Material and Theoretical Practice

Research group leader:

Dr Kristina Niedderer
Tel: +44 (0)1902 32 1550

Deputy: Dr Christian Mieves
Tel: +44(0)1902 32 8542

Material and Theoretical Practice

This group brings together researchers rooted in studio-based, creative and professional practices with the aim to explore and advance different methodological and conceptual approaches through the manipulation of material in fine art, applied arts and design, including analogue and digital approaches to glass, ceramics, metals, fashion/textiles and product and interior design.

The group's scope is inter and cross-disciplinary. It encompassed a broad range of approaches, including theoretical, applied, and practice-led research for the investigation of concepts, materials and methods. Thinking through making is an important driver, using tacit knowledge generated through practice as an important source of informing research.

The group forms around two broad main foci:

Firstly, cross-disciplinary hybrid practices are used combine analogue and digital approaches to craft and design as well as psychological approaches to advance social and ecological sustainability and well-being. This focus is exemplified through applied research into design for health, specifically “designing for people with dementia”, which is conducted with European partners from health and industry.

The second focus arises from the shared history of the Fine and Applied Arts. While both have shared roots, today, among other things, they are distinguished by differing attitudes to the ornamental. This drives research into the perceived borders and boundaries of the politics of ornament through material practice to reveal and comment on the underlying politics, and to find or create synergies to question and overcome old controversies. Research in this area includes theoretical and practice-led work into concepts such as ‘ornament’ and ‘erosion’, including the organisation of national and international exhibitions and symposia, such as the symposium ‘Erosion and Illegibility of Images’.

Current projects

The European MinDProfessor Kristina Niedderer

 MinD Project banner image

This project aims to help people with dementia engage in social contexts to improve psychosocial wellbeing. People who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias often face cognitive, behavioural and psychosocial difficulties, including impairment and degeneration of memory and of perceptions of identity. In a social context, this can cause difficulties of recognizing, relating to and empathising with other people. These difficulties often pose a challenge for engaging socially, reinforcing their effects and reducing personal well-being.

Design can offer novel ways of complementing existing care approaches to empower people with dementia in everyday social situations. Utilising the concept of mindful design, we will investigate innovative design solutions to enable self-empowerment and confidence building of people living with dementia.

Research active staff

PhD students

  • Anna Borzenkova
  • Tara Baoth Mooney
  • Kathryn Partington