What are design policies?

What are design policies?

By Kike Correcher, director of World Design Policy Conference

Design, like public health, environmental quality or culture, contributes to the common welfare of society, and needs to be recognised and supported by governments. Design is often labelled as a business domain, but it has as much to offer to the private economy as it does to the smooth functioning of institutions or the well-being of communities. This turns design into a cross-cutting policy issue, as it can contribute to and provide solutions in all relationships between people and their habitat.

How to handle this multifaceted relationship between policy and design? There are several possible answers, and some of them will be discussed at the World Design Policy Conference that will take place at the Palacio de Congresos in Valencia on the 3rd and 4th of November 2022.


There are many initiatives that public or private organizations have launched in recent decades to promote and facilitate a broader use of design. Some of them at a local or regional level, others at a national level, and even from the European Union. It is time to gather all these experiences together and ask ourselves what we might learn from each of them, and whether it is possible to act on a global scale as well.

We are facing a historic moment in which the great challenges affecting us directly are those concerning the global community: climate change, digitalization, inequality, peaceful coexistence, health. These are situations with no obvious answer, and we face the risk that the solutions provided will generate new problems. Design has often proven itself capable of finding ways out of what are known as “wicked problems”, due to its ability to reformulate frames of reference and focus attention on people’s experiences. Not using design to address global challenges is to forfeit the opportunity to move towards a desirable and exciting scenario.


Hence, design policies are not only those encouraging society to use design, but also those that lead by example, showing how public administrations can successfully integrate both, the methods and procedures of design to tackle problems, and the different disciplines that make up the profession: communication, spaces, products, services, experiences, digital, etc. However, our conference will not be limited to celebrating success stories. We will also delve into the factors that can contribute towards a more fruitful relationship between design and politics.

Therefore, on one hand, we will discuss design education, and how to orientate the professional profile that is facing increasingly complex challenges that are becoming more and more distant from traditional design. On the other hand, we will address the challenge of public understanding and awareness of design, since it is not possible for our society to embrace design if the citizens are not familiar with the concept and its meaning.

The ‘user-orientation’ factor of design, and the political focus on decision-making for living in society, must result in design and politics understanding each other. It is inevitable that they speak the same language, but mandatory that they collaborate effectively to improve people’s lives.