Better design, means better business. We believe empathetic design means better design.

Our Mission

We’re driven to deliver products and experiences that are tuned to women’s needs and are fundamentally inclusive. Our aim is to close the gap between perception and reality when designing for women.

Around half of the world’s population is female, with data showing that women buy 85% of household products*, yet, only 5% of the product and industrial design industry in the UK is female**.  Gender, whether fluid or binary, is one of the most powerful determinants of how we see the world and everything in it. We believe this needs more consideration throughout the design process. It’s time to start designing women in, and our team are ready to do just that.

*She Conomy,
**Design economy report 2018, Design Council

Our Team

At Kinneir Dufort, our experts combine creative and technical expertise to deliver world-class products. Meet some of our innovators, designers, engineers and makers – our core XXEquals team, over 75% female and 100% female design allies .

Design Consultant

Alex Dodl

Alex is a recent graduate of Industrial Design and Technology from Loughborough University and is our Junior Design Consultant at Kinneir Dufort. In her final project Alex designed a menstrual cup disinfector to tackle current issues and stigma surrounding them, ultimately to encourage more sustainable periods to become the norm.

Why is XX= important?

With such a huge under representation of women within the industrial design industry, I think it’s safe to say that products made for them are lacking a level of personal understanding throughout the design process, one which should be balanced more like 50/50.

What does the future look like to you?

Design should consider every individual’s unique needs and humanity’s diversity as a whole. As a white male-dominated industry, it is inevitable that design decisions have an unconscious bias. I hope, by continuing to learn and understand the direct impact this is having on the type of world we’re designing, it will encourage us to rethink our design biases and encourage real change

A smiling white woman with brown hair wearing a floral shirt and glasses
Senior Human Factors Consultant

Claire Roberts

Claire is Senior Human Factors Consultant at Kinneir Dufort with a PhD in paediatric medical device design. Throughout her academic and professional career, Claire has always sought to place the user at the centre of any product’s development.

Why is XX= important?

As a human factors practitioner, it’s my job to apply psychological and physiological principles to the design of products, processes, and systems. To not fully consider any user group in that, is illogical.

What does the future look like to you?

If we are to create meaningful, usable products we must consider every user; appreciate what makes them, them; you, you; and us, us.

Head of Insight & Innovation

Kelly Dawson

Kelly is Head of Insight and Innovation at Kinneir Dufort. A strategic thinker, driving innovation by discovering unmet needs with global consumers, as well as defining longer term horizon opportunities.

Why is XX= important?

Empathetic innovation and design is critical, and having people who can draw upon real life experiences is powerful in creating meaningful products and services.

What does the future look like to you?

Staying relevant is one of the greatest challenges for brands and businesses. A we all move to an increasingly digital world, whether that is home, work or health and wellness, we will see service design really come to the fore to create seamlessly connected experiences and propositions.

Head of Medical

Kerry Briggs

Kerry leads Kinneir Dufort’s medical sector, driving growth by working cross-functionally across all expertise teams. A product design engineer by training, her desire to work on real world problems led to over a decade’s experience working for a leading global medical device manufacturer.

Why is XX= important?

We all know that we should consider our users in the design of any product but right now as an industry we just are not doing it. We are letting down at least 50% of the population by not understanding their needs on everything from simple household products to complex medical devices. This is a great opportunity to change that.

What does the future look like to you?

My hope is that the future of design industry is much more equal and diverse, enabling some really exciting new product developments. Challenging ourselves to consider parts of our lives (mainly women’s lives), which haven’t been up for discussion or exploration, will benefit everyone.

Senior Design Consultant

Hayley Maynard

Hayley is our Design Consultant, feisty feminist, cat person and cheese lover. Hayley works with the team at Kinneir Dufort to create meaningful design solutions, from CMF strategy to packaging.

Why is XX= important?

I believe in designing products for real people and all people. Often these individuals are represented by a product design industry that is majority white, middle class men. To address this we will strive to ensure that whoever we are designing for, are truly represented and heard in the design process.

What does the future look like to you?

More open, empathetic and honest conversation about diversity are already taking place. I hope these conversations translate to real change, as on gender alone a 95% male-dominated product design industry has a long way to go.

Senior Insight & Innovation Consultant

Lucy Baldwin

Kinneir Dufort's Senior Insight & Innovation Consultant Lucy has been working in the design industry for 11 years now. Originally pursuing the career to satisfy her interest in people and their needs, she has lived and worked in Australia and the UK, and is lucky enough that her job still takes her all over the world – when there isn’t a pandemic on.

Why is XX= important?

In 2021 a woman’s success is still defined by traditional milestones – when she gets married, and when she has a baby. Career milestones are not celebrated or respected in the same way,

What does the future look like to you?

I’d like to see an industry where women don’t have to adopt the traits and characteristics of their male seniors to succeed, where competence is valued over confidence and where sensitivity and empathy is valued more than alpha dominance.

Software Engineer

Alex Heslop

Software Engineer, Alex, joined Kinneir Dufort after starting his career in software development for the automotive sector, after graduating in Physics from the University of Bristol. He’s a keen cyclist and rower, and loves spending as much time he can outside.

Why is XX= important?

Understanding the disparity present in design and engineering 
is vital to making good design decisions, to enable products to 
be equally suitable across the needs of every user. Most of the products that we use on a daily basis are designed, implemented and tested on people just like me over in Silicon Valley. As such it’s easy to become blind to the fact that these products don’t solve problems for the majority of people.

What does the future look like to you?

A world in which a person’s ability to use a product easily 
and safely isn’t restricted by their sex or race.

Insight & Innovation Consultant

Sophie Usborne

Sophie is Kinneir Dufort's Junior insight and Innovation Consultant, with a degree in Human Factors Ergonomics. She strives to create environments which are enjoyable, functional and suitable for use, always keeping how people think, feel and behave at the centre of interest.

Why is XX= important?

For me, this project is important in amplifying and encouraging people to share their experiences, feelings and opinions, allowing for aspiring designers and creators to feel confident in themselves and their abilities. Even if just one person is inspired and feels empowered, then that’s a whole life changed for the better.

What does the future look like to you?

The future looks accessible, truly inclusive, and empowered. Striving for equal opportunities for all within the creative industry, and feeling confident in doing so. It’s about encouraging the mindset of building each other up, not knocking people down.

Senior Mechanical Engineer

Alex Waldron

Alex – Kinneir Dufort's Mechanical Engineer – enjoys, the challenge of finding routes forwards for complex briefs with competing requirements, though often retrospectively. Alex believes simple but clever designs often deliver the most benefit to the user while minimising the technical risk. His work in products for the fertility market helped hammer this home.

Why is XX= important?

This project is important because there are needs that 
are not currently being met for many users. In the worst cases, particularly in healthcare, there are examples where women get left behind or treatments are less effective. There are clearly ways to do things better and XX Equals aims to tackle this.

What does the future look like to you?

The future of design is set for a rapid shift in the way we tackle modern challenges. The rise of companies in the FemTech 
space goes to enforce the idea that there are still ways to 
do things better.

Senior Insight and Innovation Consultant

Claire Andrews

Claire is a Senior Insight & Innovation Consultant at Kinneir Dufort, and a design research generalist with experience across a spectrum of project types. From product to digital, service and strategy, sectors and stages. She has a passion that exploratory front-end projects where problems are at their most complex and where design research has huge impact.

Why is XX= important?

XX= is a great first step towards better design for women, working to break down those barriers and build the role and voice of women in the industry in general, whilst also providing a stop-gap resource of design consultancy where you can be 100% positive that women’s voices will be heard, and their experiences will be accounted for.

What does the future look like to you?

In the short(er) term, things are looking great – we’ve got loads of great female talent coming through and we’re identifying the biases that are holding them back so we can more easily challenge and break them. We’ll see more women at the table and in turn more products will consider the needs of that 50% of the population.


Merle Hall

Merle is CEO of Kinneir Dufort, with 20 years’ experience in consultancy, an expert in Design Thinking, Strategy and Innovation. Merle sits on the boards of the Design Business Association (DBA) and Kerning the Gap, championing women in design leadership, as well as partnering with STEM organisations focusing on a diverse next generation of innovators, designers and engineers

Why is XX= important?

In 2016, KD adopted our purpose, “To Design a Better World” and as part of that, equality has consistently been high on our agenda. We need to address this disparity across our industry as a whole. We believe If we can't achieve better equality, we can't design effectively, (that goes for diversity too) and businesses deserve a credible alternative to the status quo.

What does the future look like to you?

A more equitable, respectful and diverse industry, reflecting the society we live in.


Insights, opinions and news from our experts