Now is the most exhilarating time to be an innovator.

WHY, What's changed?

The scale of what we’re designing has shifted from products, to companies, to economic systems.

Who we’re designing for has expanded from a solitary user to an intimately connected web of people, spanning the globe.

New tools such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and biomimicry mean our design ambitions are limited only by our imagination.

Meanwhile, creativity has never been more important. The global economy is stuttering and disruptive technologies challenge established business models.

The next big thing in design is circular.

A radical, restorative, regenerative approach to business

A new mind-set for business is emerging. It’s worth around a trillion dollars, will drive innovation in tomorrow’s companies, and reshape every part of our lives.

But making the shift isn’t easy. That’s why we created this guide: to help innovators create more elegant, effective, creative solutions for the circular economy. Solutions that are invaluable for people, give businesses a competitive advantage, and are regenerative for our world.

What if you could redesign everything?

what would you do differently?

You might be questioning the health of our organisations, social systems, and business models. With good reason: companies are currently deeply rooted in a linear approach to growth - make, use, dispose.

The design thinking approach that underpins this guide allows you to explore new ways to create sustainable, resilient, long-lasting value in the circular economy – giving you the creative confidence to redesign the world around you.

The shift is already in motion.


Have designed a new form of packaging made of mycelium, or mushroom 'roots'. Cheap, plentiful, and easy to grow, the biodegradable products break down, just as they do in nature, and become compost once you’re finished with them.


Philips + RAUArchitects

Created a “pay-per-lux scheme” where instead of buying bulbs and light fittings, the architects only pay for light itself. Philips take responsibility for the maintenance of the physical fixtures.



Patagonia outdoor wear have grown their business out of a repair and refurbish service – propelled by captivating and authentic storytelling.


So, roll up your sleeves and get started.

Run a workshop

with these workshop packages and resources. It’s free and easy to get started.


explore methods

that help you understand, define, make, and release circular innovations.


read a story

about pioneers in circular design and how they applied the concept to their own innovations.


The Circular Design Guide is a collaboration between the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and IDEO. To give your feedback, email us directly or join our linkedin group.

Copyright © Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2017, 2018

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