Lisa Thurlow

Lisa Thurlow

Lisa is a Lecturer within the Interior Design department, a designer, researcher and writer. She trained as an Interior Designer at Suffolk College and De Montfort University and has practiced for over twenty years, working for corporate clients including Pfeizer, Epson, Sodexo and Avis, and the education and health sectors. Her teaching career spans almost as long, and now includes research into sketch inhibition and pedagogic tools for its management.


My teaching experience is primarily in interior design, but crosses multiple disciplines including fashion and textiles, footwear, design management and research methodologies at under-, post-graduate and research level.

As a practitioner, I specialise in conceptual development, specifically involving hand drawn and analogue techniques which are increasingly sought by clients and agencies. I have worked for SME and international clients to develop highly creative commercial interiors and exhibition solutions as part of their wider branding and communication activities.

My PhD (2019), was entitled, “Designers who don’t draw: an investigation into sketch inhibition among undergraduate designers.” I used Grounded Theory to consider the cause, symptoms and management of sketch inhibition and drawing anxiety among under-graduate designers across multiple disciplines. Although a neglected area of pedagogic research, I developed and published a theory of sketch inhibition and continue to develop tools for use within HE teaching and learning to address the problem.

My particular research interests include design process, design cognition and visual learning pedagogies, developing from these, teaching tools for students with learning and cultural or language differences for whom such approaches are beneficial. I run workshops in design ideation sketching and inhibition management and am currently working on various related publications.


  • Thurlow, L., 2020. Grounded theory and the PhD – notes for novice researchers. Journal of Humanities and Applied Social Sciences, Vol 5.
  • Thurlow, L., 2019. Designers Who Don’t Draw: An Investigation into Sketch Inhibition among Undergraduate Designers. PhD thesis, De Montfort University, Leicester
  • Thurlow, L., Ford, P. and Hudson, G., 2019. Skirting the Sketch: An Analysis of Sketch Inhibition within Contemporary Design Higher Education. International Journal of Art & Design Education38(2), pp.478-491.
  • Thurlow, L. & Ford, P.B., 2018, Ideal ideation: a framework for the management of sketch inhibition among undergraduate designers. International design conference – Design 2018, Dubrovnik.
  • Thurlow, L. & Ford, P.B., 2018. An analysis of sketch inhibition within contemporary design education. Universal Journal of Educational Research 6(9)
  • Thurlow, L. & Ford, P., 2017. Where have all the ideas gone? An anatomy of sketch inhibition in student designers. Conference proceedings of the Design Management Academy: Research Perspectives on Creative Intersections, Hong Kong, 7-9 June 2017. The Design Society.

Academic activities

  • External Examiner BA Hons Interior Design, University of South Wales
  • Reviewer for the International Journal of Art & Design Education


Top 10 for
Teaching Quality

by the Times and Sunday Times 2022

Top Two UK
Creative Arts

by The Complete University Guide 2023

Uni of
the Year

for Student Retention -
The Times and Sunday Times 2020

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