Stay informed with the latest news to chart the course of design’s ever-changing tides!

BEDA | BEDA Design Forum Kaunas 2022, in image: Piotr Swiatek

Shaping BEDA's Next Policy Plan

Author: Piotr Swiatek (PDR & BEDA Board Member)

“Policy is whatever you choose to do or not to do.”

This paraphrased quote from Thomas Dye, a political scientist, is one of my favourite definitions of policy. It is short and all-encompassing, highlighting the fact that not taking action is also part of every policy. Otto von Bismarck, statesman and diplomat, in turn, defined policy as “the art of the possible, the attainable… The art of the next best”. In contrast, Tom Loosemore, who wrote the UK’s first Government Digital Strategy (GDS) and was leading the design revolution in the GDS, said that “policy is 500 pages of untested assumptions”.

Design not only needs a policy, but design also needs to be political. It is political. All design decisions are political – do we develop the next obsolete gadget or a useful solution, what resources, and materials we use, do we build a motorway or a cycleway, do we create inclusive or exclusive service?
Already over a decade ago, Tony Fry, design theorist, called for the awareness of politics of design.

“In a world of rapid urbanisation, increasing population pressures, structural unsustainability, plus the likelihood of increased conflicts over natural resources and a massive explosion of environmental refugees due to climate change, the relationship between design and the political will become more apparent and more important. In the face of this situation design has to be made overtly and proactively political. Design has to become a politics. For design to become politicised, it has to directly confront politics.”

At BEDA, we aim for our policy to be ambitious, aspirational, future-shaping and confronting the political environment. In essence, politics are the activities associated with making decisions in groups, and this is where design also can add value.

For over fifty years, BEDA has successfully represented the voice of European design. Our efforts have played a pivotal role in facilitating an unparalleled investment in design, as evident from the inception of the European Design Innovation Initiative and the adoption of the Action Plan for Design-driven Innovation in Europe during the early 2010s.

Additionally, our influence extends to the global stage through initiatives like the Montréal Design Declaration, and on a broader scale, the integration of design as a method for innovation and comprehensive transformation through the New European Bauhaus initiative.

Nonetheless, in a world that is in a constant state of flux, the promotion of design remains an ongoing endeavour that demands unwavering dedication. Therefore, we do not rest on our laurels.

Since I started chairing the Policy Working Group two years ago, my main objective was systematising BEDA Policy activities and jointly with members co-design the focus for the next BEDA Policy. Our interim Policy Plan for 2022 and 2023 revolved around the themes of “Taking stock, leveraging impact, and looking ahead”.

In the process of “looking ahead”, developing the next policy priorities, we have been collecting insights from our European design community to best represent your voice:

  • Policy Workshop at BEDA Forum in St. Etienne in May 2022 focused on BEDA’s policy legacy and future of policy actions.
  • BEDA Open Door Dialogue on Design Policy in September 2022 discussed the design policy situation and priorities in member regions.
  • BEDA Forum in Kaunas in October 2022 used collaborative deliberation and creative mapping to identify policy areas for the future design policy and draft potential design innovation missions.
  • The above has informed the annual BEDA member survey which was open throughout May 2023 and focused on design policy issues which. We received 38 responses that are going to inform formulation of the next BEDA Policy. (The summary of survey responses is available in the Member Zone).

Following that, we will convene the Policy Working Group to process all the data and insight and develop an ambitious plan for the future of design in Europe that will be presented at the BEDA General Assembly 2024.

Last updated: 12/02/24

Open Menu