What does the future of design look like?

Posted on: 16/03/2022

This article features insights on the future of design from designers and innovators working in the sector.

The Design Innovation Network is a collective of designers and innovators from across the UK. Together, they’re charged with finding answers to some of the world’s most significant challenges, to help introduce positive change and shape our collective future.

In this article, we asked some of our network members about their views on the future of design.

Jo Barnard | Founder and Creative Director | Morrama

“The future of design is less. We have to do more with less as designers and we have to start educating consumers to do the same.”

View Jo’s vox pop video

Cat Drew | Chief Design Officer | Design Council

“The future of design looks a little bit different from how it is now. In the future designers will work much more across boundaries; working with other designers to take a really holistic approach and with other professions like engineers, philosophers, and ecologists; people who work in care, tech and AI. We need everyone’s skills to work together. Designers are amazing at fusing it all together. I think designers will be focusing not just on the economic value of what they produce but also on the wider social and environmental impacts. Designers will see more people and non-humans as co-designers in the process – thinking about businesses communities, AI as a designer, and nature of course.”

View Cat’s vox pop video

Ben Peace | Director of Sustainability | Valuechain

“In the future we’re going to need to get better at designing things that don’t create negative impacts on the environment but instead create positive impacts that regenerate our world. We need to provide the current crop of designers (and the next up and coming wave of new designers) with the tools and with the mindset to enable them to do that.”

View Ben’s vox pop video

Peter Graham | Director | Solutions Thinking

“Our focus and our responsibilities are shifting away from being able to control the system towards influencing an existing system, so we need to think about how we design specific changes to existing complex systems.”

View Peter’s vox pop video

Tim Kerby | Founder & CEO | Edinburgh Systems

“The future of design is Systems because many of the simple problems have been solved and as we move into high levels of complexity and interconnectedness. For instance, net zero and smart cities. We have to start looking at the bigger picture and outside of the individual products and services we are creating. The bigger impact we have on society requires a systems thinking and design thinking approach.”

View Tim’s vox pop video

Paul Winstanley | CEO | CENSIS

“Historically designs tend to engage with our visual sense, and to a certain extent our audible reaction to it as well. However, if you look at it from an extrasensory point of view, the future of design is very much about how we engage all of our senses.”

View Paul’s vox pop video

Martin Aston | Managing Director | Forvanda Ltd

“An effective use of digital systems in advanced mathematics will transform the way we deliver design and engineering. Such transformation is key to enabling co-creation and the assurance of increasingly complex products. We need a new generation of enthusiastic and skilled designers and engineers to support this.”

View Martin’s vox pop video

Stuart Kelly | Technical Director | Systolic Ltd

“I think the future of design is probably going to be very similar to the history of design. For sure there are going to be new tools to help with design capture and prototyping and communication, but fundamentally successful designers will still depend on a disciplined design process, imagination, thoughtfulness and good understanding of materials and manufacturing.”

View Stuart’s vox pop video

Rowan Conway | Visiting Professor of Strategic Design | University College London

“The future of design has to be learning to be more adaptive. Design thinking captured the hearts and minds of many practitioners around the world because it facilitated moving faster through strategic problems. It is challenged by bigger and more systemic questions. How design becomes less in the foreground and more the facilitator is going to be quite interesting. Design needs to be less of a big ticket and more process, by virtue of what is really adaptive. Being adaptive and being agile is a really important role for future designers.”

View Rowan’s vox pop video

Barry Warden | Managing Director | Wideblue

“I think the future of design has to have sustainability at its heart. I’m optimistic that we can create a more sustainable future. I think it’s our responsibility.”

View Barry’s vox pop video

Merle Hall | CEO | Kinneir Dufort / Founder XXEquals

“Whatever your opinion is on design thinking, I believe we should be focused on the challenge not the solution. I also believe that diversity is important in terms of the team, in that it mirrors the society that we’re designing for, but ultimately the designer needs to become a conduit for the end user.”

View Merle’s vox pop video

Clive Grinyer | Head of Service Design | Royal College of Art

“My prediction for the future of design is that it is present in all the decisions we make all the time, that the tools of design are available to us all; that we all have the agency to understand the impact of our decisions and know how to make those decisions in a human-empathetic, in a system-empathetic, in a planet-empathetic way, and be conscious of how we can make those decisions. Design will be integrated into everything we do rather than some sort of separate specialism. My prediction for the future of design: integrated into everything we do.”

View Clive’s vox pop video

Derek Liddle | Owner | Invent Design Build

“We see the future of design integrating new technologies such as quantum technology and human assistive technology in an open-source collaborative environment with virtual workspaces assisted by artificial intelligence. We will have a focus on creating customised local products for individuals, with no focus on mass production.”

View Derek’s vox pop video

Mark Hester | Co-founder | The Imagination Factory

“The future of design is to see it continuing to pervade all levels of society, embracing the challenge to make things better and make better things.”

View Mark’s vox pop video

Ivan Pecorari | Lead Experience Designer | Digital Catapult

“The future of design has to be collaborative in two ways. First, the designer needs to work more closely with other disciplines like engineering, biology technology, but also with policymakers, artists, or journalists. Secondly, the designer needs to design with people and the planet, not for people and the planet. We will need to hand over the power and control to the people who will actually be impacted by the decisions.”

View Ivan’s vox pop video

Alison Prendiville | Professor of Design for Service | University of the Arts

“Design will be even more multifaceted than it is today. I think there will be a greater acceptance of it working at systemic levels, not just within products and services, but also at policy levels and also helping organisations deliver their strategic aims, through the co-creation of knowledge within the organisation, and also externally with a whole variety of different stakeholders.”

View Alison’s vox pop video

Ellie Wooldridge | Human Insights Team Lead | Connected Places Catapult

“There will be much more emphasis on regenerative and inclusive design in the next [several] years. I think that with things like climate change, a lot of people are having to adapt already. We’re all going to have to adapt. There will be much more iterative design; lots of people becoming designers. There will be lots of hacks at home, lots of rapid testing. We’ll be living with this change. I think that’s quite exciting. Obviously, we have Internet and data platforms where everyone will just be sharing these ideas – I think there will be loads of rapid fresh prototyping and trialling of ideas and sharing ideas with each other.”

View Ellie’s vox pop video

Gabriella Spinelli | Reader in Design Innovation | Brunel University London

“Design thinking has proven effectiveness in many sectors and disciplines. So I think the future of design is pervasive. I personally would like to see design affecting more meaningfully the Health and Care sectors.”

View Gabriella’s vox pop video

William Mitchell | Design Director | 4C Design

“A lot of people are talking about the digitisation of design and essentially using data to design new products for example. Actually, the creative process relies very heavily on experience and tactility and just being in the moment and that’s something that humans, especially if you’re designing for humans, is best done at a level where people are interacting and using their brains as opposed to data. I mean data for example is always as a result of an action and that action needs to be designed in the first place. So to use data, to use something that’s from the past essentially, so the future of design is really going to be a creative tactile process and a very human process, which for me is an exciting prospect.”

View William’s vox pop video

Abi Hird | Design Innovation Network Lead | Innovate UK KTN

“We are going to become increasingly aware of the consequences of poor technology decisions. Not just economic business failures but the implications for society and the environment. The imperative and urgency for carefulness and considerateness is only going to increase in the future. Good design and asking, “Are we doing the right thing?” as well as asking “Are we doing the things right?”. “Asking are we doing the right thing?” will be a given for technology developers, innovators, policymakers, and society as a whole.”

View Abi’s vox pop video

Liz Kotoulis | Head of Product | Twipes

“I think the future of design is going to be more inclusive. I think it’s going to make more people comfortable in a given space or using a certain product regardless of their ability, their gender, or the colour of their skin.”

View Liz’s vox pop video

Rich Wood | Creative Director | Cheddar Creative

“The future of design? Well, I think lots more people are focused, I think technology will play an even bigger part than it is now and you know, who knows what technological advances are coming down the pipe. I hope that design plays a bigger part in management strategy really. I think yeah, having a stronger voice, a bigger seat at the table can only lead to more meaningful innovation.”

View Rich’s vox pop video

Get Involved

Find out more about Design Innovation Network, and contact Abi Hird, the Design Innovation Network Lead at Innovate UK KTN, to discuss getting involved and collaborating with this community.

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