Leanne Young – Socially conscious design

August 11, 2017

Graduate designer Leanne Young won the competition to design Scotland’s first ever Baby Box, and wants to use design to improve people’s lives.

Leanne always loved drawing and wanted to find a career that would let her pursue this passion. This led to an interest in design, fuelled by the realisation that designers can have a huge impact on how things work – and the people they work for.

“I wanted to start creating work that people would be more inclined to use and interact with, and most importantly work that would have a positive effect on their lives,” she says.

Leanne left school earlier than many of her friends, with studies at Edinburgh College and Leith School of Art leading to a graphic design degree at Edinburgh Napier University. There she had the “incredible cultural experience” of a year studying in Paris, “immersed in a city steeped in art, history and culture”.

For the Baby Boxes competition, which was run by V&A Dundee, Leanne was “inspired by Scotland’s mythology and children’s fairy tales”.

“I wanted to use a form of storytelling within the box design and aimed to create a scene that children would enjoy engaging with,” she says, with her black and white design inviting families to draw on it together, colouring in sections, and adding details of key moments in a baby’s life.

“I wanted families to be able to use the box not only practically, but creatively together too,” Leanne adds.

The experience of winning the competition has been “surreal” for Leanne, “especially considering the amount of publicity it has received”. An invitation to speak at the European Parliament in Brussels, at an event looking at Scotland’s Baby Boxes and the Finnish scheme which inspired them, was a particular highlight.

Leanne (left) at the European Parliament event

Winning the competition also brought mentoring from leading designers Holly Fulton and Scott Jarvie, which “has been incredibly valuable, especially so soon after my graduation”.

Leanne is focused on designing for social impact now she has left university. “I see myself in the future creating more socially active projects that continue to contribute to society and make a genuinely beneficial, lasting impact,” she says.

“I believe innovative design has the potential to improve the quality of life for almost everyone,” Leanne adds, admitting that it’s an “incredible feeling” that over 50,000 babies in Scotland are expected to receive a Baby Box which is covered in her design, “especially when I know some of my closest friends will receive the box”.

Looking to the future, Leanne is excited too about V&A Dundee opening, seeing it as “a massive opportunity for Scotland”. “Scotland is such a forward thinking and progressive country, and having V&A Dundee here will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase Scotland’s design and emerging talent,” she says.

We are proud to welcome Leanne as a V&A Dundee Design Champion, as she starts out on her career, recognising both her exceptional Baby Box design and her passion for using design to make a real difference to people’s lives.

To find out more, please visit Leanne’s website.

The V&A Dundee Design Champions are inspirational designers creating high-quality work and helping to enhance people’s lives, or champions of the power of design to improve the world.

We will announce 50 Design Champions in the run-up to the museum opening on Saturday 15 September 2018.


V&A Dundee’s Design Champions project is working with Dezeen as its media partner.

Dezeen is the world’s most popular and influential architecture and design magazine, with an audience of 2.5 million unique visitors each month. 

0 comments so far, view or add yours

Add a comment

Please read our privacy policy to understand what we do with your data.


Join today and enjoy unlimited free entry to all V&A exhibitions, Members-only previews and more

Find out more


Find inspiration in our incredible range of exclusive gifts, jewellery, books, fashion, prints & posters and much more...

Find out more