Once again, this year’s London Design Festival outdid itself, indelibly pinpointing our great city as the design capital of the world. With hundreds of city-wide installations, events, and inspiring talks over the course of 9 days (from 16-24 September), leading global minds and change-makers came together to showcase visions for the future of design.

The Global Design Forum, a flagship thought-leadership program of the annual London Design Festival, took centre stage this year. In collaboration with the Forum, Pearlfisher co-curated a full day of talks at the V&A Museum, unveiling our new design philosophy Design Intelligence, that transcends traditional design disciplines.

From harnessing the power of AI to addressing the ever-escalating forces of nature, we curated a day of talks, panel discussions, and debates featuring some of today’s most influential creative thinkers. Our aim was to amplify why the future now demands design intelligence more than ever to address real-world challenges. The overarching takeaway from the day’s talks? That empathy, in which design intelligence is grounded, is the critical driver for the development of impactful design solutions.

Here are our top 5 key insights from the day:

  1. We are facing a challenge of design pollution – Jonathan Ford, Pearlfisher’s Partner & Group Creative Director, set the tone for the day with a keynote presentation, raising a compelling question that would guide the day’s discussions: “In a world where ‘design’ is accessible to everyone, anytime, and anywhere, how can we distinguish between truly remarkable and influential design and mere noise?”
  1. Why more emphasis on design education will create future positive living – Education took the spotlight in a panel discussion, highlighting the importance of imagination and creative problem-solving as essential skills for shaping a better future across all sectors and industries. The panel, led by Jonathan, featured distinguished experts, including Cat Drew from The Design Council, renowned artist Pablo Valbuena, Akis Evangelidis, Co-founder of Nothing, and Rowan Williams, Creative Lead at Panasonic Design Flux.
  1. Is creative AI really the golden bullet? – The impressive cross-section of experts in this field – including Suhair Khan, Founder & Director of Open-ended, Kadine James, a versatile leader in creative technology, Dr. Ali Eslami, a Director at Google DeepMind, and Ben Ditto, the creative director of Ditto, gathered to explore the ascent of AI. They delved into its role in facilitating swift content generation but also emphasised the challenge it poses: in the wake of its remarkable accessibility and output, we find ourselves facing a deficit in the human qualities of creativity, empathy, and originality in design.
  1. Culture is defined by design and the legacy we leave behind This over–riding theme was that we need to emphasise the importance of design as a reflection of culture. Addressing this in the context of climate change, Pearlfisher Partner, Sophie Maxwell opened up a debate with Artist and Designer, Tae-Young Yoon, Senior Architect and Project Manager, Snøhetta and Elissa Brunato, Founder of Radiant Matter about the potential for design to learn, mitigate and adapt from nature’s own resilience.
  1. The future needs more design intelligence – We are a world in constant and overwhelming transformation. Design Intelligence is a focused and purposeful new mindset and approach to cut through the noise. Expressed with human-centric bold thinking, new ideas and globally accessible symbolism, it draws together and becomes a leap beyond all emotional, fluid, intellectual and emotional intelligence – using creativity on a grander scale to solve the current and future problems of our world. 

If you would like to know more about Pearlfisher’s insights on Design Intelligence – please feel free to reach out to our team: [email protected].