Skip to content

Dr David Heap

Job: Associate Professor for Design Cultures

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities 2

School/department: School of Design

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

T: 0116 207 8370




Personal profile

David is the Associate Professor for Design Cultures in the School of Design at De Montfort University. He leads a team of lecturers who teach historical, theoretical and professional aspects of design to all the students that study in the School of Fashion & Textiles, as well as programmes in the School of Art, Design & Architecture.

David has a PhD, MA and BA Hons from Birmingham City University (BCU) where he both studied and taught for ten years. After leaving BCU, David spent seven years at Staffordshire University as a Senior Lecturer in Historical and Theoretical studies for Design.

As part of the University’s aspiration to develop Trans-National Education (TNE), David has recently spent time in Malaysia developing a Design Innovation Management MA programme for a leading Malaysian University. This programme will go live in the Autumn of 2020 and will be followed by the development of a BA Hons programme in the same discipline.   

As a trained furniture designer and Design Manager, David is interested in how design is used within manufacturing businesses; this interest has led to active involvement in UK manufacturing through the now defunct Furniture West Midlands group which championed design and manufacturing in small firms.

David’s current research includes auditing design maturity in small manufacturers and fabricators; a related strand of research involves investigating Silent Design in companies to establish ownership of ideas.

Research group affiliations

Institute of Art and Design

Publications and outputs

Silent Design and the Business of Creative Ideas

Chapter in;

Granger, R. (ed) (2020) Value Construction in the Creative Economy. Negotiating Innovation and Transformation. Palgrave Macmillan.

Key research outputs

Contextual Studies and Employability   Innovative Practice in Higher Educations. Vol 1. (3).  April 2013 

Design Capacity and Capability: Mapping Design in Motion within the UK’s Furniture Manufacturing Sector.   Proceedings from the IASDR 07 International Association of Societies of Design Research. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.  November 2007.  

Research interests/expertise

Information and Knowledge for Design

Silent Design in Manufacturing Firms

Tacit Understanding of Design Processes and Practices

UK Furniture Manufacturing

Activity Theory

Managing/Auditing Design in Companies

Member of the Creative and Cultural Industries Group (DMU)

Furniture Design
Although my teaching and research take up most of my time, I am still an enthusiastic furniture designer and have a few long term design projects active. My furniture design expertise is within the contract sector; as such I am currently developing a range of furniture products which respond to the ever increasing lack of (and desire for) privacy within public spaces. My furniture has been designed to give users privacy whilst allowing for public interactions if so wished.

Areas of teaching

Design Cultures for Interior Design

Design Cultures for Product Design

MA Research Methods



PGCert in Higher and Professional Education – Teacher Training

PGCert in Higher and Professional Education – PhD Supervision

PhD - Design Capacity and Capability: Mapping Design in Motion in the UK’s Furniture Manufacturing Sector

MA (Distinction) - Design Management

BA (First Class Hons) - Furniture Design

Courses taught

Design Cultures 

MA Research Methods



Design Information Maturity Evaluation (DIME) Audit

Within the United Kingdom’s varied and vibrant manufacturing sector small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are, in many cases, developing new products with only limited design information. There is compelling empirical evidence that suggests many SMEs are missing product development opportunities because they lack critical design information.

The Design Information Maturity Evaluation (DIME) Audit, which is derived from extensive research within the UK’s manufacturing sectors, is being developed for SME manufacturers and fabricators who wish to better understand their company’s capacity or ‘maturity level’ to recognise, gather and maintain essential design information.

Completion of the audit by companies results in a DIME grade, which over time, through the better understanding, acquisition and maintenance of design information, a firm can work towards developing and improving. The research is driven by the belief that an improved awareness of critical design information could increase a company’s diversity and competitiveness.

Conference attendance

March 2018   APPARITION: THE (IM)MATERIALITY OF MODERN SURFACE.  De Montfort University, Liecester, UK (I helped organise this confernece with Dr Yeseung Lee).

June 2017    KNOWING WHAT TO KNOW - THE DIME AUDIT; DESIGN INFORMATION MATURITY EVALUATION. Leicester Buisness Festival. De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

March 2015    REFLECTIONS ON THE DYNAMICS OF DOCTORAL SUPERVISION: ​AN ACTIVITY THEORY APPROACH  Design Principles and Practices Conference: University Centre, Chicago, USA.

January 2014    HATELOVEDESIGN: ENGENDERING DESIGN STUDENT'S RESEARCH, ANALYSIS AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS. Eight International Conference of Design Principles and Practices:  ‘Design as a Collective Intelligence’.  University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

November 2007    DESIGN CAPACITY AND CAPABILITY: MAPPING DESIGN IN MOTION WITHIN THE  UK’S FURNITURE MANUFACTURING SECTOR.  Emerging Trends in Design: Research Conference.  IASDR 07 International Association of Societies of Design Research. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong. 

November 2004   FURNITURE, FACTS, FUTURES.  Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK. (I co-organised this conference with Professor Robert Jerrard). 

Recent research outputs

Contextual Studies and Employability

Innovative Practice in Higher Educations. Vol 1. (3). 

Current research students


Image of David Heap