Photo of Dr Farnaz Nickpour

Dr Farnaz Nickpour PhD, MA, MIED, ProBIDA, FHEA, FRSA

Reader in Inclusive Design and Human Centred Innovation Civil Engineering and Industrial Design


Personal Statement

I am a Reader in Inclusive Design & Human Centred Innovation at The University of Liverpool, and I lead the Inclusive Design Research Lab in the UK. My work explores the critical and contemporary dimensions of design for inclusion and human centred innovation - with a core focus on Healthcare and Mobility sectors. I have a track record of excellence in research, teaching and design pedagogy, with 30+ academic publications and awards for my work as a human centred design researcher and educator. My strategic partners in Merseyside include Alder Hey Children's Hospital and Merseycare NHS Foundation Trust, where I lead interdisciplinary projects and provide consultancy on design and innovation in healthcare and mobility. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA), a Member of Institute of Engineering Designers (MIED), a Professional member of British Industrial Design Association (ProBIDA), and Scientific Advisory Board for Design for Inclusion (AHFE).

Within inclusive design, my work is centred around shifting the focus from the 'physicality' of an 'accessible experience', towards the overall 'quality' of an 'inclusive experience'. This has led to establishing a research area called Psychosocial Inclusion. My past research has resulted in developing definitions and dimensions of Psychosocial Inclusion in Design, as well as its investigation within two key contexts of personal mobility and food shopping. My current research focuses on creating a Taxonomy of Design Exclusion, as well as further investigation of concept of True Inclusion in design. Within this, I explore whether we are becoming truly more inclusive, or simply moving towards a version of inclusion which is ‘realistic’, ‘achievable’ and ‘measurable’. I question whether there is a common ground between the ideal and the real. And which vision, if any, can and should inclusive design care about.

Within Mobility sector, my work focuses on personal and public dimensions of inclusive mobility. I have undertaken projects for key mobility providers in the UK, including the TFL (inclusive public transport) and Motability (inclusive personal mobility), and led collaborations with paediatric mobility providers such as MERU (paediatric mobility). I currently lead a major strategic knowledge partnership between The University of Liverpool and Alder Hey Children's Hospital; Project MOVE (Mobility imperatiVE) is a national initiative aimed at converging design & technology excellence, clinical expertise, and market intelligence, in order to redesign the provision, manufacturing and design of a paediatric power chair in the UK which is inclusive, smart, affordable, and NHS Wheelchair services commissionable.

Within Healthcare, my work focuses on application of inclusive and human centred design principles, mindsets, and methods in developing products, services, and systems. Examples include human centred design of effective healthcare products for the NHS (DBO Commode for hospital wards, Department of Health and Design Council); care and wellbeing concepts for EU market based on a new generation of smart materials (piezo plastics and flexible organic light-emitting diodes); design of soft robotics hand rehabilitation devices for neurocognitive conditions; and humanising population health information for empathic and informed decision making. I am interested in interdisciplinary education and transdisciplinary application of Design and I currently lead an initiative on teaching Design at Medical School. The aim is to embed design within healthcare education, at the right time, and the right level. This will kick-off in 2019-20 with Design becoming part of core curriculum in MBChB Medicine and Surgery course at School of Medicine at The University of Liverpool.

My newest area of research is coined 'Design Meets Death'; within this, my aim is to reimagine both the narratives and the experiences in end-of-life, through meaning centred design and human centred innovation. My research focuses on the currently limited and disjointed contributions of design to end-of-life field, and challenges the lack of foundational research, critical knowledge base, and strategic vision. I argue, while valuable, the rush into interventional, operational and incremental contributions of design to end-of-life, is archetypal of design’s ‘problem-solving’ approach. Such reactive approach could risk obscuring the broader and potentially significant theoretical, methodological, and empirical contributions between design and end-of-life. I am interested in adopting a ‘problem framing’, 'transdisciplinary', 'systemic' approach to this fascinating emerging field, through initiating a theoretically and empirically informed critical discourse between the two fields. Some current projects include revisiting 'legacy' in the context of paediatric palliative care; and improving Advance Care Planning (ACP) practice and experience through use of visual touchopints and better design.

This well resonates with my professional work ethos:

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can, without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the centre.”
- Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano

For further queries regarding research proposals, industry collaborations, and PhD applications, please contact me at:

- HEA Fellowship, Higher Education Academy
- Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, HEA
- Doctor of Philosophy (Information Behaviour in Design)
- MA, Design Strategy and Innovation (Distinction)
- MA, Industrial Design (Distinction)
- BA, Industrial Design

- Reader (2017 - present)
- Senior Lecturer (2016-2017)
- Lecturer (2010-2016)
- Design Researcher (2008-2010)
- Teaching Assistant (2007-2008)
- Design Manager (2002-2006)