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

Thank you for a brilliant experience. This has made us think differently about how we teach Art & Design and DT – we have so many new ideas for our schemes of work.

Head of Faculty, Design & Technology

It brings schools together with museum educators, practising artists and designers and the Museum's collections to work on projects. It also provides teachers with training and CPD opportunities to develop new and innovative ways of teaching design. DesignLab aims to inspire a new generation of creative practitioners as well as broaden young people's understanding of the designed world around them, how it is made and its impact on society and the environment.

DesignLab allows students to:

  • Engage with historical and contemporary design
  • Work directly with professional artists and designers in an in-depth way
  • Connect with learning across the curriculum, including STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Design and Maths)
  • Develop creativity, skills and knowledge relevant to working in the creative industries
  • Get advice about different pathways into creative careers

DesignLab is open to any state-funded secondary school. To register your interest or find out more about what's coming up this term contact:

Learning Coordinator
Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 2622

The following film of a recent DesignLab project linked to our Alexander McQueen exhibition demonstrates how DesignLab works.

DesignLab Nation

DesignLab Nation

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
  • Support the teaching of Design & Technology and the future of the creative industries
  • Support regional museums and local design networks
  • Expand the reach of the V&A’s collections

Our current three-year programme (September 2017 – August 2020) has been rolled out in five regions across the UK – Blackburn, Coventry, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland.

Having access to the arts in school is good for attainment, good for job prospects, and good for the creative talent pipeline.

Tristram Hunt, V&A Director

In each participating region, we partner with a museum and professional designers. Together, we deliver in-depth design projects to local secondary school groups (aged 11–16, approx. 25 students in each) and continuing professional development (CPD) sessions for regional networks of teachers. These activities are supported by the loan of inspiring and relevant objects from the V&A’s collections for public display in the regional museums. All participating students will visit both their local museum and the V&A during their project, as well as additional engagement with other local design industries, colleges and universities. This programme supports the teaching of the new Design and Technology (D&T) GCSE, which launched in September 2017.

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

Participating Teacher

In 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 and/or have low levels of cultural engagement. This programme is fully funded for all schools who take 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

Watch this film from our pilot year (2017/2018) of DesignLab Nation, in partnership with Coventry Transport Museum.

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

Read our Year 2 Report here:

DesignLab Nation is generously supported by Art Fund and The Foyle Foundation.

With additional support from Sarah Nichols, The Staples Trust, The Zochonis Charitable Trust, Outset Contemporary Art Fund, The 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust, the Brian Mercer Charitable Trust, The Michael Marsh Charitable Trust, The Daniel Howard Foundation, The W M and B W Lloyd Charity, The Barbour Foundation, the William Brake Charitable Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, The Fort Foundation, the Edward and Dorothy Cadbury Trust, The James Neill Trust Fund and The Percy Hedley 1990 Charitable Trust.

Our partners: