On 12 February we welcomed over 300 guests to the British Museum for our annual summit.

Building on the success of our Leading Business by Design research we wanted to show how design is fast becoming the driving force behind some of the UK's best known companies – and how organisations like Barclays, Rolls-Royce and Waitrose, are using design to build great brands, better products, and successful working environments.

The summit was an opportunity for us to gather business leaders from the UK's most innovative firms to share how they have successfully integrated design into their business strategy. We packed the day with inspiring speakers and interactive workshops where attendees could learn first-hand from business leaders. The feedback has been great, and we thought we'd share a few highlights from the day.

Making connections

Steph McGovern – Business broadcaster & summit host

Amongst the day's insights, we discovered that our host Steph McGovern, now a familiar face on breakfast TV, started her working life in the product development team at Black & Decker. She was happily re-united with Martin Temple (Design Council Chairman), who once gave her team a design prize (let’s call that serendipity!).

Design debate

Design debate panel


Martha Lane Fox, Luke Miles, Pietro Micheli, Gretschen Gscheidle, Jeremy Lindley & Steph McGovern

In our design debate, What has design ever done for us?, Pietro Micheli introduced his research report written with the Design Council that inspired the summit. Also on the panel, Martha Lane Fox spoke passionately about how design is essential for ambitious start-ups to succeed - adding that she didn't know a single successful start-up founder who wasn't obsessively focussed on the design of their product or service.

Adding value

Paul Gardien, VP of Philips Design, spoke at the Interbrand Adding value session, explaining how design thinking had transformed Philips. Founded in 1891, the Philips design team's first official remit was limited to 'artistieke propaganda'. His team now lead the way in human-centred design in healthcare.

Winning workplaces

Derwent London's White Collar Factory in Old Street

Derwent London's inspiring work on the proposed White Collar Factory office building in Old Street was the star of the Winning workplaces talk. It was great to hear that the building's rooftop running track was inspired by the Design Council’s own Active by Design campaign.

Innovate and succeed

BERG CEO, Matt Webb used the Innovate and succeed session to reveal that he had been brought up by a family of wild tamagotchis. This does explain a few things, not least BERG's uncanny ability to bring both high tech smarts and bags of personality to their design offspring Little Printer.

Inspiring cultural change

Rachel Jackson – Head of Design, Thomson Reuters

In the Inspiring cultural change hub Rachel Jackson, Head of Design at Thomson Reuters, explained how through building Eikon, their market trading software, the company developed a new appreciation for the importance of design. This led directly to Thomson Reuters establishing their own in-house UX lab, working to three core principles: persistence, courage and thinking big.

Our audience comprised some great names in design, from GOV.UK's Ben Terrett to Tatty Devine's Harriet Vine and Rosie Wolfenden, as well as guests from the Malaysian and Finnish Design Councils. This made for some great Q&A sessions and workshops, with enthusiasm and expertise in abundance.

The team here would like to say a big thank you to all the participants, partners and guests who joined us at the British Museum, as well as those who couldn't be there but still engaged in the #leadingbydesign debate on Twitter. It was a great day and we’ll be posting video from the sessions soon and – of course – starting work on the 2015 summit! 

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