RSA supports Design Council's ‘Design Economy’ report - RSA press release - RSA

RSA supports Design Council's ‘Design Economy’ report

Press release

Today (Thursday 21 July 2022), the Design Council releases its Design Economy: People, Places and Economic Value report.

Since 2015, Design Economy has been the most comprehensive assessment of the state of design in the UK, with its world-leading approach adopted around the world.

The report reveals that during 2020 one in twenty workers in the UK (1.97 million people), worked for a job within the Design Economy. Sectors include architecture, product design, fashion, digital design, craft and graphics plus those working design roles in other sectors, such as the NHS and financial services.

According to the report, the design economy is growing at twice the UK average, contributing £97.4bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK.

The report is supported by the royal society for arts, manufactures and commerce (RSA), which has championed the work of designers and the design economy for more than two centuries.

The RSA established the ‘Royal Designers for Industry’ title in 1936 to give recognition to outstanding designers and to promote the important contribution of design in manufacturing and industry. Notable RDI recipients include Barnes Wallis, Lucienne Day, Jonathan Ive, Richard Rogers, and Vivienne Westwood.

The RSA’s new Chief Impact Officer is Dr Andrea Siodmok, who was Chief Design Officer at the Design Council, leading the ‘Designs of the Time’ programme in 2009.

The RSA’s new mission – ‘Design for Life’ – recognises that progress towards a more resilient, rebalanced and regenerative world must come from solutions that are ‘designed’.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Andy Haldane, the RSA’s Chief Executive said:

“Design should be at the heart of driving jobs, skills and regional prosperity across the UK. Designers bring immense value to the places they are a part of, be it in working with communities to shape our public spaces and services, creating affordable and good-quality homes, or ensuring that our built environment and transport infrastructure are regenerative and benefit our planet.

“The RSA’s new mission – Design for Life – reflects the crucial contribution design makes in society, the economy and to the environment.”

Minnie Moll, Chief Executive, the Design Council said:

“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.”

Key data from Design Economy: People, Places and Economic Value report reveals:

  • The Design Economy contributed £97.4bn in GVA to the UK economy, equalling
  • 4.9% of total UK GVA
  • Design Economy accounted for over £70bn in exports in 2019, equalling one in every ten pounds from all UK exports and 18% of all UK service exports
  • London continues to be a powerhouse for design, home to a third of all design businesses generating 29.5% of all design economy GVA
  • *Scotland has seen the fastest growth: its design economy grew five times faster than the Scottish economy at 33% between 2017 and 2019
  • Digital Design is the faster growing design sector, increasing by 138% between 2010 and 2019, three times the rate of the UK’s digital sector
  • Rapid growth in digital design employment in the South West (110%), Scotland (88%), Yorkshire and the Humber (55%) and Northern Ireland (31%)
  • The design economy is still disproportionately male: 77% of designers identified as male in 2020
  • The design workforce needs to reflect the diversity of the world it designs for with 85.6% of managers in the UK Design Economy workforce being from a white background

Download the full Design Economy report and executive summary from the Design Council Website.

The RSA’s Design For Life mission can be downloaded from the RSA website.


Notes to Editor:

The research behind this report was undertaken by BOP Consulting and the Enterprise Research Centre. It builds on the methodology developed by University of Arts London Social Design Institute, BOP Consulting and the Design Council.

  • For further information about the RSA, Royal Designers for Industry and the Design for Life mission, please contact:

Steven George, Head of Media and Public Affairs, RSA
[email protected] / 07539 164 695

About the RSA:

The royal society for arts, manufactures and commerce (RSA) is a global network of more than 30,000 entrepreneurs, educators and innovators working together for the advancement of society, the economy and the environment. We believe in a better future, where we move from extracting for short-term gains to replenishing for the long-term and future generations. Our aspirations are not limited to doing less harm but are supercharged by the desire to do more good.

About Design Council:

The Design Council is the national strategic advisor on design, and champions design and its ability to make life better for all. It is an independent and not for profit organisation incorporated by Royal Charter. The Design Council uniquely works across all design sectors and delivers programmes with business, government, public bodies and the third sector. The work encompasses thought leadership, tools and resources, showcasing excellence, and research to evidence the value of design and influence policy.

About Design Economy:

Design Economy is the Design Council’s flagship research programme that identifies the social, environmental, and economic value of design across the United Kingdom. It demonstrates its economic prosperity, potential to address regional inequalities, and significant capability to support the UK’s drive to achieve net-zero. Research was undertaken by BOP Consulting and the Enterprise Research Centre at Aston University. The findings of the latest edition will be published in July 2022. / #DesignEconomy

Related content