Frugal Making

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Frugal Making

A model wearing a necklace by artist Maria Hanson. The necklace consists of large beads and tubes in yellow, red and gold. It hangs low on the model, reaching down almost to the navel.
© Maria Hanson

Physical and Digital Making: Theory and Practice includes wide-ranging research into making and commentary on making practices, from supporting the economic re-construction of the region; through R&D for new product development; new materials, methods and experiences; discourses around authenticity; and insights regarding body adornment and augmentation.

More recent research is fore-fronting Frugal Making to sustainably address issues that are recognised global challenges as well as national and sectoral challenges. This is an area of enquiry responding to the vacillations of global economic, social, environmental and technological imperatives, seeking to bring together academics who are united through their application of creativity, critical thinking, complex problem-solving and modalities of intelligent making.

As an interdisciplinary area with a wide ranging remit, Frugal Making frames research questions around making processes, strategies and systems, global interactions, changing professional and amateur hierarchies, environmental sustainability and design education.

The foundations of this strategy can be found in the recent and ongoing research of Swann, Hanson, Reed and Atkinson et. al. who have addressed issues such as the impact of technological developments and social changes on the agency of amateur designers, to reducing adolescent maternal and neonatal deaths in Zambia through a zero-cost service intervention.

Besides these issues other research questions are to be investigated:

  • What are the future next steps for design education?
  • How do we deliver a relevant educational experience in light of current and future restrictions on the use of space and resources and a disappearing context of cohort learning?
  • How can knowledge transfer from the academy work successfully with artisans from low/ middle income countries to support sustainable development in a post-colonial context?
  • What new design methods, processes and tools might support responses to social imperatives to reduce carbon footprints, rampant consumerism and material usage?

Related staff

Paul Atkinson

Professor Paul Atkinson

Professor of Design and Design History

Paul Atkinson's profile
Maria Hanson

Maria Hanson

Reader in Metalwork and Jewellery

Maria Hanson's profile
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Dr David Swann

Professor in Design

David Swann's profile

Get in touch

Contact us to discuss facilities, partnerships, doctoral research and more

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Atkinson, P (2019) ‘Amateur Design’, in Massey, A (Ed.) A Companion to Contemporary Design Since 1945, Wiley-Blackwell

Hanson, M., Making Links: Craft value chain, funded through Research England GCRF (Global Challenge Research Fund)

Reed, H. et. al., Contextual Studies To Understand The Problems And Needs Of People Living With ALS/MND Through Stakeholder Workshops In India, Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Design4Health, Amsterdam, 1-3 July 2020

Swann, D., Life-Saving Lullabies: Reducing adolescent maternal and neonatal deaths in Zambia. (AHRC funded GCRF project in conjunction with St John Zambia)