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Valencia welcomed the sixth Spanish National Congress of Design Association (6_ENAD) September 20-21 with a focus on how design-driven solutions can be a driver of regional development on the public agenda.

Nearly 200 representatives from across Spain met at the Feria de Valencia and Las Naves to renew the dialogue and collaboration between public and private agencies within the design sector and beyond. Attendees also explored how design thinking can raise competitiveness and employment, as well as improve social cohesion and living standards.

The project Designscapes, through the intervention of its consortium member Econcult of the Universitat de València, brought along three heavyweights in Europe’s design sectors for the purpose of initiating debate on Spanish design policy by sharing the experience from Finland, Lithuania, and the UK. The three European design experts are Mrs Audronè Drungilaitè, member of the board of directors of The Bureau of European Design Associations (BEDA) and executive director of Lithuanian Design Forum, Mrs Jo Ward, designer and investigator at PDR international Centre for Design and Research, UK, and Mr Petteri Kolinen, CEO of Design Forum Finland.

Photo: Chuan Li

Through four parallel interactive workshops, a number of positive conclusions were reached. Some reflections can be summarised as follows:

  1. Design can be a connector between politics, industry and society; design techniques and methodologies coming from the application of creativity should be diffused through the system of innovation at the regional level.
  2. It is necessary to create a national design body, with a clear definition of its characteristics, functions and priorities; and to develop indicators for measuring a global map of design.
  3. Developing design policy for bridging different agents requires the engagement of public and private agents to help drive the competitiveness of firms.
  4. A clear analysis is needed of the ecosystem for design promotion in Spain, and a series of concrete action plans for “design” itself must be implemented by the public administration at different territorial levels by playing to their respective strengths.

The Econcult team also took this opportunity to conduct a formal introduction at the Congress of the current Designscapes’ Open Call for pilots, which prompted much interest and commitment to submit applications to the Designscapes project.