What is the most exciting opportunity for design?

Posted on: 18/03/2022
Exciting Design Opportunity Animation - Experienced Automotive Designer and Engineer Working on a Concept Car Prototype Model.

This article features insights on exciting opportunities in 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 exciting opportunities in design.


Jo Barnard | Founder and Creative Director | Morrama

“The most exciting opportunity we have as Designers is creating user experiences that are better, more sustainable but without compromise. People expect that in order to make better choices they’re going to have to compromise on something and that’s not true. As designers, we have the power to give people options to create those beautiful products, services and experiences that are also better for the planet.”

View Jo’s vox pop video


Cat Drew | Chief Design Officer | Design Council

“The most important and exciting opportunity for design right now is Design for Planet. Design has had a huge impact admittedly on the climate crisis – overproduction of goods and things has brought us here but Design also has a massive opportunity to provide a pathway out and putting the planet at the heart of the design brief is so critical. Design has got a huge role in creating adaptable resilient places with communities; with driving a circular economy and regenerating natural resources; learning from Mother Nature (the designer in the world) and creating products and services that can make it easy and attractive and inclusive to live more sustainably. Putting design at the heart of the brief is the biggest opportunity for design right now.”

View Cat’s vox pop video


Joel Freedman Regional Innovation Manager | Satellite Applications Catapult

“I think one of the most exciting opportunities for Design to create positive change is at the intersection between emerging technologies and major global environmental humanitarian challenges. There are so many incredible technologies being developed – cutting edge emerging transformative technologies – but these are often developed by scientists and engineers in academic institutions and research labs that are quite far removed from the people who are at the forefront of understanding and tackling these major global challenges. I think design has an incredibly powerful role to play in finding the best way to bring together those with the understanding and context of challenges with those with the understanding of the capability of technical solutions and helping them to work together in the most kind of productive way to co-create, co-develop and co-design solutions that will have major positive benefits that can be felt worldwide.”

View Joel’s vox pop video


Ben Peace | Director of Sustainability | Valuechain

“Design is all about thinking bigger, thinking better. Thinking about people, across supply chains, about the end user, about aspects to do with the end of life of a product. If we, as we’re designing stuff, think bigger, that’s when we recognise opportunities to make better stuff to create better outcomes.”

View Ben’s vox pop video


Peter Graham | Director | Solutions Thinking

“The opportunity to design conversations for people or things who don’t usually have a voice for social or environmental change.”

View Peter’s vox pop video


Tim Kerby | Founder & CEO | Edinburgh Systems

“All design has the ability to create positive change in the world but one of the most unique aspects is linking real world problems to the solutions that are addressed. Younger designers coming into the industry don’t want to look at the low-level detailed solutions, but they want to see the impact for society. This is typically true looking at product development, environmental impact and the full life cycle of products as we go into a much more connected world.”

View Tim’s vox pop video


Paul Winstanley | CEO | CENSIS

“We tend to think of design in terms of the obvious so it’s about the user experience however where designers got a significant opportunity is in some much broader areas such as the relationship between design and trust.”

View Paul’s vox pop video


Martin Aston | Managing Director | Forvanda Ltd

“Engineering is entering a new era of transformation. It is design and engineering that takes scientific knowledge and delivers innovative viable products. It is a new generation of digitally proficient designers and engineers that will rise to this exciting challenge.”

View Martin’s vox pop video


Stuart Kelly | Technical Director | Systolic Ltd

“Design can provide a route between big ideas and practical engineering realities. Often when the problem is obvious, but the solutions are not, a multidisciplinary design team can do a good job of identifying the most promising directions to explore.”

View Stuart’s vox pop video


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

“The most exciting thing particularly now in design is its dynamism. This is also the biggest problem insofar as design has evolved incredibly rapidly over the last ten years – to incorporate transitions design and strategic design as well as human centred design. Design has the potential to be directed towards positive change. I think that also provides a series of challenges for designers in terms of understanding who they are and how they operate but it’s very exciting – the opportunity for designers to take on much greater and more strategic challenges.”

View Rowan’s vox pop video


Barry Warden | Managing Director | Wideblue

“I think the biggest thing that will drive change probably hasn’t been invented yet. I think that’s also the most exciting thing about design as there is always something new to develop.”

View Barry’s vox pop video


Merle Hall | CEO | Kinneir Dufort / Founder XXEquals

“The most exciting opportunity is to solve real life problems at scale to create design that is suited for everybody for every day.”

View Merle’s vox pop video


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

“What I find exciting about design is that it challenges our assumptions. I’ve lived in a world where people assume they know what solution is the right one and that it will have the right impact. Design helps us collaborate together and it gives us permission to have many ideas. When we have many ideas together we are much more likely to have the right ones that will have the impact we really want.”

View Clive’s vox pop video


Jamie Boyd | Principal Engineer | Invent Design Build

“The change we are most excited about is sustainability: focusing on the use and reduction of resources is driving us to increase the lifetime of products and making products for life.”

View Jamie’s vox pop video


Mark Hester | Co-founder | The Imagination Factory

“Since the invention of the transistor design has been fundamental in making sense of the digital technology in products that we use every day. We’re now moving into another era of rapid progress because of things like AI blockchain and quantum computing. These will come with their own challenges in terms of human interaction so I’m excited for the way that design can create positive change by taming the complexity in these technologies.”

View Mark’s vox pop video


Ivan Pecorari | Lead Experience Designer | Digital Catapult

“For too long design has been an unsustainable economic paradigm at the benefit of few privileged people and groups. I think that now, as a designer, we have the real opportunity to help find and communicate a new vision of progress that is different: more responsible toward a sustainable and inclusive world.”

View Ivan’s vox pop video


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

“The most exciting opportunity for design to deliver positive change is helping organisations and actually governments deliver and achieve net zero to address the emergency. This can happen at all levels within organisations under the system level but also in terms of individual products and services. That would be, I think, one of its biggest contributions.”

View Alison’s vox pop video


Gabriella Spinelli | Reader in Design Innovation | Brunel University London

“Good design is intrinsically democratic and inclusive, it recognises experience, expertise and diversity. In my view, the most exciting opportunity design can offer is to provide more people with the agency to decide how systems, space, place and services should be designed to meet their expectations.”

View Gabriella’s vox pop video


William Mitchell | Design Director | 4C Design

“There is a really exciting opportunity to make a positive change just by taking design thinking which is essentially just taking design thinking which is a process we are very familiar with as designers. We look at data, we look at the evidence, we look at research and we make deliberate decisions about a product for example and what’s best for a market or best for a user or an environmental impact and all these things that need to be considered at that level. Taking that thinking and taking it to a government level or a strategic level with business, on a social enterprise level where that kind of deliberate decision-making is actually evidence-based not just you know a hunch or something that we feel should be going forward. It really is about taking a step back, gathering that evidence and using the skills that designers have to make life better. In fact, it is a way of saying that we are essentially designing for life not just for a product or as an engineering project. That for me is a really exciting opportunity.”

View William’s vox pop video


Abi Hird | Design Innovation Network Lead | Innovate UK KTN

“At a project level design helps minimise the risk of failure this may seem mundane, but it can be transformative in complex and uncertain technology areas or if something disruptive is being attempted. Design is at its best when it is focused on better communication, externalising ideas and assumptions and removing ambiguity from conversations. In a world of polarisation and complexity, what could be more valuable than a discipline that allows empathetic and considerate exploration and testing of the points of view of other people, which places focus on the interfaces with other systems and other structures and, affords the opportunity to explore alternative futures?”

View Abi’s vox pop video


Liz Kotoulis | Head of Product | Twipes

“I think because we live in a time where many different generations co-exist with very different text skills like gen- Z vs baby boomers, a good design can make a product or a platform much more easy to access for many different people.”

View Liz’s vox pop video


Rich Wood | Creative Director | Cheddar Creative

“I think the most exciting opportunity for design to create positive change probably hasn’t been found yet and that’s kind of the point really, that’s the exciting part that innovation and new ideas can come from anywhere. There’s big problems that we are going to need to solve in the future and I think that design will really be at the core of that; Business as usual, the old way of doing things – that isn’t working, that has to change and design is hopefully the key that is going to unlock these solutions.”

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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