Call for Artists

Submissions are invited for the #DesignforMSK exhibition and social media campaign

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Musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis affect over 15,000 young people (aged 16-26) in the UK. They are disorders of the bones, joints, muscles and spine, as well as rarer autoimmune conditions such as lupus.  Living with a musculoskeletal condition can interfere with your ability to carry out normal daily activities with common symptoms including pain, stiffness and problems with mobility and dexterity. Often, symptoms of these conditions are invisible to the outside world.

We would therefore ask you to think about the experience of living with a long-term condition and how it may be understood differently. Not all chronic conditions are the same and young adults may be faced with differing problems and issues. We would like you to think about how this could be represented through text or imagery.

Themes that have emerged from our workshop discussions include:

  • Not wanting to stand out as being ‘different’ at school/college/work
  • Feeling awkward using the accessible seating on public transport if someone else with a visible need doesn’t have a seat
  • Lack of awareness of hidden disabilities and illnesses
  • Musculoskeletal conditions tend to be seen as something that only affect older people
  • Medication that is difficult to use – e.g. blister packs or pill bottles that are difficult to open, un-ergonomic injector pens
  • For more, see our instagram profile

Criteria for submissions:

  • Works accepted from diverse disciplines (Visual arts, Photography etc)
  • Digital file(s)
  • Name and contact details and any other relevant information
  • Up to 500 words about your work

The selected imagery or text will be exhibited alongside our patient-led design project, working together with design graduates, looking at possible design interventions in their current lives. It will also be shared on the #DesignforMSK social media channels (twitter, instagram and facebook).

Deadline for submission: 16th October 2016 at 5pm

Work should be submitted in a digital format to our email address:


And we’re off!


Photo credit: Victoria Hyam @HyamPhoto

We held our first workshop on a gloriously sunny Friday in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The day started off with some icebreaker activities to get everyone talking, before breaking into groups to discuss the everyday experiences and challenges faced by those with MSK conditions.

Credit @EDA_Dance

Photo credit: Gayathri Ganathapy @EDA_Dance

After lunch, more creative brainstorming went on as participants worked on coming up with design briefs for exciting solutions to their issues. We are really looking forward to seeing how the ideas progress at our next workshop on the 27th August.

Don’t forget you can follow the #DesignforMSK hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to keep up to date with our progress and get involved with the conversation.


Researchers needed!

Are you:biology-220005_1280

  • A PhD student or post-doc?
  • Working in an area of research related to musculoskeletal conditions?
  • Interested in sharing your insights with designers and young people living with these conditions?
  • Able to travel to Manchester (reasonable expenses will be covered)?

If so, we want to hear from you!

We are looking for early career researchers to get involved in our project. You will work with young patients and designers to develop products inspired by the problems faced by young people living with musculoskeletal conditions.The final designs, along with the story of the development process will be curated into an exhibition to be displayed in a number of venues around Manchester in November.

As part of the project, you will be expected to:

  • Attend at least 2 of the 3 workshops between researchers, patients and designers in Manchester (on Fri 12th August 11am-2pm, Sat 27th Aug 1-4pm, and either 1st or 8th Oct, date tbc)
  • Interact with designers and patients online between the workshops, where appropriate.
  • Support the online promotion of the project and contribute to the documentation of the development creating a guest blog, images, comments, videos.
  • Contribute towards the evaluation of the project.
  • You will also be invited to attend the launch event of the exhibition which will be held on an evening during November – exact date and time TBC.

We expect the project to require around a week of your time, between now and the exhibition (although more input would be welcome).

If you would like to register your interest to take part in the project, please send a brief summary of your motivations to participate in no more than 250 words alongside a photograph that describes your research or your interest in musculoskeletal conditions. Submit your summaries and any queries via e-mail to: Deadline for submissions is 8th August.


Meet the Designers

We are very excited to have some fantastic student designers from Manchester Metropolitan University involved in the project. They come from diverse backgrounds and specialities, and will undoubtedly each bring something unique to the design process.  We invited them to tell us a little bit about themselves:


Claire DavisonClaire

My name is Claire Davison and I am a creative who straddles two worlds. Graduating with a Ba(hons) Fine Art Sculpture degree, a few years passed juggling my art practice with “real work” before I took the leap and enrolled on the Product Design MA.  Spurred on by a curiosity for design and always having an interest in 3D; product design was the natural progression.

 My interests lie in drawing the unexpected out of the ordinary. I’m a firm believer in thinking outside the box to solve the problem, and believe that we’ve all got something to learn from one another.  I take much inspiration from the “human condition”; how we interact with one another and our environments. My designs have ranged from conceptual interpretations to hugely pragmatic but all are heavily influenced by cultural and social anthropology. 


Adnan ArifAdnan

My name’s Adnan. I have had a decade long design-led career in the wristwatch industry before enrolling into my MA in Product Design. I have a deep appreciation of material culture and I continue to be fascinated by our relationship with objects. I also believe in design’s ability to effect change and this has led me to seek a more purpose-led practice in order to explore how we make objects and how objects make us.


Houda KaddouhHouda copy

Hello, I’m Houda. (Please feel free to pronounce my name the way you please as I am aware it could be a tricky one!) I am a multidisciplinary product designer with a keen interest in technology and materials. I am driven by individuality and innovation embedding insightful concepts of value, perception and culture into my designs. I am always seeking new experiences and eager to get involved with passionate and interesting people to fuel my thoughts and inspire my future projects. 


Harriet WhittakerHarriet

I’m Harriet Whittaker, my background lies within Textile design and I have always been passionate about exploring the flexibility and diversity of materials. Following the completion of my BA (Hons) in Surface design I spent a number of years completing several creative internships and forging a career in marketing. As this career path didn’t allow me to fully utilise my creative abilities I chose to return to education, applying to study an MA Product Design.

This course has helped me to gain the knowledge and skills to design more functional and utilitarian pieces, opposed to the concept pieces I had made previously. I have always taken inspiration from the subversive use of materials, and products which serve a dual purpose. I believe design should be both practical and beautiful, with the ability to transform the space around us.

Date Changes

Over the last few weeks, the project has changed and developed a lot as we have talked to patients and designers about what would work best for them. Because of this, we have made a few changes to the dates of the workshops. The first is still going to be on the 12th August, but we are following this with another on the 27th August. These will be for those involved in the project to start the brainstorming process and begin coming up with ideas. We are then going to hold a 3rd workshop on the 1st October for the designers to feedback their designs- this will give them time to make any adjustments needed before the exhibition in November.

But the workshops won’t be the only place collaboration can happen. We hope that those that attend the workshops will continue working together between them via online platforms. We are also aiming to live stream the workshops so that those who can’t physically make it to Manchester can still get involved. And of course you can still use #DesignforMSK to share your experiences via social media- these will serve as inspiration for the designers and may be featured in the final exhibition.

We are still looking for people to take part in the workshops, so if you are interested, drop us an email to let us know:

design msk flier 3 dates inc Oct



Arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions are mainly thought of as affecting older members of the population, but thousands of young people are also living with these painful and debilitating conditions. Many of the types of musculoskeletal condition that affect young people are autoimmune diseases, meaning that the body’s own immune system, which normally protects us against harmful bacteria and other pathogens, starts attacking the body. This can lead to pain, swelling and damage to the joints, and make daily life a challenge

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The Central Manchester NHS Foundation Trust’s #DesignforMSK project aims to raise awareness about these conditions, and develop simple design solutions to improve the lives of young people living with them. If you, or someone you know suffers from Arthritis, Lupus or another musculoskeletal condition, you can get involved by sharing pictures of your daily life on social media using #DesignforMSK. It might be something as simple as struggling with buttons if your hands are affected by the condition; you can post any image that shows the way it affects your life. These images will be used by art students at Manchester Metropolitan University to inspire new products that could make lives easier and more enjoyable.

We are also looking for a group of patients to work face-to-face with the designers to refine their ideas at a workshop being held at Ziferblat, Edge Street, Manchester on the 12th August. The workshop is open to anyone between the ages of 16-26 with a musculoskeletal condition. We can cover travel costs, refreshments will be provided, and you will be given a shopping voucher as a thank you for taking part. For more details or to sign up, please visit our Eventbrite page, follow us on Twitter or Instagram, or Facebook.

Come along to our first #DesignforMSK workshop

Get involved with our creative project: #DesignforMSK – Young people designing solutions.

  • Do you live in Manchester or the surrounding area?
  • Aged 16-26?
  • Do you have a musculoskeletal condition like arthritis, lupus or fibromyalgia?

Please come along to our ideas-sharing workshop on Friday 12th August July, 10.00am-1.00pm at Ziferblat, 23 Edge Street, Manchester M4 1HW to share your experiences and ideas over coffee and cake!

You will get the chance to work alongside Product Design students from Manchester School of Art and researchers from the University of Manchester. With your input we will design new products that could improve daily life for you and others with musculoskeletal conditions. For more information about the event and to register please visit our Eventbrite page or contact

The new product designs will be exhibited later in the year in central Manchester, and there will be a launch event for friends and family.

For more information about the project and to see the patient ideas shared already, visit our Instagram page:

DesignforMSK - Manchester

Get involved – #DesignforMSK

  • Are you aged 16-26?
  • Do you have a musculoskeletal condition like arthritis, lupus or myositis?
  • Help raise awareness of your condition

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Stage 1: Share your images, video, text or tweets using the hashtag #DesignforMSK to describe or highlight some of the daily issues you may face as a young person living with a musculoskeletal condition. They can include disease-specific issues or could be used to describe what like if like on a daily basis as a young patient.

Stage 2: Your images, videos and Twitter contributions will feed in to a design process in Manchester between a small group of young patients, product designers and researchers. They will use the content of #DesignforMSK to discuss ideas, draw up initial designs and will work together to make products for yourselves as patients.

Live in Manchester? Click here for more ways to get involved

Stage 3: This work will be shown in an exhibition during Autumn 2016. This will raise awareness of musculoskeletal conditions in young people and will showcase the final products and design ideas.


Please note that all content shared through the #DesignforMSK hashtag will be publicly available on our dedicated project website and social media channels. Some images may also be used as part of our final exhibition. Please contact if you would like your content removed from the #DesignforMSK website.