Design’s response to the crises of 2020

RSA Event / Online



  • Design
  • Enterprise
  • Climate change
  • Social innovation
  • Social justice

2020 has presented huge challenges for us to respond to.

An unprecedented global pandemic. The worst global economic recession since the Great Depression. The tipping point for systemic racism. Growing polarisation and conflict. One of the biggest non-nuclear explosions of all time. An alarming increase in wildfires across five continents.

It is human nature to design for need, to design for better, to design for change. We design at our best in times of urgency and crisis, embracing uncertainty as space for creativity and imagination. The crises of 2020 have created the perfect conditions for timely, relevant, optimistic and proactive responses, amongst those of us who lean the most into that designer mindset – whether by nature or nurture, and whether we identify as designers or not.

This event brings four 2020 crisis responders together to tell their stories of triumph and failure. From the thinkers creating Covid19 response models for health and care communities in the UK, to the designers innovating towards carbon neutral cities in Zagreb. From the innovators improving bushfire community resilience in Australia, to the tech entrepreneurs reducing polarisation and conflict through social media in the US and Kenya. Storytellers come from the design community and beyond, from grassroots to institutions. What they share in common is their design mindset, their resilience in the face of 2020 crises, and their openness to share their learning with humility.

In partnership with the Social Innovation Masters' Programme (MDes) at