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CEO Blog: Design is vital. Our evidence tells us so.

CEO Blog: Design is vital. Our evidence tells us so.

15 July 2020 Written by By Sarah Weir OBE Chief Executive (2017 - 2020)

For many years, Design Council has championed the value of design, using evidence-based research to show its economic, social and environmental impact.

Making life better by design: Design Council’s story of impact clearly shows how design has contributed to three major areas of the economy – business innovation, places and public services. Packed with statistics and stories, it is a great example of the breadth and depth of our work, often with partners. This is to clarify what design is and to spread its use, inspiring people right across the public, private and third sectors to embed design to the benefit of their daily work.

This important document charts our successes, not only over the last 12 months but also the last 15 years, when our Double Diamond, a powerful visual description of the design process, was developed by a number of individuals. These two timeframes also allow us to show the immediate difference we make through particular programmes, such as Design Council Spark, which has helped entrepreneurs fast-track inclusive products to market, as well as the impact of our longer-term projects, including the transformation of Amble in North East England and our ongoing work with Pearson Lloyd to reduce aggression and violence in A&E departments

As you leaf through the chapters of this report, you will see how Design Council has enabled people across public, private and third sectors – from grassroots to government – to embrace design and bring about lasting, positive change.  You will also learn about a design sector that has been flourishing, as evidenced in our two world-first research reports, The Design Economy and Designing a Future Economy. The Design Economy 2018, showed that design generated £85.2bn in GVA across all economic sectors, not just in design industries in 2016. That is just 25% less than the entire insurance and financial services – one of our flagship sectors. Between 2009 and 2016 the GVA of the design economy also grew by 52%.

That was, of course, before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now, as we publish this report on the brink of an economic downturn, the design sector, like so many others, faces unparalleled pressure. This has been recently highlighted by the recent Creative Industries Federation report, to which we contributed. That the government has since announced a £1.57bn investment in the creative industries is welcome news indeed. Now it must also turn its attention to the design sector which must play a critical role in rebuilding the whole economy.

That’s why we are calling on government to:

  • Encourage and incentivise use of design by businesses, building on the government's support packages for business.
  • Engage with designers to rebuild a more inclusive and sustainable economy for all, generating a commanding lead for UK business.
  • Invest in design skills to meet the challenges of today, and provide the jobs of tomorrow.

We know from the evidence that design has the ability to confront the biggest challenges. We also know that this has to be a joint effort. I’d like to thank all the many Design Council colleagues, associates and supporters along with our many partners, past and present, who have contributed to our achievements over the years. I look forward to further collaboration in the years ahead as we continue our mission to make life better by design.

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