The Challenges Affecting the Widespread Uptake of Responsible Design by Commercial Design Consultancies in UK and Ireland
Vicky Lofthouse, Norman Stevenson


This paper recognizes and responds to a prior lack of understanding regarding the factors that shape designer’s opportunities to engage in more responsible design and identifies a myriad of complex elements at play. Through in-depth qualitative research with 27 design consultants and 4 leading academics in the UK and Ireland, insights into industrial design practice which bridge this knowledge gap and provide a valuable foundation upon which future work to engage design in responsible design practices, have been generated. Multiple priorities; acting predominately in response to the requirements of their clients; and the fact that consultants are not the final decision makers, all limit the opportunity for designers to engage in responsible design. However there is also a clear value-action gap that appears to be driven by widespread lack of understanding as to how to undertake responsible design; a lack of recognition of the commercial benefits it can bring; and a general lack of confidence in engaging with these topics. If commercial community of United Kingdom is to captialise on the enormous potential that design has to enact responsible design, more sophisticated understanding and examples which relate to business objectives and metrics are required.

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