Arts Derbyshire


Discover a world designed for people this autumn in Think Human exhibition

Discover a world designed for people this autumn in Think Human exhibition

Derby Museums is working in partnership with Loughborough University to launch an interactive exhibition that showcases the diverse ways that Ergonomics and Human Factors make our everyday lives better, safer and more inclusive.

Think Human launches at the Museum of Making in Derby on 27 September in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) to mark its 75th anniversary.

Ergonomics, or Human Factors, is a design approach exploring how people interact with the systems, products, and environments around us to enhance performance and make our lives safer and more comfortable. Featuring exhibits donated from industry, universities as well as Derby Museums’ extensive collection, Think Human aims to deepen understanding of how this cross-cutting design approach underpins so many aspects of the world we live in.

Visitors to the Museum of Making will be able to follow a trail around the galleries to explore how historical objects were adapted to better suit their users. Interwoven interpretation will highlight collections pieces such as reading glasses, telephones and bicycles.


Examples of Loughborough University’s world-leading research and innovation have been translated into interactive exhibits using touchscreens, mannequins and actual products. Visitors can experience how ‘thinking human’ can improve daily interactions with complex systems such as hospitals, and enable emergency vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians to be more visible.


Unique exhibits include the Third Age Suit, commissioned by Ford to help young designers directly experience how it feels to be an older driver. Visitors can also explore a specially designed bag that allows paramedics to select the right equipment for each emergency and leave the ambulance carrying a much lighter load.


Additionally, visitors will gain unique insights into how ‘thinking human’ positively impacts sports performance and participation. The exhibition will showcase two of Loughborough University’s research and innovation collaborations with global sports brand adidas: specially developed ‘hot pants’ used by Great Britain’s track sprint cyclists who won nine medals at the London 2012 Olympics, and new camera-based measurements that show how the female torso moves, enabling better sports bra support to make exercise more engaging and comfortable.


Another exhibit visitors will be able to see is the surrogate head and neck model, which simulates the differences between being unbraced and unprepared to being completely prepared for an impact in a vehicle.


Dr Rebecca Grant, Exhibition Director and Biometrology expert at Loughborough University, explained how Think Human has the potential to inspire young people: “Ergonomics and Human Factors only appears in parts of the school curriculum within Design Technology, and yet its professionals are found across many industries in a rapidly expanding job market.”


By showcasing the diverse range of skills and experience that the subject calls for and the tangible difference it makes to daily life now and in the future, we look forward to engaging different audiences – from young people considering the next stage of their education, to policy makers and representatives across all industry sectors.”


Professor Mark Young, CIEHF President, said: “Ergonomics and Human Factors is a real-world discipline that makes the world a better place for individuals, organisations, and society. Its impact spans a wide range of sectors across work and leisure, from transport and healthcare to sport and sustainability.


Think Human not only celebrates the lasting achievements of ergonomics and human factors in contemporary applications, but also explores its vital role in tackling the future challenges of humanity.”


Professor Dan Parsons, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation at Loughborough, said: “Launching the Think Human exhibition in the home of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the first modern factory is a fitting way to mark 75 years of the professional society that champions user-centred design. This exciting new exhibition also reinforces the University’s established partnership with the CIEHF. Its Lifetime Achievement Award for Academic Research and William Floyd Award – named after the Loughborough professor who founded the UK’s first ergonomics undergraduate degree – features so many of our past and present staff, research groups and alumni.


We are excited to have so many of our design and engineering graduates making progress in this space, inspiring future minds and designing a more inclusive world for the people it serves. Their achievements, along with those of our research and innovation community add to the rich impact legacy that we are celebrating through Think Human”.


Dr. Cathy Putz, Director of Programmes at the Museum of Making and Derby Museums said: “Derby Museums is widely acclaimed for the way we foreground human centred design, giving visitors agency and a renewed sense of discovery and wonder through the way we animate our amazingly rich collections. Our partnership with CIEHF and Loughborough University in originating this important exhibition is a perfect way of celebrating the stories of creativity and innovation that our collections tell, setting these in the context of the latest advances in design thinking, inspiring us with fresh sense of possibility, a belief in the contribution that our own skills and imaginations can make in improving our world.”


Think Human is open to the public free of charge from 27 September to 22 December in the Warehouse at the Museum of Making, Derby Silk Mill. Opening times and directions are available here.

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