Editor, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Design Researcher, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Design is everywhere, and we need to learn how to ‘redesign design’ to transform the economy in a way that benefits people, businesses and the natural world.
Sitting at the centre of every sector and across multiple scales, design has helped to create millions of beautiful things and trillions of beautiful moments.
Redesigning design can lead to meaningful transformation
Beyond the material world, design’s influence in our lives runs deeper. More than the sum of its physical parts or the total of its tangible outputs, design is a constellation of patterns and processes which are unimaginably powerful.
Over time, though, design has lost its way. Intentionally or not, it has sustained the structures of our wasteful and polluting linear economy and indirectly contributed to global challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss.
It is time to trace a new path. Learning – and in some cases re-learning – how to harness the quiet powers of design to help transform our economy into one which benefits people, business, and the natural world is not only possible but vital. One of the first steps on that journey is to understand that even design has been designed.
Redesigning design — the ultimate innovation challenge — is both a process and a journey.
Opportunity to get creative and shift mindsets
Surfacing the transformational potential of design’s unseen undercurrents can help us move away from seeing design as a force for the linear economy — in which minerals accumulated over millennia are extracted for products used for minutes — to a lever for systemic change in which products are kept in use at their highest value for as long as possible.
Redesigning design — the ultimate innovation challenge — is both a process and a journey. It might be messy and is frequently iterative. For businesses, it means focusing on setting the right internal conditions rather than only fixating on the right external outcomes. It means collectively leaning into our responsibility to imagine, question and act.
To be part of this design transformation, individuals, teams and businesses will need to learn how to map moving parts; make sense of complex systems; and measure impact according to a new North Star. This means a circular economy which eliminates waste and pollution, circulates products and materials and regenerates nature — by design.