Designing for a pandemic: towards recovery and resilience




Design is recognized as a discipline that is ideally placed to work across boundaries to tackle wicked problems and help cope with uncertainty. As humanity continues to become more interconnected it is thought that we are becoming more exposed to viruses such as COVID-19. Therefore, the current pandemic offers us opportunities to re-think and re-design many of our practices to ensure we are resilient in future similar crises .  Through the creation and analysis of a database that captures design interventions that have emerged during the pandemic, the paper considers the role design can play in collectively recovering from the current pandemic and building resilience for the future. Whilst the findings represent the beginning of this process, (from late March until June 2020) we find that design has been deployed in a wide range of ways and on all scales, from the personal, communal, organizational, national  and international. However, as we live through and emerge from the pandemic we should reflect, within the realm of design research and beyond, on how we might harness design to enable recovery and build resilience for the future.

Author Biographies

Louise Mullagh, ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University

Senior Research Associate - Population and Policy


Rachel Cooper, ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University

Distinguished Professor of Design Management and Policy at Lancaster University

Lisa Thomas, ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University

Lecturer in Design, ImaginationLancaster

Justin Sacks, ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University

PhD Candidate, ImaginationLancaster

Peter Lloyd Jones, Sheffield Hallam University

Professor of Design, Lab4Living

Naomi Jacobs, ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University

Lecturer in Design Policy and Futures, ImaginationLancaster






Reflections on the design processes adopted in response to the pandemic crisis