Before 2014, design as a separate field belonged to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. Design policy was part of Estonian business policies for 2007-2013. In 2012-2013, a national action plan for the area of design was implemented. This constituted the first phase of a national support policy that aimed at developing design use. The objectives of the action plan were to increase the use of design among businesses and to foster the development of design as an important sector of the creative industries. In cooperation of various ministries and organisations, activities were carried out to increase design awareness, knowledge and skills; design bureaus were developed and increasing their export was supported; and design education quality was promoted.
Since 2014, design is under the administration of the Ministry of Culture, and it also is a part of the General Principles of Cultural Policy:
- the role of design is to contribute to the development of innovative, functional, environmentally sustainable, user-friendly and attractive products and services and the creation of safe and welcoming environments;
- the state supports the activities of designers and design agencies, because quality design service helps to create added value in other sectors of the economy as well and therefore increases the international competitiveness of Estonian enterprises;
- state support measures are directed at increasing the demand for quality design and product development based on it. This increases the value of design in the conditions of public procurements, raises awareness of design and facilitates cooperation between designers, enterprises, and research institutions through supporting the funding of projects, innovation shares, and entrepreneurship centres. It is important to raise the general public awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and environmental value of design and to continue marketing Estonian design in the international arena;
- in order to raise the quality of designer training, studies need to be international, provide internship opportunities at various enterprises and include joint curricula and projects between universities providing education in design and technology. When devising curricula, it must be ensured that representatives of enterprises are involved.
In 2016-2018, the Ministry of Culture participated in creating a vision document for the field. The process was led by the development centre and strategic partner Estonian Design Centre.
The Ministry of Culture carries out “Design Ladder” studies exploring design implementation among enterprises in the private sector, as well as among the state enterprises and foundations in the public domain. These surveys provide a viable overview of the current situation and opportunities for progression.
The Ministry of Culture cooperates with the Ministry of Social Affairs and other institutions and organisations to advance the inclusiveness of the living environment regarding the aspects of accessibility for all.
Design Night is a design festival held each autumn in Tallinn with the aim of interpreting different aspects of design and pushing the borders of the discipline. The festival consists of seminars, workshops, exhibitions, competitions, and performances. One of the events at the Design Night is the Estonian Design Awards ceremony. The purpose of the Design Awards is to recognise, praise and promote design work, which offers aesthetic enjoyment as well as solutions on how to improve our living environment in a nature-friendly and sustainable way.
In addition, within the competition for the Entrepreneurship Award, every other year Enterprise Estonia hands out the title of the Design Implementer of the Year, with the objective of drawing more attention to those businesses whose success has significantly increased as a result of the strategic implementation of design in the development of their goods or services or in the management of their business. The Entrepreneurship Award competition is the highest recognition in the country for outstanding and progressively minded businesses.