New Product Development

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum (NHM) approached Birmingham City University in May 2008, following on from the ‘Design Is…’ exhibition stand at the Interiors show in January 2008, to design a retail product based which the Natural History Museum could sponsor, promote and sell in the future.  They wanted to focus on the preservation of the natural world, following a recycling theme.

After several meetings between NHM staff and our Course Directors, MA Design Management students carried out research to consider the objectives, target audience, time scales and budgets to create a clearly defined design brief which was then presented to BA design and textile students. 

BA students had just 6 weeks to consider how they would approach this project, carry out their own research and develop their initial concepts into workable ideas to be presented to the NHM team in May 2009. The BA students took inspiration from the Natural History Museum collections, building, brand values, qualities including ‘green’ and sustainable products, which currently exist in the market to provide and motivation to develop their concepts and ideas.

The Natural History Museum judging group, made up of Louise Emerson - Head of Business and Commercial Strategy, NHM, Katie Rosen - Creative Director, NHM, Jeremy Ensor - Head of Retail, NHM and Callum Lumsden - Creative Director, selected three pieces , from a total of 60 originally created, to take forward into manufacturing.  These included a woven mat produced by Sophie Strickson, a camouflage beach towel created by Francesca Isabel Isaacs and an innovative grow box created by Kyle Cadmore,

All three students had the opportunity to make formal presentations to NHM and the judging panel giving them a unique insight into how professional designers go about preparing for pitching their ideas.

The Natural History Museum has enjoyed working with the Birmingham City University students and academic staff on this exciting project. It is the first time the Museum has been involved in a project like this .... We have been impressed with the huge variety and quality of the designs submitted by students, which reflects the amount of work they have put in.
Jeremy Ensor, Head of Retail Strategy and Operations


The Natural History Museum Project, which was completed in Summer 2009, secured a longer term strategic relationship with Natural History Museum, supported the student journey and encouraged two students on to the  SPEED-WM programme to explore setting up their own business.


  • Wide selection of unique ideas to develop new ranges and concepts for their branded range
  • Access to up and coming designers with an ability to review new ideas
  • Promotion and PR for the museum
  • Supports the museum’s wider strategic aims to encourage more sustainable design practice
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