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Designers in Residence: 10 Years of Developing Directional Design Practice

Trevor Duncan and Rickard Whittingham


British design education is often bemoaned by the creative industries for failing to properly equip graduates for the ins and outs of the business of design; whilst at the same time it has become a truism of British industry that it innovates but does not make and sell. This report reflects on the Designer in Residence Scheme developed by Northumbria University, as a case study and reveals how the development of its practitioner mentoring, facilitated by collaboration between the school of design, enterprise campus and regional development agencies has contributed to both local cultural change and the building of the design sector within the North East of England.

What We Did

The Designers in Residence scheme is a 2-year post-graduate initiative designed to support Northumbria alumnae wishing to develop their own professional design practice. It is run within Northumbria University’s School of Design by BA (Hons) Three Dimensional Design staff for graduates from this programme with its professional practice being centred on the activities of furniture and product design.

Who will benefit

One of the key opportunities available to graduates who undertake the scheme is to exhibit work both nationally and internationally at trade shows.


The value of the Designer in Residence scheme is evidenced in the reputation of the designers who have been through it. They demonstrate their excellence not only in the physicality of their creative outputs but more importantly in the way that they are able to recruit support from the commercial world to profitably create and widely distribute ideas and products. Whilst in pedagogic terms the residency has contributed to a culture of undergraduates understanding the opportunities that exist within the region for design that has an international reach and profile.