Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

The Art and Design subject area draws together researchers located in Textiles, Visual Art, Design Theory and Material Culture, with Product Design colleagues in the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment.


Research Contact: Professor Jake Kaner

Our researchers include practitioners and theorists. Relationships that exist between their approaches mean we can develop future-orientated work that addresses the challenges that face culture and society, particularly in relation to consumption and sustainability, well-being and regional heritage. This builds on strong regional, national and international links that have resulted in collaborations with the V&A, Nottingham Contemporary and the World Event Young Artists 2012.

The work of the subject area includes:

  • developmental research work in technical textiles
  • design for medical applications
  • research in sustainable design and material culture that applies social science methods, history of design, and research embedded in critically engaged art and craft practice.

Research groups and centres

The Art and Design subject area centres its research around a number of Centres and Groups:

The research centres attached to this area are detailed below:

The Advanced Design and Manufacturing Engineering Centre conducts research in product innovation and development supported by design, manufacture and multi-disciplinary engineering technologies. Our major research areas include Product Design, Technology for Sustainability, Advanced Manufacturing Design, and Web and Internet Technologies.

The Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (CIE-MAP) has been designed to have a major impact in promoting changes in policy and practice which endeavours to help to reduce the nation's consumption of energy. Nottingham Trent University's research will cover a range of themes, including attitudes towards product lifetimes, the extent to which the price is a reliable indicator of quality, why and how products depreciate in value, and how to encourage repair rather than replacement.

The research groups that sit broadly within this subject area are detailed below:

The Advanced Textiles research group works closely with art and fashion colleagues, and has moved and grown within the School since its creation. Some areas of our research activity include; the development of smart yarns by embedding semiconductor dice in yarns, advanced knitted and woven structures, knitted, heated textiles, flexible fabric antennae for communication systems, and electronically-active textiles for medical and automotive applications.

Art Research is the on-going activity carried out by the Fine Art staff and technicians at NTU. It engages in innovative forms of artistic research and also provides provision for the integration of research-based teaching and study. The group reflects the breadth of practices within the research area of interdisciplinary Fine Art, where activities are currently grouped under three main interconnected themes: the trans-decorative, open curriculum, and spatial practices.

The Digital Craft and Embodied Knowledge research group reflects it's focus on the relationship between craft and embodied knowledge and how these combined elements inform the advancement of digital practice. Research projects undertaken by the group aim to develop craft based methodological frameworks for investigating and extending the scope of new design, visualisation and manufacturing technologies.

The Global Cultures of Textiles and Dress group aims to promote research in textiles and dress that addresses a wide range of critical and practice-based themes. Textiles and dress are part of daily human experience and yet their familiarity belies complex social, cultural and historical circumstances. A major focus of the Group’s work is to explore the significance and meaning of textiles and dress across cultures and time, and to contextualise them as aspects of material and visual culture.

The Lace Heritage group has built a strong team of experts in Lace History and Contemporary Creative Practice able to deliver innovative cross-disciplinary research, which informs design education and teaching locally, nationally and internationally. Our aim is to deepen an understanding of the importance of the lace industry in forming local and regional identities, and to inspire innovative creative practices for future economic and cultural benefits.

The Medical Design Research Group is an interdisciplinary group, which brings together a wide range of academics, clinicians, surgeons, healthcare companies and other medical professionals whose interests focus on medical product design across a wide range of research specialisms. These include wearable technologies, additive and subtractive manufacturing for medical applications, biomimetics, surgical robotics, augmented/virtual/immersive technologies and environments, and investigative research related to the utilisation of ‘smart materials’ for medical applications.

Sustainable Consumption is a multidisciplinary research group that focuses on people's influence on sustainability as users of products and services, ranging from consumer durables and clothing to buildings. Members apply theoretical and practical knowledge from design and related disciplines to environmental and social sustainability, often integrating expertise in design with research frameworks drawn from the social sciences.

The following case studies are linked to this subject area:

Still need help?

Jake Kaner
+44 (0)115 848 8131