Professor Peter Ford

Job: Professor of Design - Head of Commercial Design

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Design

Research group(s): Design and New Product Development, The Design Unit - Design Research and Consultancy

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 207 8786




Personal profile

Peter Ford graduated from Leicester Polytechnic in 1983 to join the London based product design group BIB (Butler, Isherwood and Bartlett). Peter worked on a wide range of international products for companies such as Ferguson, Duracell, BT, BOC Ohmeda, Minolta and many more.

In 1987 he joined the Leicester based product design group Jones Garrard (designers of the Eurostar) as associate director responsible for the design of consumer products, medical devices and capital equipment, adding companies such as Pfizer, Black and Decker, Gent, 3M and Unilever to his repertoire.

Peter joined De Montfort University in 1991 as a senior lecturer in Product Design helping develop the multi award winning (Dyson, Addis, BASF, RSA) BA and BSc Product Design courses to their current status. He continues to tutor on these courses in addition to Masters and Higher Degree supervision.

In response to demand from industry, Peter formed the De Montfort University Design Unit (a design research and currently group currently consisting of 8 staff) in 1992, initially undertaking projects for British Nuclear Fuels, DA Systems and Reckitt and Coleman. To date the group has also undertaken work for companies such as Guinness, Adidas, the Pentland Group, British Telecom, Oxford Instruments and many more. This design research and innovation activity for private sector companies is currently ongoing; at present the group is undertaking work in the UK, Finland, Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic.   

In 2003 the Design Unit commenced its first Regional Design support programme entitled Improving Business by Design (IBBD), a scheme to help SME’s make better use of design in their business strategies. Enlisting the assistance of local design groups, the project was highly successful resulting in the creation of over 30 jobs and a significant increase in GVA into the East Midlands.

Improving Business by Design was followed by the establishment of the New Product Development Centre in 2006 and the first of the groups Resource Efficiency in Design (RED) support programmes.

In 2008 the group was commissioned to undertake a design pilot scheme for the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), a design support scheme involving over 150 companies in the East Midlands.

In late 2009 the group established the Retail Lab, a unique facility to investigate resource efficiency within the retail sector. In addition the group has undertaken the second of its Resource Efficiency in Design (Deep RED) research projects, investigating resource efficiency relating to design and the supply chain. In addition the Design Unit is currently undertaken further SME Design Support projects funded by Europe (ERDF).

In early 2011, Peter Ford was awarded Chair of Design at De Montfort University for his work in his field, Nick Butler OBE, RDI (former Head of Butler, Isherwood and Bartlett) and Sir George Cox (former Chairman of the Design Council) being among his referees.

In summary, for over 20 years, Professor Peter Ford has specialised in assisting Small, Medium and Large Enterprises make effective use of design within their businesses strategies and more recently on the benefits of being resource efficient in the design and development of these products, this has extended to advising Governments in the UK, Oman and Indonesia on the role of design in industry.

Research group affiliations

The Design Unit - including:

  • The Centre for New Product Development
  • The Retail Lab
  • The Usability Lab  

Publications and outputs 

Click here to view a full listing of Peter Ford's publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

  • Design Supporting Business (IBBD, MAS Design Pilot, ERDF Regional SME Support)
  • Design, Sustainability and Business (RED, Deep RED, Retail Lab)
  • Cranberry/Oxford Instruments – Heat Dissipation in Products.
  • Petainer Closure Innovations

Research interests/expertise

  • Product design and new product development
  • Low volume, high value, product manufacture
  • Medical devices
  • Innovative dispensing and drug delivery systems
  • Scientific equipment
  • Safety equipment and devices
  • Resource efficiency in new product development
  • Resource efficiency in design for retail
  • Knowledge transfer relating to new product development with SME’s

Areas of teaching

  • Product Design
  • Industrial Design
  • Resource Efficiency in New Product Development
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • New Product Development


  • BA (Hons) Industrial Design (Engineering)

Courses taught

  • Product Design BA (Hons)
  • Product Design BSc (Hons)
  • Design Entrepreneurship MA/MSc
  • MPhil/PhD

Honours and awards

  • Da Vinchi Award, Highly Commended for the Albert Leg Bag 2010
  • Da Vinchi Award, Highly Commended for the Leicester University Biopsy tool 2009
  • Times Higher Award, Finalist for the Moss Group Bag rack product 2008
  • Times Higher Award, Finalist for the Design Unit 2007
  • Lord Stafford Award Winner for Chameleon Packaging for LBT Design 2010

The Walkodile child safety product has amassed the following awards for the product   itself, its originator (Elaine Stephen) and the company Red Island Ltd:

  • Winner - British Invention of the Year 2007
  • Winner - International Design of the Year 2007
  • Winner - International Invention Award 2007
  • Winner - Pan-European Shell Exploration Safety Exchange Competition 2005/06
  • Winner - European Woman Inventor/Innovator of the Year 2007 (mother & child category)
  • Winner - European Woman Inventor/Innovator -Special Recognition Award 2007
  • Diamond Winner - UK Woman Inventor/Innovator of the Year 2007
  • Diamond Winner - UK Woman Product Developer of the Year 2007
  • Winner - Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Innovation
  • Winner - John Logie Baird Award for Entrepreneurial Spirit 2008
  • Winner - Nursery Supplier/Innovator of the Year 2007
  • Winner - Grampian New Business Enterprise of the Year 2007
  • Elaine Stephen awarded MBE for services to child safety in 2011

Conference attendance

See Published Conference Papers

Consultancy work

See products designed to market and externally funded and internally funded grant information.

Current research students

  • Philippe Radlovic  1st Supervisor
  • Nehal Almerbati  1st Supervisor
  • Nouf Alajami  1st Supervisor

Externally funded research grants information

  • New Product Development Centre, 2006 to present - £500,000-00 – East Midland Development Agency.
  • MAS (Manufacturing Advisory Service) Design Pilot Scheme, 2009 to 2011, £350,000-00. £150,000-00 from the MAS and £100,000-00 from the private sector.
  • ERDF Regional SME Design Support, 2009 to 2012 - £430,000-00, European funding.
  • Deep RED, Design, Sustainability and the Supply Chain Project 2009 to 2011 - £250,000-00, East Midlands Development Agency.
  • Retail Lab – 2009 to 2011 - £500,000-00, East Midlands Development Agency.
  • General private sector design research funding, 2008 to 2013 - £700,000-00.

Internally funded research project information

  • HEIF funding matched against the above activities, August 2008 to 2015 - £1,000,000-00.

Published patents

Self heating baby feeding bottle for Wright Plastics Ltd  0618059.0

Walkodile child safety product for Red Island Ltd:    

  • USD540988S
  • EEC Patent Application 03748334.4
  • US Patent Application 10/528209
  • European Design Registration 0003674200001
  • US Design Registration 29/245409
  • Registered Designs EU 79041-0001, 367420-0001 & GB3011881.
  • US Design patent 491114

Yukka Bin    WO2005016793

Dog Waste Collector for Farqueson Taylor    60867573

Bag Rack, Car Boot Protector for the Moss Group    0805069.2

Leg Bag for Albert UK    02796922.9

Collapsible Packaging for Luke Thomas Designs  PB141761GB

Flap Attack cat flap device for Easy Open Ltd    PCT/GB2009/002020

‘I’ Beam Clamping System for Tiger Paw Ltd    GB 0911376.2.

Child Feeding Plates for Piccy Products Ltd    TBD

Ergo Kneeler for Spectrum Health Care  001615311-0001

Semi Automatic Beer dispensing closures (pending)

Tensioned Clamping/Construction System (pending)

Professional esteem indicators

  • Reviewer for 2008 E&PDE international conference, Barcelona.
  • Reviewer for 2011 E&PDE international conference, London.
  • Reviewer for 2012 E&PDE international conference, Antwerp.
  • Reviewer for 2013 E&PDE international conference, Dublin (ongoing).
  • Associate Editor for the current volume of The International Journal
  • of Environmental Sustainability. Common Ground Publishing 2012.
  • Associate Editor for the current volume of The International Journal
  • of Sustainability Policy and Practice. Common Ground Publishing 2012.

Invited Conferences and Events:

  • Guest speaker at Origin Oman’s Product Design and Packaging Workshop, 18th April 2009 (Guest of Sultanate of Oman).
  • Invited to undertake company design audits for ‘The Nejd’ and ‘Sweets of Oman’, 19th and 20th April 2009 (Invited by Sultanate of Oman).
  • Invited to be a panel member for the PEIE (Public Establishment for Industrial Estates) Smart Manufacturing Conference 2009 (Invited by Sultanate of Oman).
  • Guest speaker at EMMTEX EMMAT event, Nottingham, 17th February 2010.
  • Guest speaker at the opening event of the University of Pelita Harapan (Surabaya) festival, August 2010.

Case studies


Product Designs to Market

  • The Designer range of Televisions   - Ferguson
  • A 5 beam auto focus camera  - Minolta (Japan)
  • Cycle lights  - Duracell
  • Soft luggage   - Antler
  • House wares   - Prestige
  • Quest Automation  - Firefly Modular Disc Drive
  • Squeeze Floor Mop  - Lucy Housewares
  • Cannula   - Viggo (Sweden)
  • Plastic Door Systems  - Steelcraft (USA)
  • Portable Geiger Counter System  - Nuclear Enterprise Technology
  • Zone Phone  - Ferranti
  • Colourimeter  - The Tintometer Ltd
  • The Tribune telephone  - British Telecom
  • Lift Interiors  - Kone (Finland and Belgium)
  • Foetal Doplermonitor  - Huntleigh Technology
  • Cable Reels  - Black & Decker
  • Haemocell  - Bellhouse Medical
  • Yankaeur  - Bellhouse Medical
  • Endometrial Ablator  - Rocket of London
  • Blood Gas Analyser    - Biomedical Sciences, Pfizer
  • Knee Surgery Instrumentation  - Howmedica, Pfizer  
  • Immuno Assay System  - Immuno Diagnostics Ltd
  • Liquid Dispensing Systems  - Englass
  • Various Innovative Packaging Designs     - Unilever
  • Lawn Mower  - Qualcast
  • Shower Enclosures  - Roman
  • Freedom Tele Cordless Telephone  - Betacom
  • Fibre Optic Cable Management  - GPT Plessey
  • Power Shower  - IMI
  • Car Alarms  - Lucas
  • Micropore Packaging  - 3M
  • Steam Steriliser Cube  - 3M
  • Vacuum Pumps  - Edwards
  • Series 3400 Fire Detector  - Gent  
  • Multi Shot Widget  - Guinness  
  • Toilet Fish  - Reckitt & Coleman
  • Bleach Block  - Reckitt & Coleman
  • LRAD Pipe Monitor  - BNFL Instruments Ltd
  • TRU D Packet Monitor  - BNFL Instruments Ltd 
  • DISPIM Monitors  - BNFL Instruments Ltd
  • Dustpans and Brushes  - Curver
  • Dish Drainer  - Lucy Housewares 
  • Auto Torch  - Bullfinch
  • Vigilon Fire Detection Control Panel  - Gent
  • Mimic Panel  - Gent
  • Door Entry Systems  - Stanley Security
  • Combined Smoke and CO Detector  - Monox
  • Sita Fire Detection Control Panel  - Rafiki
  • Multi Point Fire Detector  - Rafiki
  • Multi Point Sounder  - Rafiki
  • Ocean Carbonated Drinks Maker   - Plasmatic
  • Hugo Carbonated Drinks Maker  - Stadler Form (Switzerland)
  • Adam Portable Data Collector  - Crane Electronics
  • Joint Rate Simulator  - Crane Electronics
  • Multi-Scan  - Mediwatch plc
  • PSA Scanner  - Mediwatch plc
  • ADEPT Digital Radio Paging System  - Blick Communications Ltd
  • CO2 Sensor  - Gas Data
  • Interiors for Innovation Centre  - Royal Mail
  • Animal Faeces Collector  - Farqueson Taylor Ltd
  • People Counter  - IRISIS Ltd
  • Thermal Camera  - IRISIS Ltd
  • Telescopic Pole System  - No Climb Products
  • Scorpion Detector Tester  - No Climb Products
  • Trulight  Monitor Probe  - Film Light Ltd
  • Curtain Hooks  - Swish
  • Anti Cat Detector  - DA Systems
  • Burglar Alarm Keypad  - DA Systems
  • Water Butt Stand  - Rexam Harcostar
  • Virtual reality Arcade Game System  - Cyber Mind UK
  • All Plastic car Seat Concepts  - BASF
  • Emergency Lighting Signage System  - Chloride
  • Shoe Closure Systems  - Adidas (Nuremburg)
  • Air Cleaning Filter   - Austin Air (USA)
  • Otto Rhinoscope  - Olberon Ltd
  • Easi Stack Pans  - Imperial International/DMU
  • Easi Bin   - Imperial International/DMU
  • Smart Agent PC  - Cranberry
  • Phobic Trainers    - Berghaus
  • Yeti Boot and Gaiter  - Berghaus
  • Marine Shoe  - Speedo
  • Tennis Shoe  - Ellesse
  • Ladies Trainer  - Kangaroos
  • Men’s Underwear  - Mark & Spencer
  • Revlon Display System  - Wilkinsons
  • ErgoKneeler  -Spectrum Healthcare
  • Gamma Camera  - Gamma Technologies Ltd
  • LED Lighting Units  - Illuma Lighting
  • Short Life Retail Display Systems  -The Robert Horn Group
  • Urine Collection Leg Bag  - Albert Medical Devices
  • Biopsy Tool  - Leicester University
  • Rada Scanner  - Guidance Navigation
  • Mini Rada Scanner  - Guidance Navigation
  • Marine Navigator  - Guidance Navigation
  • Electronics Fascias’  - Oxford Instruments plc
  • 3D Corporate Identity  - Oxford Instruments plc
  • Portable X-Ray Device  - Oxford Instruments plc
  • Magnetic Resonance Device  - Oxford Instruments plc
  • Walkodile Child Safety Product  - Red Island Ltd
  • Victim Tracking Unit  - G4 Security
  • Store Evaluations  - Next
  • Xenon Re Breather for Neonatal Care  - Inspiration Healthcare
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