The Foundation welcomes the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) as a Partner

March 09, 2021

Today the Foundation welcomes the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) to its network as a Partner, following a long-standing relationship dating back to 2011. The partnership will aim to significantly spread the idea and practice of circular design across both networks, create an empowered community, and ultimately drive global change.

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The partnership focuses on advancing the circular design agenda and educating and engaging communities around the topic of circular design. This will be done by co-creating tools, resources, events, and projects to inspire designers, increase understanding and encourage day-to-day practice.

The RSA has been at the forefront of significant social impact for over 250 years, but more recently, the society has played an important role in supporting the circular design movement - seeking ideas and solutions to design challenges and building up a unique community of over 30,000 fellows.

The Foundation has successfully delivered on several design projects with the RSA, in particular, a two-year partnership with the Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative, which saw £1 million awarded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The partnership focused its efforts on building tools and directly engaging with design institutions, the next generation of design talent, and innovators to inspire them to reimagine products, business models, and systems for a circular economy. The project dramatically scales awareness and gives a clear understanding of the benefits that applying circular design brings to fashion.

We are looking forward to increasing the ambition level among our networks and communities through this partnership and encouraging a movement towards embedding circular design as the norm.

To celebrate our formal partnership and convene our global communities around the topic of circular design, on Thursday 11th March the Foundation and RSA are hosting 'Partnership for Change: A community networking experience'. The open-access event will introduce our work in progress and explore stories from across our network of design practitioners.

The journey so far...

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  • The RSA hosts the Foundation's 2016 Disruptive Innovation Festival Live Launch event.


  • Simon Widmer, Design Network and Creative Lead at the Foundation, speaks at the RSA's Student Design Awards briefing on circular design tools and methodologies that students can use.
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  • The Circular Design Case is launched in collaboration with the Foundation and IDEO’s Circular Design Guide - an immersive learning experience and design challenge where applicants can think in systems as well as reflect upon interventions to make a system more circular. The RSA’s Josie Warden was on the judging panel and the winner was announced during the Foundation’s Disruptive Innovation Festival.


  • The Foundation takes part in the RSA’s Student Design Awards with Philips, creating a brief called ‘The Circular Emergency’. The brief asked students to design a product or system that uses circular design principles to make emergency medical care more effective.
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  • The RSA’s Josie Warden speaks at the Foundation’s Disruptive Innovation Festival on 'Abundant Materials and Universal Manufacturing'. The RSA’s Rebecca Ford also joined us for a session on ‘The Circular Emergency’ design brief for the Student Design Awards.


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  • The Foundation's Make Fashion Circular initiative is awarded £1 million by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery to support circular fashion and design projects run in partnership with the RSA. The aim of the partnership is to engage the student community through design challenges, events, workshops, and communications. This milestone saw the start of our Make Fashion Circular collaboration with the RSA.
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  • The Foundation's Make Fashion Circular initiative contributes two circular design briefs to the RSA’s Student Design Awards. 1) A Make Fashion Circular brief, where students were tasked with addressing the waste and pollution problems that the fashion industry creates. 2) A Moving Pictures brief, where students were asked to create an animation to accompany the audio clip 'Fashioning a Circular Future' - narrated by model Lily Cole.
  • The RSA and Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative collaborate on 3 design workshops to explore a circular economy for fashion. The workshops were targeted at those interested in tackling the two Make Fashion Circular briefs at the Student Design Awards.
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  • The RSA creates the Regenerative Future’s Programme to demonstrate how a regenerative future could look, act and feel and incorporating the RSA’s circular economy ambitions.
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  • The Rethink Fashion Learning Journey is launched, a collaboration between the RSA and Make Fashion Circular that brings together a group of 12 inspiring creatives on a 4-month learning journey to explore the transition to a circular future for fashion.
  • The RSA's Director of Design and Innovation, Joanna Choukeir joins the Foundation’s Circular Design Leaders network.


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  • Our latest collaboration with the RSA, is the Partnership for Change event - a community networking experience that celebrates our formal partnership and convenes our global communities around the topics of circular design.

Find out more and register to attend.

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