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Interview

Meet our Patrons: HØLTE wants to tackle design’s ‘tunnel vision’

Inclusion is important for everyone – both big and small businesses

If you ask a small business owner about diversity and inclusion in the design industry, they might point to a big corporation. Someone with a HR team or a large enough workforce to include multiple departments.

But independent studio HØLTE is one of Design Can’s Patrons because they initially found it so useful for their own work.

Whether it was hiring people through the Jobs Board or learning more about inclusion on the Resources Page, Design Can’s services provide both practical guidance and positive support. HØLTE founder Fiona Ginnett says, “Design Can is an incredibly powerful voice and valuable resource for the whole industry, no matter the size of your business.”

“Their campaign is vitally important to the future of the design industry,” adds Sean Reilly, operations manager. “And we're proud to be right behind them.”

The design industry’s tunnel vision

An inclusive approach is more than a positive social value, says HØLTE.

“Without the due focus on equity and inclusion, we operate with tunnel vision, limiting the pool of talent and ideas that is so vital to creative practice,” Fiona explains.

The lack of diversity within the design industry is a problem. As new talent and perspectives try to enter the industry, they can find a lack of acceptance if they don’t fit the mould of what is expected. How can the design industry claim to serve society, if it doesn’t adequately reflect it?

“By confronting bias and constantly challenging ourselves to do more,” Fiona continues, “we can build a truly diverse team of employees, consultants and subcontractors. Not only does this enrich our studio culture and its output, but also the wider community in which we operate.”

If you’re interested in being an inclusive business, a great first step is becoming a Design Can Patron, using the Jobs Board to boost your recruitment and learning more through the Resources Page.

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Interview

Design Can feature on Spur JP

Design Can goes international!

For Japanese fashion and lifestyle magazine SPUR December issue Design Can was included on their article 'What is ethical future trend research?'.

Written by a fashion futurist Geraldine Wharry, we were featured as a resource platform and community that believes the design industry should be representative of the world it serves. We sure do!

You can have a look here.

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Interview

Design Can interview for The Extra Nice Newsletter

Design Can founder and director Sabine Zetteler was interviewed by Matt Alagiah, editor-in-chief at It's Nice That for their Extra Nice Newsletter.

She talked about why Design Can was born, our journey and future plans. If you want to know more about our story and why we do what we do, you can read it here.

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Article

Design Can feature on LDF 2022 Red Book

We are thrilled to see a four-page feature on Design Can and our survey 'What's Changed?' on London Design Festival 2022 Red Book!

The 2022 Red Book features 40+ exclusive interviews including the London Design Medal Winners like Sir Don Mccullin and Joycelyn Longdon, LDF Project designers from Sony Design, Sabine Marcelis, Stanton Williams, and Sam Jacob Studio.

Designed by Pentagram, the Red Book explores many narratives around London and design.

You can learn more about the book and purchase it here.

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Article

How to become a creative changemaker and help push the industry forward

We recently were featured on Creative Boom's article on How to become a creative changemaker and help push the industry forward.

It is a huge honour to be listed as one of the resources to 'Keep on learning'. This has been our mission since day one: to encourage people to keep learning, keep questioning, keep challenging the status quo in the design industry and beyond. Thus, we are thrilled to be among their recommendations along with s Fuse MCR, Intern and What is your working class? podcast.

You can read the full article here.

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Interview

Sujata Burman guest edits Design Can

Ahead of London Design Festival 2022, we invited Sujata Burman to guest edit our September newsletter.

As the editor of the London Design Festival, she’s continuing her mission to engage wider audiences about the crucial role design can, and should, play in society. We are honour to have Sujata in our community. We are working on some very exciting partnerships with her and the LDF team!


Meet Sujata and discover her five recommendations here.

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Jobs Board launch

Today, we announce a major new addition to the role Design Can plays in championing inclusivity in the creative industry: our Jobs Board.

Having launched three years ago, it’s as clear to us now as then that recruitment remains one of the main challenges companies and organisations face in being truly inclusive. We are launching our Jobs Board to connect the Design Can community with employers who take inclusivity seriously.

We want our talented community to find jobs, and believe the exclusionary culture of hiring in the creative industry needs to be opened up, broken apart and built anew. Employers will pay for access which will make this a sustainable platform.

If you’d like to help, the best thing to do right now is to spread the word. Let’s spread the word, and change the conversation around hiring and inclusivity together.

Visit our Jobs Board.

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Article

‘What’s Changed?’ Survey Findings

There’s a lot of conversations about changing the industry. But how much has actually changed?

When we announced our Survey Campaign, this wasis the question we posed to a broad range of creatives – from junior designers to business owners and institutional leaders, across age ranges, gender identities, racial background and disability. The goal was to get a comprehensive picture of their perspective on action around inclusivity, and to use this to identify a clear plan of action.

Our report, developed with the support of a data scientist, demonstrates how perceptions of inclusivity and action have a huge impact on how creatives engage with institutions and business, and influences the decisions they make. The headline findings are stark, and point towards a serious crisis of leadership within the industry – but there’s also positive signs which should galvanise further action.

You can read the report’s findings here.

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Article

Meet Nieves Noha & Zara Shasore; the team behind the What’s Changed? survey

We love to champion the people behind our projects. For our ‘What’s Changed?’ survey campaign, Design Can’s first major research project, we compiled a huge range of data to develop a comprehensive picture of how people felt about how much the industry had changed in recent years.

Two people were essential in helping us crunch the numbers, and to tell that story visually.

First up there was data scientist Nieves Noha from Futuros Deseables, an experienced foresight analyst and strategic consultant who Forbes has touted her as one of the top 40 futurists in Spain – for the second year in a row. Together, we combed over the answers and insights from over 200 respondents to produce the hard-hitting stats in our report.

Secondly, there was Zara Shasore, the brilliant graphic designer helped us transformed the data into insightful – and impactful – graphics using our new brand identity. Having graduated with a BA in Graphic Design from Leeds university in 2018, Shasore has worked on a broad range of projects since in freelance and full-time roles. Having her on our team was an absolute dream.


Check out her work on Instagram, Behance and The Dots. We’ll definitely be working with her again

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Interview

Priya Khanchandani guest edits Design Can

Legend Priya Khanchandani guest edited our June newsletter.

Priya is a writer, curator and commentator on design; as well as the head of curatorial at the Design Museum in London and a member of our Steering Committee.

Passionate about pushing for positive changes in our industry, she is a never-ending source of inspiration.

Meet Priya and discover her five recommendations here.

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Interview

Siraaj Mitha guest edits Design Can

We invited Siraaj Mitha to guest edit our newsletter as a way to congratulate him for his new role as Head of Accelerate at Open City - the charity dedicated to making architecture and neighbourhoods more open, accessible and equitable.

Meet Siraaj and discover his five recommendations here.

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Interview

Cha Chaan Teng guest edits Design Can

Wei Prior, Director of graphic design studio Chat Chaan Teng, was part of the original team who shaped our brand identity, and more recently along with his team at Cha Chaan Teng, he’s returned to shake things up.

We invited them to guest edit our April newsletter to fill the beginnig of the Spring of the joy and energy these bunch irradiate.

Meet the Cha Chaan Teng team and discover Wei's five recommendations here.

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Our new Patrons: Kickstarter, Pearson Lloyd, Zetteler and Royal Designers for Industry

In the three years since Design Can launched, working closely with our voluntary steering committee, we have grown in size and scope – and today we announce the next big step in our journey.

As a limited company with a charitable purpose, we’ve achieved a lot on a small budget. Last year, we welcomed the addition of our first paid employee, a part-time project manager who joined in June 2021. When we announced our Patron Scheme to the world, it was in the hope that we would find the resources to continue and expand our activities.

Today, we are beyond delighted to announce our first patrons: Kickstarter, Pearson Lloyd, Zetteler and Royal Designers for Industry.
Our steering committee believed it should be possible for the industry itself to fund inclusion efforts, rather than seek public funding. We are continuing to welcome new patrons – please reach out to us if you are looking for ways to help.

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Event

Social Space at V&A, March 2022

On Friday 12 March 2021, we returned to the V&A Museum for another Speed Mentoring session.

The V&A Social Space was an afternoon of free activities, workshops, food, and music. From a print-making workshop with Sadie St. Hilaire of Rabbits Road Press, to music with Misery Party, it’s a free and open celebration of youth and creativity.

Design Can was in attendance with our second Speed Mentoring event, a relaxed session where we connect leading industry voices with young people interested in a creative career. By bringing them together, we hope to inform and inspire the next generation – especially those who without the ‘connections’ to get their foot in the door.

Our wonderful mentors included:

  • Francesca Perry, architect and co-founder of Resolve Collective,
  • Reuben Christian, edu-trainer and coach
  • Samar Maakaroun, graphic designer
  • Sophie Sellu, woodworker
  • Pereen d’Avoine, architect
  • Raafaye Ali, illustrator
  • Ansel Neckles, educator and graphic designer
  • Parvinder Marwaha, architecture, design and fashion programme manager at the British Council


Want to hear about future Design Can newsletters? Sign up now.

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Interview

James Lee guest edits Design Can

To keep empowering our community at the beginning of the year, we invited Design Can Steering Committee James Lee to share some tips on funding.

James' extraordinary career has seen him take a number of roles championing equity and inclusion. Thus making him the best go-to person to find out about any and all upcoming funding opportunities.


Meet James and discover his five recommendations here.

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Interview

Reuben Christian guest edits Design Can

Events and talks facilitator, podcast producer and, as he likes to define himself, edutrainer Reuben Christian was our January newsletter's guest editor.

The beginning of the year can be a rather dawnting time: endless lists of goals and dreams we plan to achieve which often don't materialise.

To start the year on the hightest note, Reuben shared some tips and tricks to smash 2022.

Meet Reuben and discover his five recommendations here.

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Article

Design Can 2021 Annual Report

2021 was a busy, strange and rewarding year for Design Can. More so than anyone could have predicted.

But during this challenging time, we’ve witnessed a dramatic shift in how Design Can works. We’re continuing to evolve from being a behind-the-scenes platform that posts information and shares ideas, into what we initially envisaged: a platform and campaign that not only discusses and advises, but also connects and empowers people to come together to effect change.

From sharing the results of our ‘What’s Changed?’ campaign, to hosting a youth-focused event in partnership with the V&A during the London Design Festival, and launching a monthly newsletter guest-edited by 7 industry leaders, none of this would have been possible without taking on our first employed member of staff: Bisila Noha.

You can read our full annual report here.

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Interview

Bisila Noha guest edits Design Can

December 2021 was a very special month for London: after four years in the making, the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre opened its doors on London's bankside.

Led by Design Can team member Bisila Noha, the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre is a safe, sober, intergenerational and intersectional heaven for the queer community.

Meet Bisila and discover her five recommendations here.

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Interview

Sumitra Upham guest edits Design Can

To celebrate Sumitra Upham's recent appointment as Head of Public Programmes at Crafts Council, we invited her to guest edit our November newsletter.

A curator who strongly believes that making can empower under-served communities, she previously was senior curator of public programmes at the Design Museum.

Meet Sumitra and discover her five recommendations here.

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Interview

Shawn Adams guest edits Design Can

Architect and writer Shawn Adams guest edited our October newsletter.

Shawn also teaches at CSM or co-founded POoR (Power Out of Restriction), a social enterprise that supports young people to develop communities.

A unique human we were extremely delighted to have curating our newsletter!

Meet Shawn and discover his five recommendations here.

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Event

Speed Mentoring at V&A, September 2021

We love bringing people together. It can be easy to shrug off ‘networking’ as all about cynically climbing the career ladder – but as so many jobs and opportunities in the creative industry come through informal webs of friends of friends, college mates and so on, it matters who gets invited into the conversation. That’s why we collaborated with the V&A Youth Collective to hold a mentoring and networking event for young people aged 18-24.

On Sunday 19 September, during the London Design Festival 2021, we wanted to connect inspiring creatives with young people interested in pursuing a creative career at a time when the industry comes together. The event focused on sharing experiences, insights and advice to empower the next generation.

Events like this make a small but tangible step towards the change we want to see. Shout-out to the wonderful mentors who joined us:

  • Benni Allan, architect
  • Samar Makaaroun, graphic designer
  • Mac Collins, furniture designer
  • Joseph Henry, architect and civil servant,
  • Wei Prior, graphic designer
  • Simone Brewster, furniture and jewellery designer
  • Shawn Adams, architect, writer and co-founder of POor Collective,
  • Priya Khanchandani, head of curatorial at Design Museum
  • Akil Scafe-Smith, architect and co-founder of Resolve Collective


Want to hear about future Design Can newsletters? Sign up now.

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Interview

Meneesha Kellay guest edits Design Can

In September 2021 ahead of London Design Festival and our first mentoring event at the V&A Museum, we invited Meneesha Kellay, curator of festivals at the V&A and Design Can steering committee member, to guest edit our newsletter.

She introduced her work and gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the V&A’s LDF 2021 programme.

Meet Meneesha and disover her five recommendations here.

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Interview

Sound Advice guest edits Design Can

Our August newsletter was guest edited by the Sound Advice: the platform exploring spatial inequality in architecture through music, co-hosted by Pooja Agrawal and Joseph Henry.

Earlier that month, as part of our second birthday celebrations, the Sound Advice team made a playlist full of bangers. You can listen to it now here.

Meet the Sound Advice team and discover their five recommendations here.

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Intoart guest edits Design Can

We invited Ella Ritchie, co-founder and director of the South London art and design studio Intoart, to be our newsletter's first guest editor.

Intoart is a collective of artists and designers with learning disabilities working from their studio in Peckham. Moreover, Ella is one of the members of our Steering Committee.

Meet Ella Ritchie and Intoart and discover Ella's five recommendations here.