Principal, Cause and Affect; board director, Vancouver Design Foundation
Though she hails from Vancouver Island, Jane Cox spent years working for corporate design firms in London, England—and now she blends her West Coast roots and English sophistication to make change and inspire others through connection and culture.
How would you describe Vancouver’s current design scene?
People are operating at a global level now. People are travelling more; people are online more. So you’re not just facing inside your community, you’re connecting everywhere—all around the world. There are different perspectives coming into the city all the time, and there are opportunities for mash-ups, which I think are the most exciting things in design.
When I came back to Vancouver [from London in 2003], there wasn’t much of a connection between the disciplines. So I saw this opportunity to not only connect the design industry to itself—like to other designers to create interesting things—but also to look at the city. I looked at Vancouver itself as a project. Like, what can I do? How can I help design this city better?
How does your work affect the way Vancouverites experience the city?
I would say that the two things that drive me are culture and connection. When I think about a city, I look for opportunities for organizations that I think are doing things to make the city better. There’s a process involved to educate the public on changing their behaviours, or we have to do things differently to make something better. What that causes is people in a city seeing that new thing and then being excited about it because of the way I’ve thought about designing that experience.
People don’t like new sometimes; they don’t like change. How do we make things that are different and new but are better for the world? How do we make them really inspiring and attract people? Even though it’s changing the way someone might behave or be used to doing something, they’re actually excited to do it because they feel part of making the city better.
What’s your history with Vancouver Design Week?
Design weeks happen all around the world, where the city dedicates a week to celebrating design in their city. And we thought: Vancouver is ready for that. We have the content here; we have the talent. The design community itself doesn’t have opportunities to connect to each other.