 1 engineer, Adrian Newey and Sir Alex Moulton, best known for designing automotive suspension systems and starting a revolution in small-wheeled lightweight bicycles.

Steven graduated from Northumbria University in 1981 with a first class honours in Design for Industry. During his undergraduate degree his energy and tenacity in tackling the most ambitious of projects was renowned. He continued his education at the Royal College of Art, London, where he gained his Master of Design.

Following graduation, he joined the London consultancy scene and started his own consultancy and in the late 1980s he was invited back to the Royal College as Programme Leader for Industrial Design, later becoming the School’s Director. This marked the start of his longstanding contribution to design research and education in the academic context.

Steven joined Royal Philips Electronics in the Netherlands in 1998 where, as Senior Director of Design Research and Innovation, he was responsible for design research worldwide. As a member of the Philips Design Global Management Team, Steven headed up Philips Design's European Commission research activities and led Philips Design's University Relations Programme, through which he supported many University lead Research programmes in Europe, Asia and the US.

He returned to Northumbria School of Design as Dean of the School in January 2010 following a successful period of senior leadership in industry after he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University the previous year for his outstanding contribution to design research and innovation.

Steven will receive his award at the IED’s annual awards ceremony in London on the 8th July 2017.

Speaking before the event, he said: “I imagine I am in a rare position, where I have spent a number of years working in professional practice; private consultancy; corporate strategic design leadership, as well as in the academic education and research contexts. I have always tried to connect the three worlds in enabling this amazing discipline to contribute to creating a ‘better’ future in all its different ways.

“So, it’s fantastic that, perhaps, the IED has recognised the importance positioning design as one of our strategic leads in the search for both cultural and economic growth.

“I am humbled to be in the company of such esteemed designers who have previously won this award for such huge contributions through their practice. I am committed to continue to help provide the energy and leadership to guide the design discipline into the future through the Academic context”.

The Support, Inspire, Achieve Awardee, who is presented with the Gerald Frewer Memorial Trophy, is made annually for outstanding contributions in the field of engineering design, design management, education and training or design philosophy. 

Gerald C. Frewer died prematurely in April 1978 at the age of 56.  He was a practising designer at the Kennedy Space Centre, and was known to most IED members through his lectures and articles on the American Space Programme, to which he contributed from the early days of Project Apollo through to the Space Lab and the early years of the Shuttle Project. He left a gift to the IED to finance the award.

Northumbria’s design programmes, ranked 9th in the UK in the 2018 Guardian University League Table, are delivered internationally, with partnerships including the BINUS-Northumbria School of Design in Indonesia and the Academy of Design in Sri Lanka. Partners include household names such as Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Abercrombie & Fitch, Microsoft, Mars, Dunhill, Mulberry, Samsung, Phillips, Nike and Intel.

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