Exploring the strategic value of slow design: understanding potential benefits to the commercial setting

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This study explores the approach of slow design, and its underlying theory, by engaging in several forms of design practice. The aim is to understand the practice of slow design and its potential to create new value in the commercial design setting. Slow design represents a holistic philosophy towards design for meeting human wellbeing needs, in balance with the resources and complex systems of the natural environment. Business is a dominant force in the world, and is considered a powerful agent for change. However, there is limited existing research exploring how commercial organisations could benefit by adopting principles of slow design.
The practice-led exploration is situated within three major spaces of influence; the theoretical context of slow design; the commercial context of collaborating organisations, and; the wider context within which the organisation sits. The theoretical context is channelled into the commercial setting through collaborations with SME-scale organisations, and its influence is explored at operational, functional, and strategic levels. Creative production is used to contextualise abstract theoretical elements, synthesize theory and context, and to give tangible form to speculative propositions for strategic transitions.
The findings from this study indicate that the influence of slow design can create new opportunities for value, through a situated practice that is responsive to the conditions and goals of an organisation. The forms of value indicated suggest that slow design provides an intellectual framework for critical evaluation, and for envisioning new strategic directions. However, value is conditional on understanding and overcoming tensions, between the underlying theory of ‘slow’ and the fast-paced world of the commercial environment.
This study contributes an understanding of how the adoption of slow design can benefit commercial organisations. A model is proposed, demonstrating a situated practice, that surfaces the intertwining factors of the collaborations. Where the emerging opportunity for value is contingent on the commercial environment, circumstances, imperatives, and manner through which slow design is introduced, and to whom. The study contributes to the practice of slow design in this setting, by identifying some key elements of negotiating permission and value, and in demonstrating the important roles of artefacts in supporting the collaborations.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Northumbria University
  • Design Department
  • Spencer, Nick, Supervisor
  • Smith, Neil, Supervisor
  • Tennant, Andy, Supervisor
  • Wallace, Jayne, Supervisor
Award date31 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the strategic value of slow design: understanding potential benefits to the commercial setting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this