Dr Mark Evans, Loughborough Design School, UK Photo
Segal Seminar Series

Dr Mark Evans, Loughborough Design School, UK

March 27, 2012, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center
1.350 (ITW Classroom)
2133 Sheridan Rd. Evanston , IL 60208

Ivory Towers and Crystal Balls: Academic Research and its Impact on the Future of Design and Designing


The impartial and transparent nature of academic research has the capacity to step back from commercial practice to explore and disseminate the “what ifs?” and “how cans?” of design and designing. When compared with the non-vocational and more established academic disciplines of science and engineering, design research is in its infancy but momentum is starting to develop, particularly in Europe. The presentation introduces Loughborough Design School in the UK which has over 500 undergraduate and masters industrial design students and 75 PhD candidates. It explores the nature of academic design research and discusses how outcomes can contribute to practice and design knowledge through PhD and group/centre-based research. Contextualisation and impact is demonstrated with an overview and case study for each of the 7 research groups/centres through which the 65 faculty members and research staff specialise in Sustainable Design; Design Practice; Design Ergonomics; Environmental Ergonomics; User Centred Design; Transport Safety; and Design Education. The individual case studies explore research that has resulted in:

  • A design for high visibility markings that has been adopted by emergency vehicles around the world (User-Centred Design Research Group)
  • Tools to enhance collaboration between industrial designers and engineering designers that has been adopted by the Industrial Designers Society of America and Royal Academy of Engineering (Design Practice Research Group)
  • A web tool to reduce the environmental and social impacts of products by moderating user interaction (Sustainable Design Research Group)
  • A collision avoidance system for motorcycles (Transport Safety Research Centre)
  • Recommendations for heavy goods vehicle cab design to increase visibility (Design Ergonomics Research Group)
  • A national specification for emergency ambulance transport resulting in a national specification for the National Health Service (Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre)
  • Support for the learning and teaching of design from age 5 to 18 (Design Education Research Group)


Dr Mark Evans is a senior lecturer in industrial design and leader of the Design Practice Research Group, with interest in design methods, digital tools and practice-based research. He has undertaken design consultancy for clients that include British Airways, Unilever, British Gas and Honda; and received research funding from organisations that include the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA); Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Hewlett Packard and Royal Academy of Engineering. Research activity has resulted in over 100 academic publications; supervision/examination of 18 PhD candidates; membership of the AHRC Peer Review College; and appointment as an International Scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Recent collaboration with the Industrial Designers Society of America has resulted in the production of the globally distributed 'iD Cards design' tool which were a finalist in the 2011 International Design Excellence Awards.

Contact Walter Herbst at 847-467-3375 or w-herbst@kellogg.northwestern.edu for further questions.