Creative Economies

Focus: The Design Industry

Summary of the data

With just over 10’000 businesses and about 25’000 employees, the design market is among the largest submarkets of the creative industries in Switzerland. The ratio of businesses to employees suggests a trend towards segmented structures. The changes in the sector since the last report are positive across all indicators, a result that only the software and games industry, the film industry and the architecture market can match. The number of businesses is up by 9.2%, employees by +4.9%, Gross Added Value by +2.9%, turnover by +6.3%: The design industry has successfully carved out a place for itself between a local DIY approach and international branding.

Table 1: Design Industry 2013 in Switzerland (Creative Economy Report 2016: 37)

A Note on Method

This report attempts to capture the complex and varied processes of creation, production, mediation and utilisation in the design market. The report relies on official public statistics, for which the most current data available is for the year 2013. There are clear advantages to using public data, such as the continuity and professional quality of the surveys. However, it can be a challenge to map the comparatively rough official systematics onto the more fragile and diverse structures of the creative industries. Especially, when the dynamics of the market are far ahead of the statistical limits, as is the case with the rapidly changing and expanding design market. Official statistics also have a built-in time lag, due to the rigid surveying methods and categorically defined standards of quality. We therefore complement the hard data with selected short statements by actors and organisations from the submarket of performing arts. These are up to date, subjective, and only represent a specific perspective on the field. They cannot claim to represent the sector comprehensively. Instead, they offer an insight into current discussions, concerns and development with which the past development and projections suggested by the statistical analysis can be compared. A comparative approach brings the sector into sharper focus.

Voices from the design market

The following quotes from actors in the design market exemplarily confirm the economic success and entrepreneurial enthusiasm suggested by the data from 2003. For example, the data for the Creative Hub (source 1) demonstrates that there is a high demand for start-up projects and that a large number of them successfully launch on the market. This suggests that the number of businesses will continue to grow. The networking efforts described in the second quote (source 2) shows that the sector operates with a high level of self-awareness and actively seeks out new development opportunities. The third quote demonstrates a high level of interaction in the sector with new developments in technology and media but also close integration with economical and political initiatives.

“Last autumn, a bachelor student at the University of St.Gallen, Daniel Muggli, carried out an insightful study on the impact of the Creative Hub over the last 2.5 years. Briefly summarized, this was the main result: ‘The coaching activities of the creative hub have an average success rate of 85%. The network activities have an even higher success rate at 93%. On the level of ‘economical outcomes’, due to the random sample we can only draw conclusions on the economic success of the projects surveyed. Of the 25 projects we looked at, we verified nine founded businesses and six in the process of doing so. According to the participants, the 25 projects achieved a total turnover of 320’000 CHF in the last 12 months before the survey and have already marketed 54 different products.”

Reference: Creative Hub (2014): “News: Impact des Creative Hub”, (accessed 14.11.2015)

To improve their networks, over a dozen businesses from the Winterthur creative industries came together in August to found the Design-Forum Winterthur. The Forum is intended to help its members to gain a more visible public profile – especially to help them compete for public funding with design-specific aspects.

That design can mean many things is something the association’s president, Marcus Ellinger, explains at length. He emphasises that the design industry is a very specific sector of the creative industry, which can range from culture to media. And he clarifies that a design service like that which studio of 10 employees offers begins long before the development and creation of a product. For example Ellinger and his colleagues advise clients on market strategy before they plan to (re-) launch a product.

Reference: Neue Zürcher Zeitung (29.10.2015): „Wie ,designt‘ man Ideen?”,
 (accessed 30.10.2015)

“As we chart our future, we need creative confidence, new knowledge and skills
to navigate complexity and uncertainty, and to stay competitive. Design bridges big ideas and innovations. In the economy of choice, design also helps to create empathy with people, meaningful- ness and new possibilities for ventures, enterprises and societies. BODW 2015 (Business of Design Week Hong Kong) creates a kind of pan-universe view on how creative endeavours and co-creation transform cities, activate spaces and connect with communities. It also fosters entrepreneur- ship and ventures, effect new immersive brand experience, and achieve good design of services and products. Good design, after all, creates lasting brand value and contributes towards economic and societal well-being.

In this edition, we have new business of design features such as Internet 
of Things (or perhaps better Internet & Things) and Crowdfunding to underpin their role and significance in the new economy. The ‹New Economy› mindset will also help to spill creativity every- where in our society and work places and build up creative confidence crucial for startups and organisational renewal.

The Fashion Ecosystem Forum is 
a timely programme. In advancing Hong Kong as the hub of fashion in Asia, we need to stimulate creativity and effect vibrant, innovative and responsible development. We also need to tackle challenges holistically and address issues pertinent to future fashion education, nurturing of creative talents and sustainable trade and industry development.

The BODW Brand Asia Forum remains a core programme along with other sessions namely Design For Asia, Space & Design, Communication & Design, and Product & Design. Through case sharing, we will get to sense brand’s future in the new economy and how design creates empathy with people and build immersive experience, activates spaces and communities and contributes to social innovations. Through storytelling, big data-driven insights and strategic use of digital and technology, we will be inspired on how Design creates engaging user experience and breeds brand authenticity.

The Culture & The City day programme on the last day of BODW 2015 aims to enlighten us on visionary design and cultural leadership in transforming cities and communities. Impactful deployment of design and the arts will lead to growing city vibe and identity, urban- ism and advancement of cities to become better places to live, work and play.”

Reference: Business of Design Week (25.11.2015): “#BODW2015: Design. Cities. Future.”,!BODW2015-Design-Cities-Future/chjv/56558d340cf2a1cf6d185825 (accessed 27.11.2015)

Related Links
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