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Dr Lionel Dean

Job: Senior Lecturer

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Design

Research group(s): Design and New Product Development/ Creative use of Digital Design and Manufacturing Technologies

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

T: +44 (0)116 257 7526




Personal profile

Lionel T Dean has been exploring the creative potential of digital design and manufacturing technology for almost ten years and is at the forefront of digital making.  His work spans Art Craft and Design disciplines and questions traditional definitions of practice. In 2003 he founded FutureFactories, a studio focused exclusively on 3D printing technologies and developing computational design methodologies which combine Computer Aided Design (CAD) with computer programming. Such systems allow the creation of virtual meta-designs with the ability to evolve and mutate over time offering a potentially infinite stream of one-off solutions. 

Publications and outputs 

  • Design Research for Change 2019
    Design Research for Change 2019 Dean, Lionel T. Contribution to publication and exhibition “Design Research for Change 2019” This was an AHRC funded project curated by Professor Paul A. Rodgers, Lancaster University. The contribution was a custom 3D printed prosthesis for a below the knee amputee in South Africa “Digital design and manufacturing technologies such as scanning and 3D printing (additive manufacturing) are starting to impact the design of products for health and wellbeing as they allow for the customisation of medical products. The implications of these technologies go far beyond fit and function. Rather, they have the potential to redesign the relationship between the person and the object. Out on a Limb explores this potential through a practical example of design-led research, where the designer deliberately challenges the conventional approach to designing lower-limb prosthetics for women. Conventional prosthetic limbs are essentially kits of standard engineering components produced irrespective of gender let alone personal taste and sensibility. Recent years have seen move away from the disguise of the false limb to almost a celebration of the prosthetic. Here digital technologies have allowed the designer to work with the user and to create the prosthesis as a fashion accessory. 3D printed in titanium, ti64”
  • Hong Kong Productivity Council, HKPC, keynote presentation
    Hong Kong Productivity Council, HKPC, keynote presentation Dean, Lionel T. A keynote presentation to the Hong Kong Productivity Council, Hong Kong 3D Printing Association and local industry. 300+ delegates
  • Areas for 3D Printing in government services
    Areas for 3D Printing in government services Dean, Lionel T. A keynote presentation and workshop delivered by invitation ant the biannual Knowledge Economy Forum, Kuwait City. The keynote title was Areas for 3D Printing in government services. The workshop title was 3D printing in business. Conference themes were:- Future governments roles in the 21st Century Digital revolution and governmental vision Internet of things with the public sector Big data as the key to economic growth Providing public services through social media tools
  • Guest Lecture - University of Metz, France
    Guest Lecture - University of Metz, France Dean, Lionel T. Guest lecture entitled “Approaches to consumer product design in the post-industrial era through 3D Printing"
  • Generative Design Masterclass
    Generative Design Masterclass Dean, Lionel T. A two day masterclass in generative design delivered by Dean at University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. The audience were University staff and research students. The demonstration used the Grasshopper scripting plug-in for the Computer Aided Design package Rhino.
  • Stepping out on a limb: the design and manufacture of a 3D printed titanium prosthesis
    Stepping out on a limb: the design and manufacture of a 3D printed titanium prosthesis Dean, Lionel T.; Els, J.; Minaar, N. Keynote presentation, Conference paper presentation and prosthetic limb demonstration, RAPDASA Additive Manufacturing in Industry Conference, South Africa. November 2017 Dr Lionel T Dean was invited to make a keynote presentation at the 19th RAPDASA Additive Manufacturing in Industry Conference, Durban South Africa. November 2017. I addition to the keynote Dean was invited to present the results of a collaborative project to create a 3D printed lower limb for an amputee in South Africa. This involved a further conference paper presentation Collaborative project with University of The Free State, South Africa, Netcare rehabilitation Hospital Johannesburg, South Africa and Altair Software Corporation And a runway demonstration by the amputee herself. Keynote speech title:- 3D Printing: gateway to virtuality’s creative playground Conference Paper abstract:- Stepping out on a limb: the design and manufacture of a 3d printed titanium prosthesis This paper highlights the potential of direct metal 3d printing in the design of prosthetic devices through a live project case study. The project has two thrusts, technical (what we can achieve with digital design and manufacturing technology) and social (customisation to create something desirable and personal). Technically the paper considers a three-way balance between structural optimisation, additive manufacturing criteria and aesthetic vision. From a social perspective the paper describes a custom response tailored to an individual’s needs and personal taste: a couture device for special occasions that gives the wearer social confidence.
  • Additive Manufacturing (AM) / 3D Printing – Giving you the freedom to design (Opening keynote)
    Additive Manufacturing (AM) / 3D Printing – Giving you the freedom to design (Opening keynote) Dean, Lionel T. Emerging application summit: Additive Manufacturing (AM) / 3D Printing – Giving you the freedom to design - Opening Keynote Understanding the capabilities and commercial progress of Additive Manufacturing (AM) and how it is opening new applications and markets The flexibility offered by digital design and manufacturing technologies allows us to reassess the relationship between consumer, manufacture and designer. Direct digital manufacturing can deliver bespoke solutions, industrially produced or simply printed at home. Using Additive Manufacture (AM) the economies of scale associated serial production can still be enjoyed whilst employing a more personal approach to design and manufacture. Consumer products can be tailored to an individual’s need or desire; so called mass customisation. For well over a decade Lionel T Dean has been exploring AM business models that seek to engage the consumer in the creative process. These ideas range from an automated, computer generated approach termed mass individualisation, to co-creation, where the consumer takes a more active role in the creative process. This presentation explores the issues that surround a paradigm shift in consumerism. To what extent do consumers wish to shape the world them around them and what tools might they need to facilitate this? Can consumers become ‘prosumers’ without undue effort or the compromise of amateur results? Can the designer retain control as creative ground is ceded to the user and what are the implications for creative ownership, identity and brand.“
  • Gustavsberg's Konstall Revisited - group exhibition
    Gustavsberg's Konstall Revisited - group exhibition Dean, Lionel T. Gustavsberg’s Konstall revisited was a four month exhibition commissioned to celebrate the Swedish venue’s 10th anniversary. Curated by Carin Kallenberg the exhibition feature the work of six artists. Dean’s T-Rex versus the Gorilla ring design was selected for the exhibition. This is a multi-platform artwork comprising video and artefact. The rings were exhibited alongside the video animation from which they are derived. 03/06/2017 – 17/10/2017
  • Conference presentation
    Conference presentation Dean, Lionel T. One day symposium presentation by invitation Going for Gold: 3D Printing, Jewellery and the Future of Intellectual Property Law. A one day symposium organised and hosted by Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM, University of Bournemouth. This one-day event considered the intellectual property implications of 3D printing. Dean’s presentation discussed state of the art direct precious metal printing used his ‘Precious’ TSB (now Innovate UK) funded consortium project work as case studies.
  • 3D Printing: The Good, The Bad and The Beautiful
    3D Printing: The Good, The Bad and The Beautiful Dean, Lionel T. 3D Printing: the good, the bad and he beautiful was a group exhibition held in the Main Gallery of the National Centre for Craft and Design, Sleaford, UK. The exhibition curated by Anne Chick and the University of Lincoln and ran from 27/01/17 – 23/04/17. The exhibition was described as follows:- “The exhibition offers an insight into the complex social, political and environmental issues surrounding 3D printing, including the role of the designer with a technology that is openly available to anyone.” Dr Lionel T Dean was invited to submit four existing works and commissioned to create a fifth. The new work Bella was a multi-platform artwork comprising a video animation clip and a real work 3D printed artefact derived from that performance. The Bella commission was a multi-platform artwork comprising video animation and a physical piece derived from that performance. It takes the form of an art deco lamp and features Bella, a ‘lamp girl’ lifting the illuminated globe. Bella is not a static character however, she morphs through a video animation and appears in four guises in the physical lamp. “Bella is an art nouveau lamp girl at once frustrated by her gender role and empowered by her femininity; does she play the role or the role play her? No longer frozen in time by the limitations on analogue fabrication, Bella exists as a map of experiences and projected gender politics”

Click here to view a full listing of Lionel Dean's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

  • Additive Manufacture
  • Co Creation
  • Computational Design
  • Digital Craft
  • Direct Digital Manufacturing
  • Digital Making
  • Generative Design
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Rapid Manufacture

Areas of teaching

  • Digital design and manufacturing
  • Aesthetics and visual language
  • Generative design and co-creation

Honours and awards

PhD, University of Huddersfield, June 2010

Forthcoming events

Group exhibitions

  • Nesta Gallery, London until June
  • In 3 dimensions – printing objects. Museum fur Gestaltung, Zurich until 5th May 2013
  • Ornamental Status, 5th Base Gallery, London 7 – 13th March

Conference presentations

  • Crafting the Future 17-19th April, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Digital Fashion, London College of Fashion 16-17th May 2013 co-author Michele Danjoux to present
  • Santa Fe Symposium – conference for jewellery manufacturing technology 19-22nd May 2013 
  • E&PDE2013 Dublin 5-6th September 2013

Conference attendance

Atkinson P. & Dean L: Future Factories: Teaching Techné. 5th European Academy of Design Conference, Barcelona, April 2003

Unver E., Dean L., & Atkinson P: Future Factories: Developing Individualised Production Methods. International conference on Advanced Engineering Design, Prague, May 2003

Atkinson P., Dean L., Unver E: Future Factories: Supportive Technologies As Creative Processes. 9th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia, May 2004

Dean L., Atkinson P., Unver E: Evolving Individualized Consumer Products. 6th European Academy of Design Conference, Bremen, Germany, March 2005

Dean L: Designing for Rapid Manufacture: “Entropia” A Case Study. Time Compression Technologies Conference, UK, September 2006

Atkinson P., Unver E., Marshall J., Dean L: Post Industrial Manufacturing Systems: The Undisciplined Nature Of Generative Design. Design Research Society Conference, March 2008

Dean L: Titanium jewellery: High-End Decorative Design Straight From The Machine. Time Compression Technologies Conference, UK, October 2008

 Atkinson P., Marshall J., Unver E., Dean L: I Did it My Way: User Engagement In Post Industrial Manufacturing. 1st International Conference on Sustainable Intelligent Manufacturing, June 2011

Dean L., Pei E: Matching Design Investment With High Value Materials. 13th Conference on Rapid Design, Prototyping & Manufacturing, Lancaster, June 2012

Dean L., Pei E: Experimental 3D Digital Techniques in Design Practice. 2nd International Conference on Design Creativity, Glasgow, September 2012

Dean, L: Additive Manufacture: Added Design Value. iCAT 2012, 4th International Conference on Additive Technologies, Slovenia. Sept 2012

De Beer, D., Becker, L., Van der Walt, P., Mauchline, D., Campbell, I., Dean, L: Additive Manufacturing of Alumide Jewellery. RAPDASA Additive Manufacturing in Industry Conference, South Africa. Nov 2012

Dean L: Who’s afraid of co-creation? Crafting the Future. 10th European Academy of Design Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden 2013 (full paper accepted)

Other conference papers:-

Dean, L., Unver, E.,  Campbell, I., De Beer, D: Making it real: Virtual Tools in Creative Practice. Making International Conference on Materiality and Knowledge, Norway. Sept 2012 

Dean L: FutureFactories: Rapid Manufacturing At Work. Euromold Conference, Frankfurt, Germany, December 2008

Other forms of public presentation

Solo exhibitions:-

FutureFactories touring exhibition:

  •   Barnsley Design Centre:  27/10/03 – 24/11/03
  •   Dean Clough, Halifax:  29/11/03 – 04/01/04
  •   Media Centre, Huddersfield:  05/01/04 – 31/01/04
  •   designerblock04, Milan, Italy:  14/04/04 - 19/04/04
  •   designersblock04, London:  22/10/04  - 26/10/04

Automake and FutureFactories

  • Hub: National Centre for Craft and Design    03/05/08 - 08/06/08
  • FutureFactories, EuroMold Frankfurt  01/12/10 – 04/12/10
  • State of the Art, EuroMold Frankfurt  29/11/11 - 02/12/11
  • FutureFactories, Art-Metz, Metz France  23/03/12 - 26/03/12

Curated Group Exhibitions:-

  • A Few Domestic Objects Interrogate a Few Works of Art
  • Mary Boone Gallery, New York: 2005
  • Permanent Design Collection, MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, New York: from 2005 
  • Generator.X, National Museum of Art, Oslo: 2005
  • Perimeters, Boundaries, and Borders, Lancaster, UK: 2006
  • Swell, future friendly design, Vancouver: 2007
  • Digitability, DesignMai, Berlin: May 2007
  • Funky, Helsinki, Finland: September 2007
  • The Art of Research, Helsinki: October 2007
  • Colour Days: Warsaw, Poland: October 2007

Consultancy work

  • Generative Design
  • Design for additive manufacture
  • Design for additive manufacture in metals
  • Showcase designs produced for Cookson Precious Metals, EOS GmbH, Renishaw plc, and 3T RPD ltd

Currently Available

Current research students

  • Nehal Almerbati (PhD)- 2nd supervisor
  • Michaela Hawes (MA), School of Design – 1st supervisor

Case studies

Speaker by invitation

  • One day digital manufacturing symposium, Barcelona, Spain, June 2008
  • New Materials and Processes in Jewellery, one day seminar, Inst. of Materials,     London, June 08
  • Rapid Manufacturing Conference, Loughborough, UK, July 2008
  • Time Compression Technologies Conference, UK, October 2008
  • Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing in the Creative Industries, RPMA one-day seminar, JIIC, Birmingham, November 2008
  • Co-chair one-day symposium “Digital Art & Design”, De Montfort, November 2009.
  • Wohlers Conference 2011, EuroMold, Frankfurt, Germany, November 2011

Keynote speaker

  • Rapdasa, Johannesburg, South Africa 2011
  • International design competition jury member
  • iCAT Freeform Challenge 2012, iCAT Slovenia
  • Purmundus Challenge 2012, EuroMold, Frankfurt Germany

Work featured in publications:-

  • FutureFactories: design work by Lionel T Dean Ed. Paul Atkinson, 2003, ISBN 1862180474
  • 1000 New Designs, Laurence King, 2006. p284, ISBN 1-85669-466-6
  • Twenty-First Century Design, Carlton Bks 2007. pp234-235, ISBN1-84442-269-0
  • All light! All right?, Hangaram Design Museum, Korea: 2007. PP51-52
  • Simply Material, Viction:ary, 2007. pp72-73, 78-82, ISBN 978-988-98228-7-3
  • Process, Lawrence King, 2008, Entropia, pp70-73 ISBN 978-1-85669-541-1
  • Nature, Inspiration for Art & Design, Monsa: 20808 pp128-129
  • ISBN 978-84-96823-35-8
  • Perimeters, Boundaries and Borders, Fast-UK, 08 pp42-43, ISBN 978-0-6152-1355-2
  • Automake and FutureFactories, Hub: 2008, ISBN 978-0-9548015-7-1
  • British Design, MoMA, New York: 2010, p134, ISBN 978-0-87070-781-0
  • State Of The Art, FutureFactories: 2012, ISBN 978-0-9571025-0-7

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