DesignLab Nation

DesignLab Nation is a programme of in-depth projects that explore new ways of engaging secondary school students across the country with design.

The V&A's national secondary schools programme, DesignLab Nation, aims to:

  • Inspire the next generation of professional designers, makers and innovators
  • Equip young people with 21st century skills necessary for workplaces of the future
  • Develop partnerships with regional museums, designers and schools to expand the reach of the V&A's collection and expertise outside of London
  • Focus on local making, design heritage and industry, highlighting both historical and contemporary design and its importance to regional collections, place-making and learning
  • Support in-depth student projects through the delivery of design challenges which mirror the design journey
  • Support teachers and build regional and national design networks

Our current partners for the 2023/24 academic year are:

Logos for Bradford Museums and Galleries, The Box, The Shipley Art Gallery, and World of Wedgwood
Plymouth (The Box), Bradford (Cartwright Hall & Bradford Industrial Museum), Newcastle/Gateshead (Tyne and Wear Museums) and Stoke-on-Trent (V&A Wedgwood)

With DesignLab Nation the V&A is redoubling efforts for the next generation, building creative confidence and cultural capital in tomorrow's changemakers, while celebrating and supporting design-technology teaching in schools.

Tristram Hunt, V&A Director

In each participating region, we partner with a museum and a professional designer. Together we deliver in-depth design projects to local secondary school groups (aged 11 – 16, approximately 25 students in each), and continuing professional development (CPD) sessions for regional networks of teachers.

From 2023/24 (seventh year of Design Lab Nation) onwards, we are including two-day Teacher Development Strands (TDS) to support all regional partnerships. These aim to embed teachers in the planning and testing process of design projects and resources, prior to students starting. They include paid opportunities for teachers to visit V&A South Kensington and regional museums, along with sessions on co-design activities, and content with museum professionals and designers.

All participating students will visit both their local museum and the V&A during the project, as well as additional engagement with other local design industries, colleges and universities. In selected areas, student projects have previously been supported by the loan of inspiring and relevant V&A objects for public display in the partner museums.

It has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had in my decade or so of teaching.

Participating Teacher

The programme supports the teaching of the Design and Technology (D&T) GCSE, which launched in September 2017. Each year of the programme, partner museums are asked to recruit three local schools that they have not recently engaged with, that are based in areas with above-average levels of income deprivation or/and have low levels of cultural engagement. DesignLab Nation is funded for all schools taking part, including travel to London and workshop materials.

The best part of DesignLab Nation was learning new things and seeing things from a different perspective

Participating Student

Find out more about the programme on the V&A Learning Blog or contact:

Read our recent years' report here:

DesignLab Nation decorative logo

DesignLab Nation is generously supported by Sarah Nichols and the Annie Tranmer Charitable Trust.

DesignLab Nation Bradford is part of the V&A's Jameel Programme.

Art Jameel logo

Our previous partners include:

Logos for Blackpool Museum and Art Gallery, Coventry Transport Museum, Sheffield Museums, City of Stoke on Trent, National Glass Centre, Grundy, Showtown and Colchester and Ipswich Museums
Blackburn Museum; Culture Coventry; Museums Sheffield; The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent; The National Glass Centre, Sunderland; Grundy Art Gallery and Showtown, Blackpool; Ipswich Museum and Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich