Author Bielle Bellingham, First Published in House & Leisure 


Design is one of the most powerful tools we have to shape the future, and as a discipline, it sits at the nexus between ethics, innovation, commerce and creativity. As technology advances at an unprecedented pace, and our awareness of sustainability and social responsibility deepens, design, and designers must continuously adapt and innovate to confront these evolving challenges, reframing them as opportunities.

The ability to create aesthetically pleasing, functional, and sustainable solutions that address both user needs and broader societal goals is critical to the success of all design projects in future. That’s why we as designers must stay on top of the latest technologies and societal trends, and remain committed to ethical and environmentally responsible practices. By doing so, together we can harness the power of design to shape a better world for us all.



Although global challenges like the climate crisis, inflation, and energy scarcity can create feelings of uncertainty and insecurity, we’re beginning to see a shift in attitudes;  rather than feeling overwhelmed and fatigued by these challenges, we’re starting to yearn for positivity and abundance in our lives. Designers and architects are beginning to respond by incorporating more uplifting elements into their work. By focusing on creative, playful design solutions that bring joy and inspiration, designers can create spaces that promote feelings of optimism and possibility.


Social responsibility as a design trend involves creating products and spaces that have a positive impact on society, including promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion. It’s about creating products and spaces that are accessible and inclusive to all people, from diverse backgrounds and cultures, including those with disabilities, and that address social issues, such as poverty, inequality, and climate change.

Image House of Europe Mobile Pavilion / Public & culture. Mykolaiv, Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine), 2020-2021 Photo: ©Yevhenii Avramenko


Sustainable design is rapidly becoming a ubiquitous aspect of all types of design, including product, architecture, and interior design. It offers not only environmental responsibility, but also economic and well-being benefits for both individuals and businesses. Designers are incorporating more innovative and creative solutions that integrate environmental, social, and economic considerations into the design process.



Designers are prioritising local needs and values by embracing a "do-it-together" mindset and working collaboratively with stakeholders such as users, clients, and communities. This approach allows for greater flexibility, adaptability, and sustainability in design, as well as more responsive solutions to the challenges of modern life.

Image  photo yongjoon choi


Vernacular design strategies draw on local traditions, customs, and materials to create unique solutions that reflect the social, cultural, and environmental context of a specific region or community. These design approaches prioritise sustainability, functionality, and cultural identity, emphasising the importance of creating designs that are both aesthetically pleasing and socially responsible.


The next generation of Africa’s designers are reasserting the potential and power of design to create meaningful change. They are leveraging the cultural credibility of design, including the reinvention of traditional techniques, to create sustainable solutions and products with wide commercial appeal that tackle social and environmental problems, both locally and globally. With renewed confidence, and a commitment to upholding the legacy of excellence in craftsmanship, African designers are creating sophisticated products that are globally relevant and covetable.

By incorporating social responsibility as a design trend, designers can create products and spaces that not only look good but also contribute to a more equitable and sustainable society.

Image photos courtesy of A.P.C.