Seeing local as a context for creative intervention and making a difference.

Click on map to explore projects or browse index tab above

Flyer for London Design Festival show


Coinciding with the commencement of UK ‘Localism’ legislation this web-resource and touring exhibition maps modern designers ambition to forge meaningful and positive engagement with locality, thus responding to contextual pressures and enabling more valued contributions to society, the economy and the environment.

Once shunned as a word, ‘local’ has re-emerged as a methodological basis that contemporary practitioners, companies and governments are reimagining and utilising as a cutting edge context and rich resource for meaningful creative sustenance and social, political and environmental benefit.

At one time, a simplistic ‘measure of a designer’ was their capacity to create ubiquitous, cloned products judged by number of units sold globally by market monopolies. But against a back-drop of social, economic and environmental pressure and rebalancing, contemporary practitioners and companies are activating change in impactful and viral ways through a more direct relationship to cultures, communities and resources that exist within identifiable, localities.

This critical and reflective process has revealed a consistent, desire in designers and craftspeople to form resonant meaning through creative endeavor that ‘makes a difference’. However this impact is formed less through dictatorial-design and more through collaboration, via means of intimate open-networks and from materials loaded with provenance and authenticity not synthetic, injected mouldings of hollow homogeny.

Concepts and proccesses such as product miles, craftivism, participatory ‘bottom-up’ and collaborative design coupled with available desktop manufacturing technologies and DIY factories with development and promotional channels such as open sourcing, hyper-local media and social networking – these approaches are signposting potent ways to help address and comment on key issues of resilience in 'decentralised' society.

‘Local’ does not mean narrow or closed, but celebrates diversity, plurality and inclusivity through cosmopolitan connectivity and identity. ‘Design activism’ is not about protesting, but applying effective design and craft practice in the pursuit of meaningful, positive change and sustainability.

The map and index above provides an insight into a range of creative approaches that we want to grow – it is not exhaustive and is by no means complete. If you would like your project adding to the resource please register to community21 and then add content to the map using the tab above. Orr you can email the project's founder Nick Gant Please include some pictures (no more that 1mb each) and text (no more than 100 words) and a web address to link to.

Thanks to our sponsors and supporters The University of Brighton Community and University Partnership Project and The Faculty of the Arts, Community21, 100% Design and Media Ten, Brighton Eco-Technology Fair and Exhibit Printing.

On Our Doorsteps Exhibition

The 'On Our Doorsteps' team have built a touring exhibition which presents innovative approaches to challenging issues and contemporary contexts and explores design activism by engaging and visiting different localities. The exhibition uses a unique mobile trailer with integrated mapping tools and demonstration workshop. It is a light-weight solution, with a nomadic aesthetic that provides the practical basis for impromptu exhibitions and public engagements, talks and demos in any location (outside or indoors).

Press / talks

Feature in leading design publication Icon.

Feature on Core77

"On Our Doorsteps stand, was a perceptive installation by the University of Brighton and collaborating bodies showcasing projects by designers working as local activitists, either by making new products from materials scavenged off nearby streets or creating schemes to galvanise communities" (Rosy Greenlees, Executive Director or The Crafts Council writing in The Huffington Post).

Discussion at V&A Design Salon Jan 2013 - chaired by Prof Guy Julier


Nick posted on 31 March 2014 13:31

I know - this is what we are finding that responses are as diverse as the environments where they exist.

Lutz posted on 24 June 2013 08:21

Great to see 'diversity' of projects (not what we necessarily think of when we think of local!)