The Double Diamond, 15 years on…

Cat Drew
Design Council
Published in
6 min readSep 2, 2019

Any service designer will have heard of the ‘Double Diamond’. And probably many other designers will have too. It was created by a group of people at Design Council in the early noughties (led by Richard Eisermann, including Clive Grinyer, Jennie Winhall, Gill Wildman, Anna White, Chris Vanstone, Jonathan Ball, Andrea Siodmok and others!) as they were trying to understand how the design process works. Then, as now, many people think ‘design’ refers to objects, chairs, clothes. But these designers were using design as a problem-solving tool and wanted to make visible this process, and in particular the importance of spending time (and money!) on understanding the problem that the eventual design was trying to solve.

Chris Vanstone’s image (from twitter) of one of the first sketches of the double diamond

Design Council is in its 75th year, having been set up by Churchill’s wartime committee to promote good (industrial) design as part of rebuilding the post-war economy. The need to harness design to strengthen economic growth is just as important for us now, on the verge Brexit, as it was then. We’ve spent a lot of this year looking back at our history as well as forward to our future.

I came across the Double Diamond eight years ago as a non-designer, from outside Design Council. Since then, I’ve sketched it out thousands of times with other people new to design, with team mates working up project proposals and workshop participants taking them through the agenda of the session. For me, it remains the simplest way of communicating the design process to a non-design audience. People (including myself) have adapted it, changed it, drawn circular arrows around it, added diamonds before and after it. The Double Diamond brings about a visual simplicity and communication goal (of revealing an invisible process to non-designers), which is especially important as the design process becomes more complicated and nuanced (in line with the more complex problems design is being asked to solve).

“Design frameworks provide a structure to justify the process and build trust and confidence among stakeholders”. Nick Durrant quoted by Dan Nessler

As with any good design project, there is an audience segmentation to do here. Some people (e.g. people new to design or designers who are used to working to a tightly defined brief) will find it clear and helpful but others (e.g. designers involved in…

Cat Drew
Design Council

Chief Design Officer at the Design Council, previously FutureGov and Uscreates. Member of The Point People.