What are design policies

“Design policy” can be a bit confusing term, as it is used with a variety of meanings, most of them strongly interrelated. To make things a bit clearer from the outset, let’s begin ruling out the similar term “policy design” which refers to the systematic development of effective and efficient policies in any possible field, an effort that is way beyond our scope.

Conversely, we talk about design policies meaning basically three types of initiatives:

Any policy that aims to promote or accelerate the use and acceptance of design both by the public and the private sectors, as well as by the general population
The use of design practices, methods, and approaches to tackle the different challenges we face as a society, as a problem-solving tool
The integration of different branches of design expertise in public and private policies, in order to create meaningful experiences that are also environmentally and economically sustainable and socially inclusive

The Design Policy Conference will focus on these three kinds of phenomena that illustrate the pivotal contribution of design to the public realm.

What are the objectives of the Design Policy Conference?

There’s a key question that lies at the core of this Conference: if design has proven to be such a powerful tool to solve wicked problems, enable innovation, enhance the quality of people’s lives, and build a more livable world, why is it not being used more broadly to address the matters that concern us as a global society? What can we learn from small-scale experiences and successes? How can local, regional or national design efforts inspire world-scale actions? what is preventing us from using design as the keystone for a better future?
These are the issues that we will try to discuss in this meeting. This is why we’ve arranged different panels to cover the diverse aspects of this challenge: education, public awareness, urban, regional, and national design plans, and social design. In this regard, we are especially interested in how such design can be used for social innovation and policy action. Our objective is to start this important conversation and collect all the significant findings we may come up with, but also to get the attention of politicians and policymakers, as we need them to go beyond campaign promises. It is key to build a political consensus around the importance of design, firstly because laws, guidelines, and plans have to be taken by governments and supranational institutions, and secondly, because public policy has the power to influence the rest of the stakeholders and our society as a whole.