Ukrainian Design Ecosystem Map
(Design Policy Actions)

We need conceptual changes in design positioning in Ukraine's legislation, management and education. The legal framework we have today and the method of training personnel is aimed at working in an industrial, vertically integrated production. One of the critical issues is the distorted perception of the role of design. In Ukraine, manufacturers often turn to designers late in the design process when there is a need to package or restyle a product. This way, designers feel "not in their place" and prefer to appease the customer with a conventional "pretty" design than spend time proving something and educating the client. Ultimately, all parties take the more comfortable and safer approach, even though it narrows the development prospect.

However, it is possible to change the client's attitude. We need to change the discourse and create expert initiatives. As for the next steps, there are two different approaches:

1. The first approach is a strategy of small steps: Incremental changes carried out by a private initiative at the level of one project/object or within a single territory like a city district or a small town. Examples would be creative interventions in redesigning bus stop signs, landscape design of common areas and creating sites for creative recreation. During and after implementation, one should promote these efforts widely among the local populace and a broad audience. This furthers the project's values and ideas, providing a positive example and successful outcome to inspire and cause a natural desire to do no worse "than the neighbours". Notably, PR is sometimes disproportionate to the scale of fundamental transformation.

2. The other approach is the active cooperation between expert initiatives and the executive branch and legislators, so there were design ombudspersons in several agencies (for example, in the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministries of Regional Development or other municipalities). Such cooperation would ensure that design decisions (from websites to landscaping projects) are made by competent experts in the field and not by bureaucrats in a voluntary way. Launching experimental programs to prepare designers will be introduced in several leading universities. The primary condition for these programmes would be that among the teaching staff, not only theoreticians will be leading the classes, but also practicians with successful case studies in their portfolios. The learning process should cover the entire production chain, from the generation of ideas to implementation. They should graduate with the ability to create and sell their product to the consumer in order to compete in the modern market. Universities should be fully equipped with studios for prototyping and creative experiments. Such cooperation is only possible with established communication between the consumer, the producer, the investor, designers and the state.
Both approaches do not exclude but complement each other and equally require to represent the essence of design. We need to shape the public discourse and demand to transform separate creative businesses into a sector of the creative industries. Discussion within the industry must become fact-based to establish and develop the “mental map” of the design sphere in Ukraine, including the formation of game rules, consolidation of players of the sector, and a robust advocacy campaign.

Top Ten Actions:

1) Year of Design in Ukraine (national campaign)
A wide-scale promotional campaign aimed at democratising design among the general public, including:
2) Innovation Design Center
A centre that would become an influential institution that could consolidate the efforts of representatives of various spheres of the design industry (graphic design, motion design, fashion, industrial and product design) should be established. Such an organisation would inform about best practices and standards for ethical conduct and provide professional expertise. The centre would communicate to the public and business leaders the power of design and the opportunities it offers.
3) Creating an annual statistical data survey about the Ukrainian design industry. Directory of designers.
4) Launching an online platform with regular newsletter updates, tips and suggestions on events in Ukraine and worldwide.
5) Intellectual property support. Establishment of cooperation with lawyers protecting the rights of representatives of cultural and creative industries.
6) Support of Ukrainian designers abroad through the network of embassies. In 2017, delegations of industrial designers from Ukraine received positive reactions at Paris Design Week and Dutch Design Week.  Meanwhile, it was private initiatives.
7) Designers as part of government committees. The inclusion of designers into the process of design-making within governmental structures (for example, the implementation of Design Codes for cities or branding identities for regions).
8) Policy change. Holding workshops using hands-on methods to facilitate shared learning among policy-makers.
9) Video case studies. The creation of educational and documentary films about the successful influence of design in social contexts and government.
10) Development of Design Action Plans and Road Maps for design sectors and industry, including representatives of the creative industries and government.


Anna Whicher / PDR Design & Research Center,
Jaroslaw Belinski / Design4Ukraine,
Mykola Skyba / Ukrainian Іnstitute for the Future.