UoA 32 - Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

Our focus is on delivering user-inspired and applied research with impact, consistently embedding impact culture into our research activities and engaging with community through direct links with industry and civic societies.

Unit 32 submitted three impact case studies for the REF2021 submission. As a unit that values stakeholder engagement our impacts are demonstrative of this ethos, whether through curatorial strategies, access to arts and culture or user testing as part of healthcare design.

The following impact case studies have been entered for the REF2021 submission. Find out more below.


Case study: Extended Play: Enabling Transdisciplinary Dialogue between Art, Design and Architecture in Exhibitions and Publishing

EP is a collaboratively-formed book series offering a new and innovative approach to publishing and a platform for creative practices that fall between traditional understandings of art, design and architecture. By placing both leading and emerging practitioners, curators, and theorists from across art, design and architecture alongside each other, EP brings agents within the creative economy into contact for the first time, instigating new creative approaches. EP has specifically:

  • Benefited curators and gallery audiences by impacting curatorial methods in museums, galleries and biennales – specifically the V&A with a 20% increase on projected visitor figures, and the Venice Biennale. Previously unimagined exhibitions have been generated that capture typically neglected subjects, resulting in engagement with a broader audience across all three disciplines
  • Benefited prominent arts publisher Sternberg Press by impacting their editorial approach. Following EP, the embrace of a transdisciplinary range of disciplines has increased their audience in quantity and broadened it in scope, resulting in 12,000 thousand additional readers per year.


Case study: Reducing Chemotherapy-induced Hair Loss through Innovative Design: Internationally Increasing Patient Access & Wellbeing and Facilitating Rapid Commercial Growth

Chemotherapy-induced hair loss is one of the most traumatic side effects of cancer treatment, its severe implications on patient wellbeing are well-documented.  This research revolutionised the design and manufacturing process of the Paxman scalp cooling cap. The resulting award-wining product reduces/prevents hair loss during chemotherapy. Achieving regulatory approval internationally, the patented product became available in 54 countries between 2016-2020, dramatically increasing patient and clinical access to effective scalp cooling treatment, now reaching a minimum of 42,000 patients/annum.

It was designed for a global market to meet the varying needs of patients and clinicians internationally, while enhancing cap-fit, treatment efficacy & patient experience. Global impacts on patient wellbeing have resulted and awareness has increased. Yorkshire SME, Paxman, are now the global leader in scalp cooling (80% market share) and able to supply an increasing number of the world’s largest healthcare markets, promoting continued global growth with turnover quadrupling between 2015-2019.


Case study: Strengthening and sustaining a vibrant offer in a UK town: embedding a mixed ecology of culture and creativity into the high street

Kirklees local authority was listed in the highest 10% of deprived districts in the 2019 Indices of Multiple Deprivation. Like much of the UK, Kirklees is experiencing shop closures on the high street, exacerbated by the credit crunch in 2007, austerity policies and a move to online retail. Using Huddersfield town as a case study for modelling and reflecting on cultural re-development, the School of Art, Design and Architecture (ADA) at the University of Huddersfield has engaged in action research to support the conditions for creative and cultural activity and contribute to the vibrancy of the town centre.

Researchers at the University of Huddersfield worked closely with the Creative and Cultural Development team at Kirklees Council to populate approximately 40 former retail units with a two-year programme of events and activities, that continues to iterate into 2021. Impact arising from the research has included benefits to artists, creative organisations and audiences based in Huddersfield, through a more visible, vibrant and collaborative cultural offering. Further impact was achieved through changing the way that Kirklees Council envisioned creative and cultural activity, embedding collaborative working into the ‘Huddersfield Blueprint’ regeneration plan and post-Covid-19 road maps to cultural recovery.