As design policies and national design strategies are becoming more prevalent in developed countries, there is a clear nudge to governments’ improved understanding on the positive value of design and design-led economies. This new context of support and awareness is developing in contrast to the reality that some regional areas continue to operate in troubled economies and societies that place design at the bottom of its priorities for policy making. As a devolved government that operates within the UK, Northern Ireland (NI) has elements of socio-economic deprivation and a troubled history of conflict. While wider research indicates it has the weakest design economy in the UK, there is limited understanding or identification for the reasons behind it. This research uses a grounded theory approach to observe the culture nuances (tacit habits, behaviours and perceptions) amongst the NI design community and builds a framework of ten recommendations that can inform policymakers towards considering a policy for design in the region. It exposes a design culture that is insular yet resilient and reveals broader perceptions of a society and government that both undervalues and misunderstands design. While most policy labs build upon participatory, collaborative and co-design methods to engage with stakeholders, this research uses grounded theory and inductive reasoning to develop a theory from within a design community, laying the foundations for policy making to begin.
Associate Professor, Design and Creative Technology, Torrens University, Queensland, Australia
DESIGN POLICY, DESIGN ECONOMY, DESIGN CULTURE, GOVERNMENT, ECOSYSTEM, PRACTICE, PROCESS