Inside

Design Products Research

Most research in the Design Products programme – by staff and students – is practice-led. There are currently three PhD students on the programme, and one research associate.

Current or Recent Areas of Research

Research is carried out according to the main themes that also underpin the MA programme:

Networked Design

Whether engaged in communities on a local level or in an international movement, designers within networks are playing an ever-increasing role in the design and development of the made world. This space explores new links between producer and consumer, opportunities for custom product creation at all scales of manufacture, intelligent and networked objects, the creation of 'Open Designs' and the potential for ad hoc networks to create and develop products.

The Making of Things

Product in the vernacular of design normally denotes a physical object. This theme is concerned with the information, processes, methods, materials, tools and spaces that can be used to make physical products. Key to this is learning through experimentation, making things to make things, understanding the properties and meaning of materials while pushing the potential of manufacturing processes or the creation of new ways of making.

Designing Things Better

From the extraction of virgin resources, the processing of materials, the transportation of goods and the inevitable end of a product’s useful life there can be significant negative consequences to a wide range of ecosystems. This theme attempts to tackle the challenge of what can be done to make better things or make things better, whether that be through design for disassembly, design for repair, design of more meaningful products, the selection or creation of better materials, or the creation of systems that keep hold of valuable materials for future generations.

Human Culture

The relationships people have with objects can be very complex as objects can speak to us of culture, status, gender, class, location, ability, capability and personal identity. This theme is focussed on understanding people, their needs, desires and aspirations. As well as the context that products operate in and the significance and value they hold.

New Notions & Actions From New Technology

Questioning and exploring new applications of current technology as well as developing rich and engaging visions of future technological products. This theme embraces the new by pushing beyond the imagined future to one that can be designed. Outcomes can be at all scales from a singular specific context or global application.

Current projects include

  • Future Makespaces in Re-Distributed Manufacturing, funded by EPSRC Re-Distributed Manufacturing programme (EP/M017591/1) (£465,000).  
  • A £187k ‘spoke’ on the University of Nottingham's Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute (EP/G065802/1), funded by the RCUK Digital Economy Programme.
  • Prototyping Open Innovation Models for ICT-Enabled Manufacturing in Food and Packaging (EP/K014234/1), funded by the EPSRC Future ICT-enabled manufacturing – cross-disciplinary research clusters initiative.

Recently concluded projects include

  • Stories of User Appropriation (AH/K00266X/1), a £250k commissioned project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council Creative Economy Knowledge Exchange initiative.
  • User Innovation Communities: Digital Tools for Cultural Production (EP/I032061/1), a £300K project funded by the RCUK Digital Economy Programme 'Research in the Wild' scheme.