British design is leading us out of recession

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In January 2014, the government released figures showing the UK creative sector was outperforming all other major parts of the economy. The industry grew by 10 per cent in 2012, just as the country was bunkered down in the depths of recession. A major part of this growth came from design, with employment in the sector growing by 16 per cent. 

British design history to modern day impact

Design and creativity is, and always will be, incredibly subjective. Britain has led the way since the Industrial Revolution and has a heritage of great design that can be traced back from Isambard Kingdom Brunel and William Morris, to modern day designers including Norman Foster and Paul Smith. 

It is also a Brit, Jonathan Ive, who is the design influence behind of one of the world’s most valuable and desired brands, Apple. It’s worth noting that Apple’s share price has risen from $4.40 in 1998, when Jonathan Ive, as Senior Vice President of Design, launched the first iMac, to a current value of $533. Microsoft’s share price, in comparison, has gone from $11.98 to $38.11. 

Apple are just one of a number of global leaders that prove a design centric business strategy makes sense, delivering profitable return on investment. Another example of design leading the way out of the financial trenches is our own story. 

From zero to £6m turnover in five years

Just three months after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2009 and two months before the Bank of England dropped the UK interest rate to 0.5 percent, Paul Stafford and I launched DesignStudio. 

As we’re both creative, our mission was to put design at the forefront of our own business and at the centre of our client’s business. That translated in breaking down the established industry model where creative briefs were taken by non-creative team members, often leading to miscommunication and confusion on projects. 

We turned this on its head. The creative team are always at the forefront of conversations and work on a project from initial chemistry meetings right through to final delivery. This creative ownership was, and still is, key. 

The principle of putting design at the front of our business has proven a simple but effective model. Our clients appreciate the creative dialogue and speed in which design solutions can be achieved.

Our offer is now being picked up on the international radar following the great tradition of demand for the “British Design” way of thinking. 

Most recently we have just delivered a re-brand for a global company based in San Francisco who pride themselves on innovation and our design centric offering resonated with them. In return to be close to the US tech hub, our new Studios have just launched in San Francisco. 

Creativity starts in Key Stage 1

Design and creativity is a mind-set – it is about problem solving. This non-linear way of thinking I believe, can be applied to any problem in any business. It is also important that this is developed in education to continue and build on the strength of British creative design. 

This culturally important asset is helping drive the UK economy forward and we will continue to be a world leader in this, but only if we cultivate it in our children.

Ben Wright is the co-founder of DesignStudio.

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