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Barbican to host World Design Congress 2025

The Barbican has been chosen as the venue for the World Design Congress 2025, when it returns to London for the first time in over 50 years. 

The prestigious Congress, which is run by the UK’s Design Council on behalf of the World Design Organization, invites key figures from the international design community as well as leaders from business, research and education to discuss and debate design issues of global importance. 

The Design Council is currently working with the Centre on Barbican Renewal, a project to future proof the Barbican’s spaces to meet the expectations of audiences and artists for the next forty years and beyond.

The announcement was made on Earth Day 2024, where the Design Council released the World Design Congress 2025 official logo, alongside visual interpretations of the Design for Planet theme from leading designers.

The Congress marks the 34th edition of the global event, which will take place at the Barbican in September 2025, in partnership with the London Design Festival – creating a big moment for British design on the global stage and highlighting its position as a key player in the international design community.

The two-day Congress, which will bring together 1,000 members of the international design community, will include elements such as talks, workshops and exhibitions – showcasing some of the most innovative design solutions to the climate crisis from British designers.

The UK’s Design Council was selected to host the Congress in Autumn 2023 by the World Design Organization. The bid was supported by UKRI, the Greater London Authority, the Mayor of London, DCMS and many leading design institutions. The event will put a spotlight on the UK’s design industry, a sector growing at twice the UK average and contributing £97.4bn in GVA to the UK economy.

The Congress was last hosted in London at the Southbank Centre in 1969 and attended by almost 1,000 delegates from 39 countries, featuring H.R.H Princess Margaret as the guest of honour. The event has more recently been held in cities including Tokyo, Hyderabad, Torino, and Montreal.

Alongside its iconic status and renowned cultural spaces, the Barbican was selected as the Congress venue due to its commitment to ‘Design for Planet’, the event’s 2025 theme and the Design Council’s flagship mission, which aims to galvanise the 1.97 million people working in design in the UK to design their way to net zero. 

The Congress calls for designers, and commissioners of design, to lead the way globally by creating the landscape and resources needed to put planetary needs at the forefront of design. Over 71 percent of designers think that demand for environmental design will grow in the next three years, but only 43 percent feel moderately or fully equipped to meet this demand, according to the Design Council’s recent Green Design Skills Gap Report.

The Barbican appointed the Design Council to support and provide design advice on our Barbican Renewal Programme, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to radically reimagine the Centre through delivery of improved public and creative spaces and facilities. The Barbican is working with an award-winning design team consisting of Allies and Morrison, Asif Khan MBE and Buro Happold to support the renewal, which will deliver a sustainable revitalisation bringing underused spaces into new creative use, all without adding a single square metre of extra building. The first phase of Barbican Renewal is supported by £25 million funding pledged by the City of London Corporation.

Minnie Moll, CEO of the Design Council said: 

“Both London and the Barbican represent the height of creativity, inspiration and design, which is why they are the perfect choice for the 2025 Congress, particularly with its focus on sustainability. The Barbican has demonstrated time and again that it is a world leader in event sustainability, and we look forward to developing the themes of the event around its incredible offering.”

Charlie Smith, Deputy Head of Sales at the Barbican, said: 

“We’re incredibly proud to have won an event that aligns so perfectly with the Barbican’s unique design, cultural offerings and sustainable values. We play an important role in providing a platform for artistic and educational work which discusses and develops solutions for our planet and this event is an example of that. We are excited to have been chosen for such a high-profile global event and look forward to welcoming delegates from around the world in 2025.”

As part of the announcement, today marks the release of the official logo for the 2025 London World Design Congress designed by Design Council Designer, Maryam Atta. Inspired by the Design for Planet mission logo, the central symbolic eye alludes to the cover of a 1955 archival issue of Design magazine by Hans Schleger, announcing the new logo for the iconic Design Centre in Haymarket.

The World Design Congress will be held at the Barbican in London on 9 and 10 September 2025. More programme information and tickets will be available early next year – to be the first to know more, please register your interest here.