A project to develop new evaluation and research methods to capture the vast contribution design is making to the UK has been launched by Design Council.

The research – which will be carried out on behalf of Design Council by the University of Arts London’s (UAL’s) Social Design Institute and BOP Consulting – will for the first time explore design’s social and environmental value, as well as its economic impact. These additional insights, which will be gathered over a five-month period, will lead to the most comprehensive assessment to date of the state of design in the UK.

Findings from the project will shape the direction of ‘Design Economy 2021’ the latest in Design Council’s flagship ‘Design Economy’ series, and part of our pioneering evidence-based research on the value of design.

Marking a further change to the series, Design Council will this year be presenting ‘Design Economy 2021’ through a new online platform – rather than as a single publication – giving people access to a host of events, thought leadership, case studies and key publications. These insights, stories and statistics will be invaluable both to Design Council and others working across the entire design economy, as we consider how design can best be used to ‘build back better’.

The design economy refers to value created by those employed in design roles in a wide variety of industries - from design intensive sectors such as web design or animation, to designers and design-engineers in automotive or aerospace companies. Exploring the economic contribution of design, Design Economy 2018 reported that design generated £85.2bn in GVA across all economic sectors in 2016, just 25% less than the entire insurance and financial services sectors.

Bernard Hay, Lead Design Programme Manager at Design Council said: “Every day we see the difference that design makes – through addressing health inequalities, responding to the climate crisis, or boosting the economy. This research, with its novel methodologies for capturing new insight, will allow us to develop a much fuller picture of the value that design brings. We’re delighted to be working with brilliant people at the Social Design Institute and BOP Consulting and look forward to sharing their insights over the course of this year.”

Professor Lucy Kimbell, Director of the Social Design Institute, said “We are delighted to bring to this project our expertise in design research to produce a robust and valid methodology for the next version of the Design Economy. Designers use their skills to enable change. Working closely with the Design Council and BOP Consulting, our analysis will enable the production of better evidence about the outcomes from design for business, the public sector, the environment, and society as a whole.”

Callum Lee, Managing Director at BOP Consulting said: “We are delighted to be working with Design Council and UAL’s Social Design Institute on this high profile project. Having been involved in the previous two editions of the Design Economy report, we are thrilled to continue to work on its evolution to better account for our changing understanding of the value of design.”

For more information please contact Bernard Hay at bernard.hay@designcouncil.org.uk. To hear more about this and other ground-breaking Design Council projects, sign up to our subscriber newsletter here.

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