Paul Atkinson is an industrial designer, design historian and design educator. He trained initially as a mechanical and production engineer before studying Industrial Design at The University of Teesside. He has since worked as an in-house designer, a design manager and as a director of a design consultancy. When he became a design educator he studied the History of Design at Middlesex University. His work on the social history of computing technology eventually led to a PhD from the University of Huddersfield. He is currently Professor of Design and Design History at Sheffield Hallam University. He has spoken at a number of international conferences around the world and has had articles published in a number of international design journals.

His academic research covers a wide variety of subjects, all concerned in one way or another with the relationship between society and technology. The relationship between people and technological artefacts is explored through his writings on the design history of computers. The impact of the society-technology relationship on the design profession is explored through his writings on professional vs amateur design, including work on the history of DIY. The future impact of emerging technologies on the nature of design is explored through his practice-based research into Post Industrial Manufacturing.