The design economy generated £85.2bn in gross value added (GVA) to the UK in 2016. This is equivalent to 7% of UK GVA.

The Design Economy 2018

Introducing the Design Economy series

Not since the creation of Design Council in 1944 has there been a more critical time to understand the value and importance of design. The UK is entering a long period of uncertainty, with stagnant productivity and growing automation putting pressure on living standards and job security, at the same time as negotiating an exit from the European Union. Yet with these challenges come opportunities. 

The wave of innovation and technological change taking place as part of the fourth industrial revolution – from 3D printing to artificial intelligence to the internet of things – offers hope for a brighter future. Design is central to overcoming these challenges and making a success of the opportunities. It must be at the centre of everything we do.

The purpose of this series is to offer further insight into the key findings of our Design Economy 2018 report which will be delivered over the next few months through articles, films, news and opinion, highlighting how design impacts and improves people’s lives and its importance to the economy. The Design Economy 2018 series will run for six months, each month will have a different theme: diversity and inclusion, innovation, productivity, localisation, education and design & STEM.

The future is design Design Council launches The Design Economy 2018 report, setting out the position of UK design and establishes a vision for its future. Design Council launches The Design Economy 2018 report, setting out the position of UK design and establishes a vision for its future.

News — 28/06/2018

The Design Economy 2018 – Introducing the case studies Design Council commissioned seven case studies to sit alongside the economic analysis and survey from the Design Economy 2018, bringing to life how some firms are using design. We commissioned seven case studies to bring to life how some firms are using design in a systematic or strategic way.

News — 14/09/2018

Innovation

Design can be both a resource for, and a form of, innovation, generating innovations which push the boundaries. The most forward-thinking businesses will combine user insight with data from other sources to generate innovations that are inherently novel or radical which will change perceptions and behaviours rather than accommodating them. Having R&D and design in-house is imperative to the introduction of new products, services or processes to the organisation, even if they are not completely new and original.

Monzo: Designing good mental health into the way we bank We caught up with Zander Brade, Lead Product Designer at Monzo Bank, to talk about the importance of design and innovation, and how a focus on mental health showed Monzo that embedding accessibility within products and services will ultimately benefit everyone. How embedding accessibility within products and services will ultimately benefit everyone.

Feature — 17/10/2018

The Design Economy 2018 – Monzo How the creators of the banking sector's most iconic new bank card use design to build trust and differentiate themselves to customers and investors. Design-led innovation in the banking sector.

Case study — 10/10/2018

Video: The link between design and innovation For the release of our groundbreaking report The Design Economy 2018, we spoke with Alistair Kitching of Reece Innovation to find out more about the link between design and other key areas of innovation such as science and engineering. We spoke with Alistair Kitching of Reece Innovation to find out more about the link between design and other key areas of innovation.

Feature — 10/10/2018

Understanding design-intensive innovation How does design contribute to innovation? Does the use of design improve the likelihood of innovation happening? If so, how, and can it be measured? How does design contribute to innovation? Does the use of design improve the likelihood of innovation happening, and can it be measured?

Report — 30/05/2018

Deborah Meaden celebrates innovative products at the Spark Showcase 2018 The Design Council Spark Showcase, presented by Deborah Meaden, was the culmination of 16 weeks of graft and learning for finalists on the product design accelerator programme. The Design Council Spark Showcase was the culmination of 16 weeks of graft and learning for finalists on the programme.

Feature — 26/07/2018

What do we mean by design? What comes to mind when you think of design? For many people, the word conjures up thoughts of creativity, products, architecture, graphics, or simply the way something looks or functions. What comes to mind when you think of design?

Feature — 09/11/2018

Diversity & Inclusion

Design has a diversity challenge. For the design economy and the UK to prosper during uncertain times, it is essential we bring a greater range of people into design careers across more parts of the country. This will ensure more people and businesses have access to high value design occupations and that there is a diverse range of voices in the room, which will increase the pool of talent and flow of ideas. The design industry has a responsibility to start recruiting individuals who break the mould of the current designer stereotype and who could be the design leaders of the future.

The Design Economy 2018 – Studio Moross Studio Moross is an interdisciplinary design and creative studio, specialising in work for the music industry, entertainment sector, consumer packaged goods, and food and beverages. Here, they discuss how their culture of collaboration and openness is tackling a lack of diversity in design. Tackling a lack of diversity in design.

Case study — 17/09/2018

Diversity and business performance – is there a link? The 2018 design economy is 78% male, which is a higher figure than for the wider UK workforce (53% male) and has not improved since the last edition of the Design Economy in 2015. To what extent might inequalities be holding the design economy back from achieving its full value to the UK economy? To what extent might inequalities be holding the design economy back from achieving its full value to the UK economy?

Feature — 13/08/2018

Interview: Kelly Mackenzie, White Bear Studio on diversity in design A firm believer in design and its power to communicate and ability to do good, Kelly has taken the time out of her busy schedule to share her thoughts on diversity in design. A firm believer in design and its power to communicate and ability to do good, Kelly shares her thoughts on diversity in design.

Feature — 24/09/2018

November: How design benefits business

Design operates across the UK economy, no longer confined to the creative industries. As advanced economies across the world transition from being capital-intensive to knowledge-intensive, the importance of intangible assets such as design is growing. The introduction of new products, services, processes, organisational forms and practices, allows for a positive impact on economic growth. Design contribute to increased sales turnover and business competitiveness, as well as increased brand awareness and brand loyalty. It is imperative to capitalise on design’s potential to increase exports in both goods and services, especially as the UK exists the European Union.

December: Localisation

Design can generate significant value for local and regional economies, however, 30% of all design firms are in London. Every UK region enjoys higher levels of productivity generated by their local design communities than the value generated by the wider workforce in their areas. Design remains widely underused in areas where it could have the greatest impact. Design plays a key role in several regional economies. Those are the areas which have been most adversely affected by the decline of heavy industry and tend to be concentrated in northern England.

January: Education

Design is central to ensuring a resilient economy in the longer-term, policymakers and education providers must consider how they will develop the complex problem-solving, critical and creative thinking abilities which are essential to innovation. Designers use their skills to develop a deeper understanding of people’s needs. The supply of designers will stagnate if the decline in students studying design between 14 – 18 years old is not addressed. Without state support, design will be left as a pursuit for only those who can afford it through their own means and the UK be able to foster diversity of thought and ideas required for the future.

February: Design & STEM

Design methods, along with art, should be incorporated into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects. This will teach future generations the skills required for a changing economy. Future engineers, scientists and digital pioneers will need design skills to generate new ideas, products and services to enhance their benefit for users. Along with art, the UK should incorporate design methods, tools and approaches into STEM subjects, teaching future generations the skills required for a changing economy.