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Circular Design Assembly: Design weeks bringing circular economy to life

May 12, 2021

During April the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the British Council, held its first meeting of the Circular Design Assembly - a two-day symposium bringing together 13 leaders of international design weeks, festivals, and biennials on the topic of circular design.

The Circular Design Assembly was established to create a platform for international collaboration, where attendees could explore ways to embed circular economy principles into the fabric of their design weeks. These events have an important role in inspiring the creative community in the transition to a circular economy, as they can reach and energise a global audience of designers and creatives.

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The Assembly’s plenary session on day one included a range of speakers: such as Maxwell Mutanda, Kamonnart Ong, Joe Iles, Rosa Rogina, Darshana Gajare, and Adrian Jankowiak, each sharing another perspective on circular design. The visual summary above from graphic facilitator Viola Tschendel Clark provides insight into the topics covered and insights from the event.

Workshops on day two of the Assembly focused on exchange between leaders around how to embed circular economy principles into design weeks and explored collaborative projects to activate and equip the global design community.

British Council collaboration - the journey so far.

The Circular Design Assembly builds on the close collaboration between the Foundation and the British Council. The collaboration has focused on sharing circular design practices more widely, nurturing cross-cultural collaboration and mutual exchange within an international community of designers.

Circular Futures Lab 2018. Images from British Council, Photography by Rui Pignatelli
Circular Futures Lab 2018. Images from British Council, Photography by Rui Pignatelli

2018 - Circular Futures Lab

The Circular Futures Lab was initially piloted in 2018 and brought together a multi-disciplinary group of six leading creative practitioners and designers from countries across the South East Asia region. The programme focused on exploring the future of making and circular design through collaborative experimentation, circular design strategies workshops, sharing sessions and exchanges with UK sector professionals.

Circular Design Lab 2019 Images from the British Council, photography by Alice Whitby
Circular Design Lab 2019 Images from the British Council, photography by Alice Whitby

2019 - Circular Design Lab

The project’s success inspired the 2019 Circular Design Lab, which brought together ten leading creative practitioners and designers based in countries across Sub Saharan Africa. Bringing together design practitioners from various disciplines the lab supported the delegates in progressing their individual projects through mutual exchange, new inspirations and prototyping of new circular strategies in digital and physical activities. You can listen to the stories of two designers, Isatu Harrison and Maxwell Mutanda, who were part of the 2019 Circular Design Lab in this video.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is excited to announce that The British Council has joined the Foundation’s Network to continue the fruitful collaboration.

Circular design enables people to create regenerative, diverse, and inclusive systems and integrate the principles of the circular economy from the outset.

You can start your own circular design journey with these resources:

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