Skip to content


The State of Design in the UK

Our new research for the Design Economy 2018 report

Image courtesy of Page\Park

The Design Council has launched their most ambitious research initiative to date, the Design Economy 2018. Building on their pioneering 2015 Design Economy report which measured the value of design across the UK for the first time, the 2018 version provides updated estimates, along with in-depth analysis of the scope and impact of design in the UK and its value to the wider economy.

To enhance the Design Council’s quantitative analysis of the sector, we were commissioned to develop a series of in-depth profiles of firms using design in interesting ways. These included design-intensive companies whose main function is design, as well as design active firms which are non-design companies but have design as a core part of their DNA.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Design is a high value and high growth sector in the UK: The design economy generated £85.2bn in gross value added (GVA) to the UK in 2016 - equivalent to 7% of UK GVA and outpacing the growth rate of the UK economy as a whole
  • Design supports significant job creation and employment in the UK: In 2016, there were 1.69m people employed in design roles, and as of 2017 there are 78,030 design-intensive firms operating in the UK
  • …but there is a major diversity challenge that the design sector in the UK needs to address: The UK’s design workforce is predominantly male (78%), and women in the sector continue to earn less than their male counterparts. BAME designers make up just 12% of senior and managerial roles in the sector.
  • The firms featured include The Guardian, Monzo, Page\Park, Fjord, City ID, Studio Moross and MAP Project Office.

    For this, we travelled across London and the UK spending time with these companies to understand how they are using design and how its role is changing, how their capability and skill areas are adapting and expanding, and how these companies are responding to wider technological, political and economic factors.

    Highlights from our research can be found throughout the report, with the full profiles to be rolled out in the coming months.

    You can view video case studies produced by BOP of Map Project Office, Fjord (part of Accenture) and City ID on the Design Economy homepage.

    - Rebecca Greenwald, Researcher