Professor Roberto Fraquelli

Professor Roberto Fraquelli

Professor of Design

School of Art, Design and Architecture (Faculty of Arts & Humanities)


Head of 3D Design


Dip Imperial College,
BSc Hons

With over 20 years of professional practice working with IDEO Roberto has designed products, environments and experiences for clients including PRADA, Shell, Procter & Gamble, BBC, LEGO and LGE. He holds a number of international design awards and his work has been featured in Domus, Business Week, Design Week, The Observer, NewDesign, and he has appeared on BBC Innovation Nation programme. His current research interest on Holistic design focus on 4 interrelated themes (i) ecological design thinking, (ii) empathic design, (iii) systems design thinking and, (iv) Goethe philosophy by way of design. He has studied with Arthur Zajonc looking at contemplative inquiry, and with Fritjof Capra looking at systems thinking at Schumacher college. Recent outputs include:

Mandala a series of 4 floor stools designed to encourage an alert posture and connection to the ground whilst praying or meditating.  Artefacts May 2016.
Contextual Empathy, The Indian Train Network  workshop and paper January 2016.
Deep Empathic Design, keynote paper. Engineering Graphics and Design - ICEGD Brasov Romania June 2015.
New Economies new Ecologies.  Salone del Mobile Milano. Italy April 2015. TANGO is a ‘mezze’ or ‘tapas’ table and chair set for two. Diners sit diagonally opposite and are encouraged to choose how much (or how little) they wish to converse, and share with each other. Artefact.  
Open Design Thinking, paper and presentation - Insight 2015, National Institute of Design. Bangalore January 2015.

Professional membership

Teaching interests

• Contemporary Industrial design-thinking processes• Product Design and Development • Innovation workshops • Design with ecology • Empathic design thinking • Systems thinking.

Staff serving as external examiners

External examiner MA Industrial Design. Central St. Martins. 2005 - 2008
External examiner BA Product Design. UCA. 2008 - 2011
External examiner BA Product Design. York St John. 2011 - 2014
External examiner MA Design & visualisation. Birmingham City University. 2012 - 2015
External examiner MA Design. York St John. 2014 - 2016

Research interests

• Design Practice.

• Holistic Design Thinking.
• Design ecologies and economies.
• The nature and role of creativity in design.  

Design Knowledge research group

recent work (papers and artefacts) :

Mandala stools May 2106
Contextual Empathy Indian National Railway 2016
Empathic Design 2015 Romania
Tango Salone del mobile 2015 Milan
Open Design Thinking 2014 India

Design consultancy projects:

Retail Interactive system PRADA

Design Director  awards: IDEA silver & D&AD nomination

The Prada New York Epicenter store is a working experiment. The space is designed to support new forms of customer service, merchandising and programming. It pioneers a bespoke customer experience and questions how sales assistants might orchestrate a unique experience for each and every customer. Through the use of technology Prada provide a level of service not previously possible. A wireless electronic platform includes the design, development and manufacture of the world's smallest hand held computer, charging trolleys, customer and staff profile tags, and scanning closets. The project pioneered Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technologies within retail environments.

MicroGen BG Group 

Project Leader and designer of the boiler and controller

Microgen is a new domestic gas boiler that aims to provide homeowners with a new cost and energy efficient heat and power unit. It enables the user to manage power consumption more efficiently and also allow them to supply electricity back into the national grid. The then energy minister Timms commented “The government set a demanding agenda for sustainable energy over the next few decades. This is a considerable challenge, and innovative technology, such as that developed by Microgen, could have an important role to play”.

Audience Tool Kit BBC

Project Leader

As part of Greg Dyke’s ‘Making it Happen’ initiatives for the BBC, the audience tool kit was commissioned. It is aimed at programme producers who have poor access to existing BBC audience information. The tool comprises of a series of cards; to spark new ideas, to understand the audience more deeply, or to better connect a programme to its audience. They can be used in combination, as a series, or on their own. The cards adapt research and brainstorming methods commonly used in creative industries that suggest methods to generate innovative, lateral thought to help programme producers develop a fresh angle.

Bellagio LG 

Project Leader  IF -  International Forum design award

The ‘Bellagio system’ is LGE’s premium brand commissioned to celebrate the new millennium. The project sets a trend in very high quality stainless steel manufacturing techniques, and established a ‘European Design’ and set of values for the Korean market. The system (Fridge/freezer, Washing machine, Dishwasher, Oven and Hob) is one of 6 major projects identified that has contributed to LGE’s current ‘Global Top 3 position’ (2004) and number 1 in Korea. The system identifies a unique European sub brand for a Korean company. It pioneered the design and manufacturing quality for high-end kitchens.

Working Lunch Steelcase 

Designer awards: IDEA Silver Design award

Working Lunch is an office furniture and technology system informed by the ways that restaurants now serve as an extension of the workplace – as places for individual work or meetings unconstrained by the conventional office environment. Working Lunch applies design and engineering attributes that had to this point only been used in product development in the creation of systems of architecture. In this new office, furniture and technology fuse together to form a component system comprising self sufficient, complimentary zones of activity. Some of the components are rooms in themselves that lack walls, allowing for open communication within this new office landscape.

Spyfish STV H2EYE 2002

Designer of the hand-held controller  IDEA design award)

The spyfish STV (submarine telepresence vehicle) is a remotely operated underwater vehicle with two cameras and strong lights, used to explore a wide variety of submarine environments to a depth of 150 meters. Connected to the boat via a slender cable, the Spyfish is driven by using a wireless hand-held controller while watching an on-screen navigation and status display. The form of the hand-held controller was the result of extensive user experience prototyping that studied behaviour, ergonomics, and materials to develop a controller that is ambidextrous and comfortable to hold.

Innovation Centre P&G

Project Director

Roberto has established and directed a variety of FMCG development programmes, innovation workshop and work place - environment projects. Roberto has won projects in Beauty care, Feminine and Baby care, Health care and Corporate packaging. Brands include: Aerial, Crest, Head & Shoulders, Clairol, Always, Olay.

The Design Innovation Centre Geneva comprises of 3 purpose built but interlocking spaces: ‘Business Innovation’, ‘The Consumer Experience’ and ‘Design’. Each space includes interactive walls, mobiles, shopping isles and artefacts that allow P&G operatives to generate new business opportunities with their clients.

Series of Workshops SWRDA + European Union

Author and workshop facilitator

‘DesignStretch’ ‘DesignBond’ and ‘Creative Thinking & Innovation Strategy’ are a series of initiatives commissioned by the South West Design Programme to promote, teach and strengthen business & design skills to ‘Small to medium enterprises’ and designers. The series focused around a number of innovation workshops that either targeted a specific in house design problem or proposed a new set of design/business opportunities. In each workshop participants learn specific skills and techniques that help them identify opportunities for innovation within business development strategies.

Published paper Salone Internationale del Mobile April 05

Author Empathic Design from Western to eastern cultures

mini abstract Empathic design techniques reveal values and aspirations in the hearts and minds of people you meet. These techniques are qualitative, inevitably taken from a personal experience, either yours or someone else’s. They complement the more statistical and formulaic knowledge found in quantitative information, and are powerful tools in generating great ideas. Great ideas lead to desirability. Desirability leads to success, either from financial, social or spiritual reference points. This paper sets out to describe the different levels of empathic design and how it is taught, learnt and adopted by professional designers from both western and eastern cultures.

Published paper. Design Management Conference. The Jordanian Design Centre May 07

Author Design Processes.

mini abstract The discipline of Design is evolving and responding to rapid commercial and technological advances. These opportunities will reflect current needs of design activities, business, research, and academic pedagogy.

The development time for products, environments and services is becoming shorter, and the designer needs managerial as well as creative design skills to respond to different consumer demands in markets that are evolving constantly. Designers are often relied upon for their ability to inform business strategy, to be involved in decision-making, and to appraise the potential role for products in a rapidly changing world.

The designer must be able to work in multi-disciplinary teams, with people from non-design backgrounds, and across the boundaries of design specialisms. They must have specific design skills interweaved into a set of transferable skills recognised by the Department of Trade and Industry (Design Council) as essential for success. Namely:

(i) team working, (ii) self-learning, (iii) honesty and integrity, (iv) communication and (v) interpersonal skills.

Creative practice & artistic projects


Research groups

  • Design Knowledge