Using design as a force for change

At Design Council we believe in using design as a force for change – enabling us to tackle some of the toughest economic, societal and environmental challenges. We commission pioneering, evidence-based research, develop ground-breaking programmes and use insights from these in our ongoing influencing and policy work, to show the power of design and how it impacts three key areas of the economy: business innovation, places and public services. 

In March 2020 we published our new strategy, which outlines our key priorities for the next four years. Over this time, we will focus on three key areas which urgently need to be addressed: improving our nation’s health and wellbeing, and addressing health inequalities across the UK; enabling sustainable living and helping the UK’s reach its stated net zero targets; and intensifying our market making work for design by helping people access, understand and learn essential design skills. 

These are complex challenges which require more than one solution – requiring input from grassroots to government. We will use our experience and expertise to bring together a wide range of stakeholders to shape a prosperous, healthier and sustainable society. 

The bulk of this strategy was developed before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. As an agile and forward-thinking organisation, we are prepared to shift the emphasis of our work if necessary so we can best respond to this unprecedented situation.  

Download our Strategy 2020-24 Our Strategy 2020-24 outlines how we will ensure design is used as a force for change, helping us to tackle some of the toughest economic, societal and environment challenges in the UK and beyond. This document outlines our key priorities – improving health and wellbeing, enabling sustainable... Our Strategy 2020-24 outlines how we will ensure design is used as a force for change

Report — 23/03/2020

Enabling sustainable living

Across the world, there is grave concern about the about the future of our planet. The UN’s 17 sustainable development goals provide a framework for how best to preserve and protect our planet, its inhabitants and resources, and we have identified one of these goals – climate change – as our primary focus for encouraging and supporting sustainable living. Harnessing the power of design, we can bring about meaningful change. 

Case studies

KiwiCo: Inspiring the next generation of designers To find out who is out there developing educational solutions to design, we spoke to KiwiCo whose mission is to support kids’ creativity and encourage them to be makers and innovators. We spoke to KiwiCo, whose mission is to support kids’ creativity and encourage them to be makers and innovators.

Feature — 31/01/2019

Can the North lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution? The North can lead the fourth industrial revolution as it did the first. To achieve this however, we need to invest in design and, importantly, design skills. To achieve this however, we need to invest in design and, importantly, design skills.

Feature — 31/01/2019

The importance of design education Sarah Weir, Design Council CEO and Steven Kyffin, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Northumbria University talk about design education at the launch of the Design Economy 2018 at the Great Exhibition of the North. Sarah Weir, Design Council CEO and Steven Kyffin, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Northumbria University talk about the importance of design education.

Feature — 31/01/2019

Watch: The Design Economy 2018 – Education Malcolm Garret, Creative Director of Images & Co, talks about the importance of design education at the launch of the Design Economy 2018 at the Great Exhibition of the North. Malcolm Garret, Creative Director of Images & Co, talks about the importance of design education at the launch of the Design Economy 2018.

Feature — 31/01/2019

Equipping people with design essential skills

People with design skills contribute to a more innovative, resilient, productive workforce – one that is strongly placed both to deal with society’s complex challenges and bring about robust economic growth. But there is more we can do to help people learn these skills. We want to increase the use of design skills across the country, address current regional imbalances and – in doing so –safeguard the UK’s economic, social and environmental wellbeing.

Case studies

What happens when you bring 30 students together, living 5,976 miles apart, and ask them to... Back in October 2018, Joe McCullagh, Head of Design and Associate Dean at the Manchester School of Art, reached out to Design Council with a bold vision: he wanted to bring students from across the world together to form a global design studio and support them to develop ‘glocal’ design skills. Joe McCullagh, Head of Design and Associate Dean at the Manchester School of Art, reached out to Design Council with a bold vision.

Feature — 22/08/2019

Looking back on last year's Design in the Public Sector programme A brief look back at some of the public health challenges explored through our Design in the Public Sector programme last year. A brief look back at some of the public health challenges explored through our Design in the Public Sector programme last year.

Feature — 09/07/2018

Starling Bank – How design benefits business Starling Bank is a digital, mobile only bank based in the UK with a team of technologists, artists, money experts, designers and marketers. They are a brilliant example of how design is being used in new and innovative ways in order to grow the business and add value to the company. Starling Bank is a digital, mobile only bank based in the UK with a team of technologists, artists, money experts, designers and marketers.

Feature — 30/01/2019

The Design Economy 2018 – Page/Park Page\Park Architects is a renowned Glasgow based mid-sized architecture practice which has designed many iconic public buildings across Scotland. The firm is employee-owned and architects at all levels take an active role in the day-to-day running of the firm. A renowned Glasgow based mid-sized architecture practice which has designed many iconic public buildings across Scotland.

Case study — 11/12/2018

Improving the nation’s health and wellbeing

The UK is gripped by a health crisis. It also has the highest levels of interregional inequality than any other large wealthy country. Design has a vital role to play in improving our nation’s health and wellbeing. Through the development of better places, products and processes that work well for everyone, we can help create a healthier and happier nation.

Case studies

Uniti cars: From Sweden to Silverstone, the electric car revolution Swedish automotive start-up Uniti’s first eco-friendly city car will be built at a facility in Silverstone Park, home of the British Formula 1 Grand Prix. Swedish automotive start-up Uniti’s first eco-friendly city car will be built at a facility in Silverstone Park, home of British Formula 1.

Feature — 11/12/2018

London isn’t the only option – the growth of regional creative hubs Mike Rawlinson, Design Director and Founder of City ID, a city information and wayfinding design company based in Bristol, tells us how his organisation has benefited from being local and the introduction of their design award for students. Mike Rawlinson, Design Director and Founder of City ID, tells us how his organisation has benefited from being local

Feature — 11/12/2018

Watch: The Design Economy 2018 – Localisation The design, creativity and innovation that takes place in the regions throughout the UK, and how firms do not have to be based in London to flourish. Design throughout the regions of the UK, and how firms do not have to be based in London to flourish.

Feature — 10/12/2018