Bristol and Bath by Design

The major research project, Bristol and Bath by Design, brings together experts from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), University of Bristol and Bath Spa University, working in collaboration with West of England Design Forum (WEDF), Bristol Media, Creative Bath, The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and REACT, to draw on expertise in design, creative arts, business and law, and mechanical engineering.

They will work together to undertake the first comprehensive analysis of design in the region.  

This project was initiated by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Design Council. The Bristol and Bath area was selected for the study because it is a creative hotspot with strengths in the creative and digital economy. Together they offer a distinct regional focus with a population of 1.1 million people. Further, each city has particular specialisms in which design is a vital element, for example aerospace and defence design, animation, gaming and media in Bristol, and architecture, publishing and graphic design in Bath.

Project aim

The principal aim of the project will be to provide a detailed analysis of the economic and cultural value of the design-led sector in the Bristol and Bath region, by deploying both quantitative and qualitative methods. This analysis will reveal how the complex design ecology of the Bristol/Bath region works and its importance to the regional and national economy.

This central aim has four subsidiary objectives:

  • An evidence based and systematic account of how creative design networks produce value for participants and regional economies.
  • A transferable methodology for mapping and evaluating design led enterprises in any region.
  • Improved data that will enable partner organisations to understand their economic and cultural value.
  • Recommendations for how regional and central authorities can support and strengthen regional design-led creative ecologies, acknowledging future challenges and skill requirements.

Project scope

This research partnership is uniquely positioned to analyse the ways in which design contributes to growth and innovation in and across different sectors because of the subject expertise, geographic positioning, collaborative partnerships between institutions, and extensive active partner networks. This will have clear benefits in a range of disciplines including:

  • Art
  • Design and crafts disciplines
  • Engineering
  • Aerospace
  • Product and packaging design
  • Multidisciplinary design
  • Animation
  • Motion graphics
  • Media and publishing design
  • Heritage
  • Architecture and landscape design
  • Fashion and textile design
  • Designer-makers

This bid seeks to map the contribution of these academic design disciplines to industry moving beyond data on volume of companies, employees and income to undertake a comprehensive analysis that encompasses the social and historical value and impact of design in the Bristol and Bath region.

This mapping and analysis of the region's interconnected design networks of companies and individuals will provide transparent pathways for HEIs to engage effectively with industry in terms of research and knowledge exchange opportunities, practice-based programme design and enhancement, and regional talent development and retention.

Importantly, the collaborative project fosters sharing of best practice, resources and expertise between the region's institutions leading in design education. Beneficial to design researchers both locally and nationally, the project will contribute to the academic design field providing the relevance of practice-based design research to the economy and will demonstrate how the HEIs institutions are an integral part of the design landscape in the region.

Project partners

 Arts and Humanities Research Council  Design Council  
 UWE Bristol  Bath Spa University University of Bristol
 West of England Design Forum  Bristol Media  Creative Bath
 West of England Local Enterprise Partnership  Research and Enterprise in Arts and Creative Technology  

Project members

Principal investigator: Professor Stephen Hoskins, Hewlett Packard Professor and Director, Centre for Fine Print Research, UWE Bristol

Co-investigator: Adrienne Noonan, Associate Head of Department, School of Art and Design, UWE Bristol

Co-investigator: Professor Jon Dovey, Director, REACT, UWE Bristol

Co-investigator: Professor Don Webber, Bristol Business School, UWE Bristol

Co-investigator: Associate Professor Glenn Parry, Bristol Business School, UWE Bristol

Co-investigator: Professor Chris McMahon, Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Bristol

Co-investigator: Professor Anita Taylor, Dean of Bath School of Art and Design, Bath Spa University

Co-investigator: Professor Graham McLaren, Head of Department of Design and Critical Studies, Bath School of Art and Design, Bath Spa University

Research Fellow: Dr Kayla Rose, Design History, Bath Spa University

Research Associate: Dr Pei-Ling Liao, Creative Clusters, UWE Bristol

Research Associate: Ellen Hughes, Oral Histories, UWE Bristol

Project Officer: Jess Hoare, UWE Bristol

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