Cardiff School of Art & Design>Staff>Professor Cathy Treadaway

Professor Cathy Treadaway


ORCID ID: 0000-0001-8325-3318

Specialist Subject Areas

Design for dementia and cognitive impairment
Creativity and wellbeing
Creativity and creative practice
Digital imaging and print technology


M.A. (Ceramics)
B.A. Hons. (Textiles and Fashion)


Cathy is Professor of Creative Practice and a founding member of CARIAD. She is currently the Academic Lead Investigator on the LAUGH EMPOWERED PSCI research project, which is developing playful and calming objects for people living with advanced dementia and post-stroke cognitive impairment (PSCI) funded by Welsh Government (ERDF).

From 2015-18 she was Principal Investigator on the AHRC funded LAUGH (Ludic Artifacts Using Gesture and Haptics) design research for dementia project, leading an international interdisciplinary team of design researchers investigating design to support the wellbeing of people living with advanced dementia.

As a result of her research, she has developed Compassionate Design, a methodology for designing for people with dementia and cognitive impairment - download the Compassionate Design toolkit

Cathy led the team that designed HUG™, a playful, comforting object, designed to help reduce anxiety for people living with advanced dementia. She is Research Director of HUG by LAUGH™, a university spinout business that is commercialising the product. Further information can be found on

Cathy's PhD research investigated the ways in which digital imaging technology impacts on the creative practice of artists and designers. The theme of digital technology and creativity is continued in her current research which focuses on the importance of touch, physicality and lived experience in relation to designing for wellbeing.

Cathy is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, has a Master of Arts in ceramics (University of Wales) and a B.A. (Hons.) in textiles and fashion (Loughborough University). Her research interests have been stimulated by her considerable experience working as a designer for industry.

She has expertise in large format digital ink-jet printing, three-dimensional printing (rapid prototyping) and is fluent in an array of design software applications. She is an experienced educator, PhD supervisor and PhD examiner and has been a reviewer for RCUK, Alzheimer's Society, British Council and regularly reviews papers and books for international academic publishers and conferences.

Cathy has undertaken collaborative research with universities in the UK, USA and Australia and regularly presents her research internationally.

Current Research

LAUGH Empowered
The LAUGH Empowered project is a two-year design research project that is developing playful objects for people living with advanced dementia and post-stroke cognitive impairment. The project is funded by the Welsh Government Smart Expertise ERDF and is a collaboration between Cardiff Metropolitan University, NHS and Sunrise Senior Living.

The research will evaluate and develop a comforting playful object: HUG by LAUGH® that was created during the AHRC funded LAUGH research project. HUG is an interactive device designed to reduce anxiety and provide comfort for people living with advanced dementia and cognitive impairment. The product was nominated as Outstanding Dementia Care Product of the year 2018.

STAR (Sensory Textile Alzheimer's Research) is a small collaborative research project with Crafts Council UK and Swansea University. The study is using fMRI brain scanning to investigate ways in which touch can stimulate autobiographic memory. Findings will inform future research that will explore the design of sensory textiles to enhance the wellbeing of people living with advanced dementia.

Cathy was Principal Investigator on the AHRC funded LAUGH project (2015-2018), a three-year international interdisciplinary design research collaboration with researchers at University of Technology Sydney and Birmingham City University. The project was partnered by Gwalia Cyf and supported by Age Cymru and the Alzheimer’s Society. The research investigated the development of design solutions for highly personalised playful devices to amuse, comfort, engage, bring joy, and promote ‘in the moment’ living for people with late stage dementia. Full details of the project including publications can be found on

Hand i Pockets
Hand i Pockets is an on-going social engagement initiative developed by Cathy in collaboration with Dr Gail Kenning (UTS Australia) that aims to promote dementia awareness, through making sensory textiles together in the community. Hand i Pocket Funshops are creative public events held in community spaces, museums, festivals and residential care homes etc., involving people of all ages and backgrounds. The creative events aim to stimulate community creativity and make CARIAD dementia research accessible and inclusive.

Sensor e-Textiles 
This research was supported by REIF and OPAN awards (2013-15). It investigated innovative ways to support the wellbeing of people with dementia through the development of sensory e-textiles and ‘smart’ garments. The research aim was to design, prototype and evaluate sensory textiles embedded with smart technology in order to stimulate, amuse and engage people with late stage dementia. The work was informed by a research development group including older people, health professionals, carers, technologists and designers. 

Making a Difference 
This OPAN funded research builds on findings from Cathy’s previous ‘Permission to Play’ AHRC funded research with University of Strathclyde concerning playfulness, creativity and wellbeing in adult life. Playfulness has been shown to support subjective wellbeing, encouraging living in the moment and providing new mental spaces that stimulate imaginative thinking. This research scoped the development of new craft-based activities that incorporate digital technologies, to promote open-ended, non-goal orientated play for people with late stage dementia. It brought together a range of experts from the fields of healthcare, design and technology, in participatory design research. 

Other previous research projects include: drawing and wellbeing, investigations using 2 and 3D digital print technology to explore sensory perception; crafting processes and hand use; collaborative creativity using digital technology. More information about Cathy’s previous research can be found on: 

Principal Publications

 To view Professor Treadaway’s publications on DSpace click here
To view all Professor Treadaway’s publications click here.

ORCID ID: 0000-0001-8325-3318

Treadaway C., Pool, J., and Johnson, A. (2020) ‘Sometimes a hug is all you need,’ Journal of Dementia Care, Nov/Dec 2020 Vol 28:6 pp 32-34

Treadaway, C. (2020) ‘Personalization and Compassionate Design,’ chapter 4, pp.49 in ‘HCI and Design in the Context of Dementia’ Eds. Brankaert, Rens and Kenning, Gail. Human-Interaction (Series Eds. Tan, D. and Vanderdonckt, J.) Pub. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland. ISBN 978-3-030-32834-4 DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-32835-1

Treadaway, C., Fennell, J., Taylor A. & Kenning G. (2019) 'Designing for playfulness through compassion: design for advanced dementia,' Design for Health, 3:1, 27-47, DOI: 10.1080/24735132.2019.1593295

Treadaway, C., Fennell, J., Prytherch, D., Kenning, G. and Walters, A. (2019) 'Designing for well-being in late stage dementia' Chapter 10 (pp 136-151) in Coles, R. (Ed.), Costa, S. (Ed.), Watson, S. (Ed.). (26th October 2018). Pathways to Well-Being in Design: Examples from the Arts, Humanities and the Built Environment', (1st Edition) London: Routledge, 2019 ISBN: 9780815346951

Treadaway, C. (2018)  'LAUGH: playful objects in advanced dementia care' The Journal of Dementia Care July/August 2018 Vol 26 No 4 pp24-26

Treadaway, C., Taylor, A. & J. Fennell (2018) 'Compassionate design for dementia care', (2018) International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation, Vol. 7:3 DOI: 10.1080/21650349.2018.1501280

Treadaway, C., Fennell, J., Prytherch, D., Kenning, G., Prior, A. and Walters, A. (2018) Compassionate Design: How to Design for Advanced Dementia – a toolkit for designers, Pub. Cardiff Met University, ISBN 978-0-9929482-8-3

Treadaway, C., Fennell, J., Taylor, A. and Kenning, G. (2018) 'Designing for playfulness through compassion: design for advanced dementia' In Proceedings of the 5th conference on Design4Health, Editors: Christer, K., Craig, C., & Wolstenholme, D. Sheffield 4th-6th September 2018 ISBN: 978-1-84387-421-8

Treadaway, C. (2018) 'LAUGH improves wellbeing, happiness and quality of life of people living with advanced dementia' Research Features Issue 122 ISSN 2399-1534 pp34-37

Kenning, G. & Treadaway, C. (2018) 'Designing for Dementia: Iterative Grief and Transitional Objects' Design Issues 34:1, 42-53 January 2018 - special issue on Mortality: DOI10.1162/DESI_a_00475

 Treadaway, C. and Kenning, G. (2018) 'Sensory E-Textiles and Playful Objects: Designing for Advanced Dementia Care,' in Proceedings of the 4th Neurological Disorders Summit (NDS-2018, Los Angeles, USA July 2018) Journal of Neurology & Experimental Neuroscience 4(Suppl 1): S19 Aug 2018 doi: 10.17756/jnen.2018-suppl1