Photo of Dr Farnaz Nickpour

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

Reader in Inclusive Design and Human Centred Innovation Materials, Design and Manufacturing Eng


Personal Statement

Dr Farnaz Nickpour is a Reader in Inclusive Design & Human-Centred Innovation at The University of Liverpool, and Director of The Inclusionaries Lab for Inclusive & Human Centred Design Research.

Farnaz's Design work actively targets sensitive healthcare and low-resource settings, areas of unmet need, and populations particularly disserved by innovation, aimed at advancing health, mobility and equity for disadvantaged and marginalised groups across adult and paediatric populations.

Farnaz's research is focused on advancing critical and contemporary dimensions of design for inclusion and human-centred innovation across four strategic themes:
1. Inclusive Mobility;
2. Psychosocial Inclusion;
3. Design for Palliative & End of life Care and;
4. Healthcare Innovation

Farnaz has a track record of excellence in design research, knowledge exchange and education, with 15 years of award-winning experience in leading design research and establishing strategic interdisciplinary partnerships across health and mobility sectors in the UK and internationally. She has 50+ academic publications and has been recognised for establishing award-winning design-led innovation programme in health and social care settings and taking design education beyond the Design school.

Farnaz holds key Inclusive Design positions in leading international research organisations including Scientific Committee, SIG and Chair at DRS (Design Research Society), AHFE (Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics) and CWUAAT (Cambridge Workshop on Universal Access and Assistive Technology), alongside multiple Design advisory, steering and honorary appointments in health, education and third sector in the UK, including Designer-in-Residence at Marie Curie UK and honorary researcher at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. She acts as reviewer for 10+ Design journals and conferences and is the External Examiner to the MA/MSc Global Innovation Design (GID) programme at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London (2021-2024), External Examiner to the BSc Product Design programmes at University of Brighton (2023-2025), a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA) and Member of Institute of Engineering Designers (MIED).

Within inclusive design, Farnaz's 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. Her past research has resulted in developing definitions and constructs of Psychosocial Inclusion in Design, as well as its investigation within two key contexts of personal mobility and supermarket shopping. Her current research focuses on creating a Taxonomy of Design Exclusion, as well as further investigation of concept of True Inclusion in design. Within this, Farnaz explores whether we are becoming truly more inclusive, or simply moving towards a version of inclusion which is ‘realistic’, ‘achievable’, and ‘measurable’. Questioning 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, Farnaz's work focuses on personal, public and paediatric dimensions of Inclusive Mobility. She has 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). She currently leads 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 commission-able.

Within Healthcare, Farnaz's work focuses on innovative and interdisplianry applications of inclusive and human centred design principles, mindsets, and methods in developing products, services and programmes. 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. Farnaz is interested in interdisciplinary education and transdisciplinary application of Design and currently leads an initiative on Taking Design to School of Medicine. The aim is to embed design within healthcare education, at the right time, and the right level. The programme launched 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.

Farnaz's newest area of research is coined 'Design Meets Death'; within this, her aim is to interrogate and reimagine the narratives as well as the experiences in end of life, through meaning centred design and human centred innovation. Her 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. She argues, while valuable, the rush into interventional, operational and incremental contributions of design to the 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. Farnaz proposes 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 touchpoints and better design.

"Not everything that is faced can be changed
but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
– James Baldwin

“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 Dr Nickpour 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)

Prizes or Honours

  • 2023 NWC Research and Innovation “Culture for Innovation” Award (Innovation Agency; NIHR Clinical Research Network: North West Coast (CRN:NWC) and NIHR Applied Research Collaboration: North West Coast (ARC:NWC, 2023)