New resource to help design in a downturn

Posted on 23 Dec 2008 by The Manufacturer

A new study by the Design Council has found that over half (54 per cent) of manufacturers plan to proactively pave their own way through the current economic plight by turning to innovative design. An online resource has been made available to help.

The Design council is a government funded national strategic body for design. “Our mission is to inspire and enable the best use of design to make the UK a more competitive, creative and sustainable nation,” it says.

From its National Survey of Firms 2008 the Council also revealed that almost a third of firms consider innovative design “integral” to their business. This is double what it was three years ago.

In response, the Design Council has created a new online resource to help businesses discover how design can help them in a downturn. It includes a free practical guide to finding and working with a designer, and case studies covering a host of small and large companies from different sectors who have bucked the recessionary trend through the strategic use of design.

This is available at

Design Council Chief Executive David Kester said:

“Recession is no time to be battening down the hatches. It’s the moment when design becomes absolutely critical to survival, growth and success – and it’s great to see that there’s a growing recognition of this within the business community.”

Case Study

Design Council member Designing Demand helped a garden accessories firm set up product development processes and build a brand – Yorkshire Flowerpots. Historically, Naylor Industries had primarily focussed its efforts on its guttering products as its high-quality plant pots were commanding very little market-share against cheaper, imported items.

The results were impressive: two years down the line Yorkshire Flowerpots sales have more than doubled and nearly 70 per cent of Naylor’s total sales now come from products they didn’t make five years ago. Earlier this year, the company won the best SME at the Manufacturing Excellence Awards.

Edward Naylor, now running the 100 year-old family business, said: “Designing Demand gave us the competitive edge we needed. It made me understand that design is fundamental, creating brands, products and an environment for businesses to move forward, not just sit back and wait to be attacked by cheaper competition.”