Design - DKN

Design Knowledge Network – Interiors and Lifestyle Futures

Design Knowledge Network (DKN) was founded in 2002 by Kathryn Burns with part funding from Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

To 2008, the network assisted over 70 companies through business-tailored consultancies encompassing design and related areas including market research; competitor analysis; design process and marketing strategy. This resulted in significant business change generating £2.6m of sales and over 65 jobs.

Since 2009, further funding totalling over £3million from AWM and ERDF was secured. Building on previous achievements and experience, Interiors & Lifestyle Futures helps businesses in the West Midlands to find new high-value markets and create profitable and collaborative partnerships with other businesses.

Companies also benefit from a programme of innovative workshops, exploring creative business tools and new technologies as well as enjoying access to the considerable research, design and technical expertise at the University.

Throughout, DKN has augmented the value of this work through academic research exploring the experiences of the network, the implications for public policy and effective methods for improving the use of design in SMEs.

Research interests include: the design capability and capacity of firms, including knowledge transfer, knowledge exchange and knowledge integration relating to design; the absorptive and design capacity of SMEs; processes and systems for product development and new product development, including front-end innovation; adding value through design; company networks and clusters; the creative use of technology and improving investment in R&D.


Kathryn Burns