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Value and valuation through design

Value and valuation is one of the Social Design Institute's 3 focus areas.

The Social Design Institute is creating new insights into how value is perceived and assessed by designers and users.

Value judgements are a fundamental part of our daily lives and have major implications for how design proposals and interventions are assessed. We are exploring this through collaborative research drawing on traditions in the humanities and social sciences.

We aim to give designers, policy makers and organisations new ways to think about value and new tools to understand and communicate value within their professional practice.

Exterior of Make space with people on ladders
Make @ Story Garden (photo: Adam Razvi)


Evaluating MAKE @ Story Garden

Senior Research Fellow Patrycja Kaszynska is delivering the evaluation of UAL's MAKE @ Story Garden. This is a public space for creative collaboration which has been running arts activities and projects to address local issues with communities in Somers Town, central London.

We aim to find out what value is co-produced through this design intervention.

People talking
Make @ Story Garden (photo: Adam Razvi)

Supporting community businesses

Funded by the charitable trust Power to Change, SDI associates Dr Bethany Rex and Dr Katrina Foxton have researched what being 'locally rooted' means to community businesses and how being locally rooted works in practice.

Drawing on workshops and interviews conducted with community business staff working in Grimsby, Bristol and Leicester, the research examines the multiple meanings and practices attached to being ‘locally rooted’ by community businesses delivering services from transferred assets (community asset transfers known as CATs).

The aim is to support community businesses to develop sustainable approaches that work ethically and practically.

Read the full research report: The ‘Locally Rooted’ Community Business: Meanings, practices, challenges and the role of community assets

Student setting up an exhibition
Student setting up an exhibition, photographed by Kristy Noble


When people talk about the value of design, they often mean impact - that is, an amount of change attributed to design, as measured in terms of the accepted policy registers. This detracts from asking more interesting questions, such as how design produces change and how its impact should be valued.

Dr Patrycja Kaszynska, Senior Research Fellow
Value is related to identity and how we perceive ourselves in the world. Through practices of designing, considerations relating to myriad aspects of value are interwoven in the creation not only of products and services, but in making meaning and a sense of our interdependent selves.

Professor Dilys Williams, Director, Centre for Sustainable Fashion

More themes

  • Woman reading London underground map
    Braille tube map by Ziyue Wang, photographed by David Poultney
    Systems and design

    Improving the ways in which designers can develop a better understanding of the contexts they design for and in.

  • People sat around a blackboard
    Make @ Story Garden (photo: Adam Razvi)
    Policy contexts and implications  

    Developing a better understanding of policymaking, design and public policy.

  • Three images of model wearing various materials
    Image courtesy of UAL
    Circular design

    Circular design aims to support people and planet through emerging technology, systems design, new materials, social innovation and more.

  • A person holding a flower pot made out of seaweed
    Seaweed flower pots by Diana Tso
    Design for sustainability

    Find out about how our researchers are using design to build up knowledge and develop new approaches on how to address the challenges of sustainability.

  • Farmers having a discussion in a workshop
    A co-design session with dairy farmers, image courtesy of Alison Prendiville
    Health and wellbeing

    Working with external partners in the life and medical sciences to produce insights and new, actionable ideas, based on people’s lived experiences.

  • People at a flower market
    Columbia Road Flower Market by Jo Mansfield
    Place and community

    Researchers at UAL use design to engage, inspire and support communities and places.

  • Student at a grad show
    Image courtesy of UAL
    Public and social innovation

    UAL researchers use approaches from design to intervene in public sector, government and social innovation contexts.

  • A group of people wearing anti-theft bags
    Caption Young people with anti-theft bags by Design Against Crime Research Centre, photographed by Tom Willcocks
    Social action and criminal justice

    UAL's ground-breaking work using design research to address issues in the criminal justice system and to facilitate social action.