The Catalan design sector was analysed collecting economic data and identifying weaknesses as well as potential growth and consolidation opportunities.
From a strategic point of view, design is crucial and necessary for the country’s competitiveness. We see this in terms of innovation, for global industry reach (including production, services, trading, etc) and as a factor for improving the quality of life of its citizens. Catalonia and Barcelona hold international recognition for their design sector, and it is thanks to the professional talent, the educational offer, the associative network and the clout of promotion entities, all of which generate synergies and benefits across other strategic sectors in the region. In order to strengthen that sector, it is essential to gather data to gain better understanding of the actual situation. We need this specifically from companies and professionals to gauge the breadth of the sector in the Catalan economy. We require quantitative and qualitative data from the companies offering professional design services to understand their sources of income, staff costs and level of international reach. The reports published prior to this study had not taken into account the entire design sector within the creative industries. As a result, the Catalan design sector may benefit from the study outputs, i.e. all the information collected may be used to define strategies for companies support, international reach, training programmes and design research.

Resources needed

The study was conducted by 5 people from the professional staff of the Barcelona Design Centre. The duration of it was for a total of 4 months, costing 17.850€ supported by the Culture Department of the ‘Generalitat de Catalunya’ (regional government in Spain).

Evidence of success

The results of the study were used to identify strategies to improve the visibility and international reach of the design sector. As for non-financial support, a strategy for internationalization was implemented when organizing one international mission to Hong Kong for the end of 2015. On the other side, in 2017 and 2018, the Culture Department supported financially with a total of €30.000 for a training programme on creative entrepreneurship targeted to young professionals.

Difficulties encountered

Difficulties in self-categorising companies according to codes of the National Classification for Economic Activities resulted in complications for data collection and interpretation. Definition of design activity in the classification can be confusing for businesses.

Potential for learning or transfer

Why we consider this practice interesting to learn from:
Mapping all the design-related businesses provided important micro and macro-economic figures of the Catalan design sector; quantification of design companies, employment, income, and export data. All this data and engagement of stakeholders in the collection exercise helped Barcelona Design Centre to initiate discussions on further policy and support programmes development.
All the regions interested in collaboratively working on a policy challenge should consider starting the process with the ecosystem mapping to ensure they have an accurate image of the current situation and that all relevant parties are involved.
Key success factors:
a)Involve a broad-based design ecosystem, including associations in the Catalan territory considered counterparts.
b)Quantitative and qualitative analysis carried out.
c)Reaching consensus on priority actions of common interests in the design ecosystem.
Main institution
Barcelona Centre de Disseny
Cataluña, Spain (España)
Start Date
January 2015
End Date
April 2015


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