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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.