Design Economy

Discover the economic, social and environmental value of design in the UK.

We are delighted to bring you the latest findings from our Design Economy research programme.

The People, Places and Economic Value Report showcases significant growth of the UK design sector’s economic contribution and workforce as well as regional areas of design excellence.

It digs into the numbers behind design’s demographics and flags challenges to be tackled for the gender ratio, the future of the education pipeline and design exports.

We hope you use the findings to push for the change needed to make the design economy flourish.

Read the report

Mapping London's Design Economy at PDF

View the large-scale data visualisation to find out how design is spread across the city, key facts about borough’s from Camden to Croydon and the contribution it makes to London’s economy.

We want as many people as possible, from the design community to design commissioners, the business sector to government, to really engage with the big messages from the research and recognise that design is a powerful tool to be used right now.

Minnie Moll, Chief Executive,Industrial Design Council

We can see from this landmark research with the Design Council the growth, value and importance of the design sector across the UK and we must continue to advocate for the conditions needed to help design continue to thrive across the country.

Andy Haldane, Chief Executive RSA and Chair, Levelling-Up Commission

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Design can be used to address some of society’s most pressing challenges – from the coronavirus pandemic through to the climate emergency. Every day we consult with industry, government and organisations to advise them on how design can improve the things that matter most.

Our research is all about working collaboratively with people across the entire design economy to better understand the current state of design in the UK and its potential for the future.

Design Economy, with its ambition to explore the role that design can play to build back better and create a more just, healthy and regenerative world, provides us with a platform to do this.

Throughout the programme, we’ll consider the diversity of the design sector, its vital role in levelling up the UK’s regional economies, and the changes that must be made to ensure that design works for everyone.

Design Economy aims to help us understand the current and future value of design to the UK from a social, environmental and economic perspective.

Over the next three years we’ll be looking at:

  • the social and environmental value of design
  • the economic value of design
  • business understanding and use of design
  • public sector understanding and use of design
  • public understanding of design
  • regional variations in the use of design
  • how the design economy might evolve and change over time.

The Design Value Framework

We have developed a framework for designers and commissioners to identify and assess the wider social, environmental and democratic impacts of their work.

The framework builds on design sector specific tools, and provides, for the first time, a single framework for the whole of the design economy to use together, and across a holistic set of values. It will also be used in our forthcoming research to assess the value of the Design Economy.

By measuring and making these values visible, we hope to highlight the positive role design can play in urgent issues like the climate crisis, social justice and promoting diversity and prompt an industry shift to Design for Planet.