Future Observatory is a national programme for design research supporting the UK’s response to the climate crisis. 

Launched November 2021, the three-year programme is coordinated by the Design Museum in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).   

As a cultural institution, the Design Museum is ideally placed to bring cutting-edge design research to broad audiences, making it accessible and engaging and enabling it to have a greater impact. Indeed, Future Observatory redefines what a museum can be: a place not solely focused on the past or the present but one that can help shape the future.  

Acting as both a coordinating hub for a nationwide programme, as well as a research department within the museum, Future Observatory curates exhibitions, programmes events and funds and publishes new research, all with the aim of championing new design thinking on environmental issues. Future Observatory also runs Design Researchers in Residence, the Design Museum's flagship programme for emerging design thinkers and practitioners. 

Design the Green Transition

Following a hugely successful pilot year of Future Observatory, AHRC and the Design Museum launched a multi-million-pound fund bringing UK design researchers, universities and businesses together to catalyse the transition to net zero and a green economy.  

The Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition programme is funded by AHRC and will be delivered in partnership with the Design Museum. It will benefit over 100 higher education institutions and 75 industry and local authority partners across the nation. It is the largest publicly funded design research and innovation (R&I) programme in the UK.   

There are four main strands of Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition:  

– Three-year Future Observatory programme at the Design Museum  
– 4x Green Transition Ecosystems  
– 75x Design Exchange Partnerships  
– 50x Design Accelerators  




Director: Justin McGuirk 

Curatorial Director: Cher Potter 

Programme Manager: Liz Thornhill 

Curator: George Kafka 

Programme Assistant: Lila Boschet 

Coordinator: Leilah Hirson-Comley

Visual identity and site design by Spin.

Advisory Board

Camilla Buchanan, Co-head of Policy Lab

Edward Harcourt, Fellow of Keble College, Oxford and former Director of Research, Strategy and Innovation at AHRC

Hanif Kara, Design Director, AKT II and Professor in Practice of Architectural Technology at Harvard GSD

Suhair Khan, Creative strategist

Adrian Lahoud, Dean of the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art