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Dr Grace Smalley

Photo of Dr Grace Smalley

Research Associate

Dr Grace Smalley is a Research Associate within the Sustainable Design group at Loughborough Design School. Her main interests are in User Centred Design and Service Design.


Grace was awarded her PhD from Loughborough University in 2013 for her thesis entitled An investigation of the NHS Service provision of prosthetic limbs. This research looked at the ways in which the NHS service provision of prosthetic limbs could be improved using the views of health professionals as well as patients and their families. As part of the PhD process Grace designed a new service pathway for amputees and received positive feedback when it was presented at a clinical conference.


Following the completion of her PhD Grace worked in the Design School on a small research project looking into the hazard perception of older drivers. In September 2013 she joined the CLEVER project and completed two user centred studies looking at user perceptions of aging materials in partnership with Newcastle University.


Grace left the Design School in May 2014 to join Leicester-Shire and Rutland Sport (LRS), the County Sports Partnership for Leicestershire, as their Performance, Information and Research officer. During her time at LRS Grace worked with a large number of National Governing Bodies of Sport and Local Authorities, designing research projects and analysing data. Grace was also an integral member of the team that secured a large Sport England grant for a project in the local community.  


In August 2015 Grace returned to the Design School to work on the CLEVER project. Since then Grace has conducted two further user centred studies testing a new material in partnership with Newcastle University and understanding user perceptions of the CLEVER Product Service System in partnership with Cardiff University.


Grace is also currently conducting research for a UNIFY project addressing a user-centred design specification for external fixators. The project was initiated by Prof. David Williams and is being supervised by Prof. Richard Bibb. The research involves interviews and focus groups with users of external fixators with the aim of producing an ideal design specification. 

Research Group – Sustainable Design


“CLEVER: Closed Loop Emotionally Valuable E-waste Recovery” (2013-2016)

A three-year multi-disciplinary research project in collaboration with several UK Universities and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The CLEVER project investigates how materials and product service systems for portable electronic devices can be developed to optimise recovery and reuse of components and materials, particularly rare earth metals and extend product lifespans. In this project the product is conceptualized as having three layers - the 'skin' - the outer casing, or the part that the user interacts with directly; the 'skeleton' - the critical support components inside the device; and the 'organs' - the high-tech electronics that deliver the function and which need to be the most up-to-date parts of the device. It is envisaged that within the new PSS component parts with 'low-emotional value', but requiring regular technical upgrade (such as the printed circuit board or flexible circuits) will be owned by manufacturers and leased to customers, and potentially "high-emotional value" components (such as the outer casing) will be owned and valued by the customer, so that they become products that are kept for long periods of time. For more detailed information on CLEVER please visit the EPSRC grants on the web.

Lilley, D., G. Smalley, B. Bridgens, G. T. Wilson, and K. Balasundaram. "Cosmetic obsolescence? User perceptions of new and artificially aged materials." Materials & Design (2016).

Bridgens. B, Lilley. D, Smalley. G and Balasundaram. K (2015) “Ageing gracefully to increase product longevity” in: Product Lifetimes and the Environment (PLATE), Nottingham Trent University, UK, 17th - 19th June 2015

Smalley, G., & Clift, L. (2012). Improving the Patient Pathway in Prosthetic Rehabilitation. Advances in Human Aspects of Healthcare, 471.

User centred design, service design