From ex-sugar factory to sweet designs, a team of South West creatives are contributing to some of the UK’s most innovative design and engineering projects, and it’s all being done from a beautiful converted sugar refinery in the heart of Bristol’s city centre at award-winning consultancy Kinneir Dufort.

Making ideas become a reality is what the Kinneir Dufort team do best, combining research, innovation, design and world-class product development and diving into anything from infection-reducing product innovation for hospitals to using design to engage the public in issues of sustainability and teaching children to code.

You can check out some of the projects its team has been involved in in the last year in the video below:


As well as partnering with world-leading brands, its team has also helped some of the South West’s most exciting startups – including Ultrahaptics which has developed tech that allows you to feel objects in mid-air.

With so much going on we had to have a chat with its Senior Marketing Manager Melanie Raymond to find out more about how Kinneir Dufort has grown to become such a diverse and successful consultancy thriving in the South West.

Loyal experts

With Kinneir Dufort founded in Bristol back in 1977, it’s almost no surprise that it has built the level of trust and expertise it has today. As Melanie tells us: “The expertise we offer is extensive. It encompasses in-depth research, creative innovation, human factors, design and development, user experience (UX), mechanical engineering, advanced technology and state-of-the-art prototyping.

“We create global award-winning solutions in healthcare, consumer goods, packaging, business-to-business goods and industrial products.”

As Melanie explains: “Kinneir Dufort successfully completed a management buyout to launch a ‘third generation’ of our award-winning business. The transition, which had been planned for a number of years, saw Merle Hall take over as Managing Director supported by Craig Wightman, who expanded his role to that of Executive Design Director.  The leadership team are supported by an experienced team of heads of sector and expertise.

The third Generation of Kinneir Dufort: Merle Hall & Craig Wightman

Award Winning

With its successes spanning 40 years, the Kinneir Dufort team are still pulling award-winning moments out of the bag. Melanie tells us, “We are very proud to have recently won a Footprint Sustainability Award for Best Innovation. Just this month, Managing Director, Merle Hall won an award for being an outstanding International Director at the Institute of Directors South West Director of the Year Awards.”

“We are very proud to have recently won the Bristol Life Award for Best Business Services”


“We are also very proud to have recently won the Bristol Life Award for Best Business Services. This was a huge honour to receive, acknowledging the work we have done in the previous year for local businesses, as well as the internationals we work with every day.

“In other recent news, we have appointed a new Head of Design, Russell Beard. Russell brings a wealth of experience from spells at Seymourpowell, Australian consultancy Design + Industry and his own design business, Square Banana, which he has been running successfully for over 10 years.  As part of the change, Square Banana’s design team, as well as key client relationships, have been integrated within Kinneir Dufort.

Advancing technology

Being part of the South West’s tech and creative scene, working with other leading technology companies and brands in the region, has been one of the keys to Kinneir Dufort’s successes.

“The Kinneir Dufort Electronics team helped the [Ultrahaptics] team visualise their dreams”


Melanie says: “The South West is a fantastic creative hub. Our team come from all over the UK and the world to work for us here; showing excellence in design is not just in London. Especially the technology sector, for which there is huge interest in the area. We believe Bristol is a great city not just to work in but live in.”

Engineering collaboration: Ultrahaptics Co-Founder Tom Carter talks about the companies groundbreaking work with Kinneir Dufort in the early days

This goes for the companies it works with, with Melanie giving a special mention to Ultrahaptics: “We are proud to have partnered with Engine Shed alumnus Ultrahaptics, right from the start of its journey.

“Ultrahaptics came to us with an incredibly exciting and breakthrough technology that allows you to feel things in the air without touching them. Our involvement started very early, when the team worked from home, consisting of three employees.

“We enjoy and often host events alongside groups such as Bristol Media, West of England Design Forum and Kerning the Gap here at our offices in Host St”


“The Kinneir Dufort Electronics team helped the team visualise their dreams and create a product that would enable them to bring their ideas to life and make their technology accessible for people to experience and enjoy. Since these humble beginnings, and with the help of Kinneir Dufort, the company has grown to a 40-strong team in Glass Wharf Bristol, raised over £11.5million in investment, and have built up a diverse customer portfolio.

“They’ve also won an abundance of awards including the ACE Ultimate Product Software Award, Royal Academy of Engineering Award and Start-up of the Year at the British Engineering Excellence Awards.”

Get involved

Kinneir Dufort’s involvement with local companies doesn’t just involve commercial relationships either, its team is involved in all sorts of other events and collaborative affairs across the city.

As Melanie explains: “We enjoy and often host events alongside groups such as Bristol Media, West of England Design Forum and Kerning the Gap here at our offices in Host St. It is a great way for local like-minded people to get together and learn from each other.

“Our teams often represent Kinneir Dufort and hold talks at various international conferences, such as the annual Global Innovation Forum and the Wearable Technology Show, and often sit on the panel for organisations such as the DBA and Design Council”.

To find out more about these Bristol-based design engineer experts, take a look at the Kinneir Dufort website. You can also stay up-to-date with their latest news by following them on Twitter here: @KinneirDufort.

Alice Whale