The Design in Society group seeks to develop design principles within the multiple contexts on which design impacts.

The group is concerned with understanding the diverse ways in which design practice and theory contribute to cultural and economic sustainability. It includes the following research strands:

Design Pedagogy - This research group considers the changing nature of the design professional, together with the contexts in which they operate. It explores new models of practice, developing theoretical frameworks, which acknowledge both societal and environmental constraints, taking advantage of opportunities offered by new technologies.

Design Policy - The focus of this group’s research is developing contemporary strategies as they apply to the support of entrepreneurs in the creative industries.

Design Protocols - This group’s research is focused on developing innovation tools and methods that support ideation and theoretical frameworks that underpin different forms of innovation promoting cultural change within organisations.

Current research projects:

  • Second Skin: Co-design for advanced textiles for health and wellbeing - developing new advanced textile solutions directed at alleviating some of the most chronic medical conditions. (Malins, Steed & Stewart)
  • AHRC Knowledge Exchange Hub: Design in Action - Repositioning design as a strategic tool for innovation, building a research infrastructure that develops entrepreneurship, participatory design and design pedagogy. (Harris, Kearney, Hepburn)
  • EU FP7 ICT COnCEPT (Malins & Laing)
  • Collective Futures: Cultivating Creative Collectives (Fairburn)
  • Moving Targets (Harris)
  • Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future - ACSEF. (Harris)
  • Streetsport RGU (Craddock, Fairburn, Bugali)

Past Projects:

  • C4DI: Centre for Design and Innovation - An ERDF and Scottish Government funded initiative that developed design methods and approaches for supporting innovation within SMEs. (Malins)
  • Cultivating Creative Futures(Harris, Fairburn)
  • Scottish Craft Centre archival research - Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. (Peach)

Theme Leaders:


  • David Crossen

    Dave Crossen

    David Crossen is a design lecturer whose current research interests lie in exploring distributed generative and interactive sound compositions on mobile devices.  

  • Susan Fairburn

    Sue Fairburn

    Lecturer in design & product design. She was recently appointed Lecturer in the new Design Futures programme at Gray’s School of Art.  

  • Gemma Kearney

    Gemma Kearney

    Dr Gemma Kearney is a Lecturer in Communications, Marketing and Media and Module Co-ordinator for undergraduate modules in Management Practice and Event Tourism.  

  • Stuart MacDonald OBE

    Stuart MacDonald

    Stuart is an industrial associate/associate researcher and director of Creative Frontline, his company specialising in creativity, design and innovation.  

  • Andrea Peach

    Andrea Peach

    Contextual and Critical Studies, Design  

  • Josie Steed

    Josie Steed

    With extensive experience in the fashion and textile industry, her interests lie in traditional methods of craft making and Smart Textiles.  

  • Students:

  • Munire Hilal Bugali

    Munire Hilal Bugali

    Considering strategies and applications of ‘design for social innovation’ through collaborative design methodologies.  

  • Peter Buwert

    Peter Buwert

    Investigating into possibilities for encouraging effective socio-political engagement through the manipulation of visual culture.  

  • Melehat Nil Gülari

    Melehat Nil Gulari

    Seeking appropriate measures to evaluate the effectiveness of innovation enablers and assess the contribution of these methods and design interventions to business organisations.  

  • Leigh-Anne Hepburn

    Leigh-Anne Hepburn

    Research as part of the AHRC funded Design in Action project, which brings together businesses, designers and academics to work collaboratively using design as a strategy for innovation.