For many years, we’ve known about the benefits of reducing automobile dependency in cities. Environments that prioritize pedestrians, cycling and public transit over automobile mobility are cleaner, healthier, quieter, more pleasant and more conducive to outdoor activity.

According to a recent article by Forbes writer, Carlton Reid, cities that reduce automobile dependency see a boost in retail spending.

This is another example of how good design decisions can yield social, environmental and economic benefits. Read the full article here.

Twenty million anonymized transactions were analyzed by the bank and Madrid city council, and it was discovered that the decision to limit road access to the city center by motorists led to a 9.5% increase in retail takings on Madrid’s main shopping street, the Gran Vía.

– Carlton Reid


Design is everywhere. It’s in the spaces we occupy, the objects we use, and the systems that govern our lives. Look around; our clothes, phones, homes, cars, neighbourhoods, cities and even political systems are all products of a deliberate design process.  

It’s complicated and messy, and it’s fair to say it’s the source of many of our problems. But, within design we can also find many of the solutions to those problems. Just as bad design has the power to reduce our well-being, good design has the power to bring positive change. 

The social, environmental, urban, and political challenges we face are a direct outcome of design processes, but we are optimistic that it can also solve many of these challenges.  

We can improve our social well-being by designing walkable cities, achievable by first designing policies that promote these ideas. We can reduce carbon emissions by designing denser cities with more connected and more efficient transit networks. We can design sustainable structures that last longer and use fewer materials that will end up in our landfills. We can design alternatives to single use plastics such as reusable containers for our groceries, and through policy design we can limit the use of single use plastics. 

Our productivity, happiness, health, and general sense of well-being are impacted by the quality of design that surrounds us – and it’s within our control. Just as poor quality design has a deleterious effect on our lives, good design can support higher purposes and important agendas, like health, learning, sustainability and community building.   

Our new blog, Shape the World, was conceived to advance the discussion of how the world is impacted by design. Please join us in this endeavour by subscribing and engaging.   

Together we shape the world.