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Design Economy 2021 launches

Colourful installation, Everything Happens So Much, London Design Festival 2018
  • Written byCat Cooper and Tash Payne
  • Published date28 July 2021
Colourful installation, Everything Happens So Much, London Design Festival 2018

Ambitious Design Council research programme supported by UAL Social Design Institute will examine the social, environmental and economic value of UK design

A major research programme exploring the current and future social, environmental and economic impact of design in the UK has launched today by Design Council. It follows an initial scoping phase and methodology development carried out by UAL Social Design Institute and BOP Consulting earlier this year.

Design Council’s most ambitious research programme yet, Design Economy 2021 aims to provide the most comprehensive assessment to date of the value of design. As well as exploring the wide-ranging value of design, this 3-year project will also consider the role that design can play in building back better and creating a more just, healthy and regenerative world.

Hosted on an interactive digital platform, Design Economy 2021 will be a growing resource for policy makers, business leaders, public sector professionals, architects and designers. It will explore a range of topics, including:

  • The social and environmental value of design
  • The economic value of design
  • Business understanding and use of design
  • Public sector understanding and use of design
  • Public understanding of design
  • Regional variations in the use of design
  • How the design economy might evolve and change over time

Design Economy 2021 will have an ongoing focus on diversity across the design sector, considering – among other issues – how well design is responding to people’s different wants and needs, and the vital changes needed to ensure that design works for everyone.

This research programme is split into four phases

  • Phase 1: Scoping (January to June 2021). Considering the key issues that Design Economy 2021 should explore, and outlining effective and inclusive research and evaluation methodology needed to capture the wide-ranging value of design. This phase was carried out on behalf of Design Council by BOP Consulting and UAL Social Design Institute between January and June 2021.
  • Phase 2: Building the evidence base (July 2021 – March 2022). Building a national quantitative picture of the value of design through national and regional economic analysis, and developing a new socio-environmental framework and insight through national surveys with business and the public sector.
  • Phase 3: A deep dive into design (April 2022 – March 2023). An in-depth quantitative and qualitative analysis into the value of design across the UK. This will include a national survey of designers to understand the social and environmental impact of their work, along with case studies across business, public sector and local communities.
  • Phase 4: Re-imagining the design economy (April 2023 – March 2024). Continued annual surveys and focus groups to map trends across post-pandemic recovery and achieving net zero. We will analyse and consolidate the research into a series of reports and hold various events throughout the year.

Design Council will use the Design Economy platform to curate new data, evidence, stories and toolkits to champion design and further its use as the research programme progresses. Its interactive format will mean audiences can become co-researchers and collaborators in the research, rather than simply recipients of it.

At Design Council we know the positive impact that good design can bring – economically, socially and environmentally. As we build back better from covid-19 and face the biggest issue of our era with the climate crisis, we need to re-design nearly every aspect of how we live our lives. Design Economy 2021 aims to capture as much of design’s holistic value as possible, involving people across the entire design economy as we go.

— Minnie Moll, Chief Executive at Design Council
We are delighted to have helped Design Council achieve their goals for Design Economy 21. We have been able to integrate knowledge from existing research about the impacts of design for business, the public sector, society and the environment into the methodology for an ambitious, multi-year programme co-created with participants across the design economy.

— Professor Lucy Kimbell, who led the work of UAL’s team
The power of design to improve lives should never be underestimated. Design Economy 2021 provides an opportunity to quantify and qualify its significant contribution. I’d urge anyone with an interest in design to head over to the digital platform where the research sits, see what’s been done so far and follow this ambitious and exciting programme as it progresses.

— Professor Sadie Morgan OBE, Founding Director of dRMM Architects

Go to the Design Economy 2021 platform.