There are lots of business and design conferences out there. Whether you love or loathe them, deep down you know it’s good to get out, hear about new ideas and meet new people. Maybe you’ll find some inspiration for your next project, or your next job…? So which are the ones to go to if you particularly want to learn more about design thinking? Here’s our pick of conferences coming up in or near London in 2017 that focus on design thinking, service design and innovation.
We’ve listed ones that aren’t just aimed at designers, but anyone who is interested or involved in change and how you make it happen. Some of these conferences are now regulars in the calendar and some are new, some are large, some more intimate. Why not give one or two a go? We certainly will do.
Service Design in Government London > 8th-10th March 2017
This is the perfect conference for anyone involved in designing or commissioning public services. You can hear from speakers from the UK Government Digital Service, award winning specialist consultancy Snook, as well as other experts in service innovation from across government and beyond. You can even hear about how to design better forms, an apparently simple part of lots of services but easy to mess up without some thought.
Future Festival London > 30th March 2017
Trend Hunter is bringing a taster of their innovation conference Future Festival to Europe for the first time. It promises to be fast-paced and bring you all of the essential content from a bigger event they run in Toronto in Canada. You’ll find out about global trends, innovation methods and access toolkits to help put ideas into action. You can even have a free personal assessment to learn about your strengths and weaknesses and how to be a better innovator.
D&AD Festival London > 25th-27th April 2017
This year will be the second D&AD festival, set to be an exciting mix of talks, tours, workshops and lively social events. It will coincide with judging for the annual D&AD Awards for advertising and design. This means you will get to mingle with the great and the good from the design world as well as new award-winning talent. This is not strictly a design thinking conference, but the range of content is set to be broad. Last year Vince Frost delivered an engaging keynote talk about how design thinking can improve our lives. We’re keeping a look out for what will be on the agenda this April.
Read more about last year’s D&AD festival on Creative Review. Thanks to
What Design Can Do Amsterdam >23rd-24th May 2017
Social change is the focus here, and how design can help make it happen. This conference is growing in stature, because of the quality of the speakers (who are not the usual suspects) and the range of different people who go. WDCD also run a global challenge each year that is judged and announced at the event. Last year, focussed on creative solutions to address the refugee crisis. David Kester our founder and MD will be helping to host this event again. The picture of him above was taken during the last WDCD event in São Paulo and tweeted by one enthusiastic participant [@]. Why not come along and meet him and other amazing innovators.
London Design Festival & Service Design Fringe London > 16th-24th September 2017
The London Design Festival is a calendar event for many people in the UK and beyond. The Festival is now huge. With talks, fairs and exhibitions all over the city, there truly is something for everyone. Alongside the main festival, there is also the Service Design Fringe. This small but growing set of events aim to spread the word and share new thinking about service design and design thinking. We’re putting it in our diaries and keen to see what’s coming up in 2017.
If you want to read more about the last London Design Festival, head over here. Catarina Matos, our Design Researcher recommended things to see and do at the last one.
Design Thinking Conference Amsterdam > 26th-27th October 2017
A brand new design thinking conference is being developed by Arne van Oosterom, our friend and partner in Design Thinkers Academy in Amsterdam. Arne says he doesn’t really like conferences, so he’s trying to make this one different. It will be the first conference primarily about design thinking. This means he aims to take people out of their comfort zones and add a bit more theatre than you find at most events. He has a theatre/ film director and a philosopher among others helping him to make his vision a reality. We’re looking forward to getting involved. Read Arne’s first thoughts on the conference here.
Global Innovation Forum London > 1st-2nd November 2017
The forum will discuss the latest trends in innovation, design, creativity, R&D and new product development. It brings together a highly innovative group of people, including experts from big corporates, entrepreneurs and inventors .They even promise some techie teenagers to add a different perspective. Previous speakers have included trendsetters from Google, Virgin Galactic, Netflix and Alibaba to name a few, and we’re expecting they’ll be another impressive line up this year.
Service Design in Business London > 21st-22nd November 2017
The conference will return in November 2017, although there isn’t any specific date yet.
This is a great conference for anyone whose goal is to design or commission services that truly meet customers’ needs and make a positive impact on business. It comes from the same people that run the Service Design in Government conference mentioned earlier. It’s similarly practical and hands-on with a range of inspiring business speakers. Last year, leaders from Lloyds Banking Group, Telenor and service design agency LiveWork presented among others.
We appreciate that this won’t be a comprehensive list of events. If you know of any other interesting conferences coming up, please let us know and we will add them to this list!
Mel Taylor is our Marketing director. She has led marketing, research and innovation for organisations in the public and private sector and for NGOs. Formerly Head of Marketing and Innovation at NatCen Social Research, she is passionate about ensuring that the customer’s voice is heard.