UK culture minister Matt Hancock has praised the UK's architects and designers, describing the sector as "vitally important to our future as an outward looking, creative nation".
The comments – the first in which the new minister has specifically highlighted the UK's design sector – came after a dinner hosted by Dezeen and held at Second Home in London on Wednesday evening.
The dinner brought the minister together with a group of leading figures from the UK design scene, invited by Dezeen.
It was organised as a way of building bridges between the government's Department for Culture, Media & Sport and the design sector, which is the fastest-growing part of the UK's creative industries. It generates over £70 billion in goods and services for the UK economy and employs 1.5 million people.
"The UK's world-leading architecture and design is vitally important to our future as an outward looking, creative nation," said Hancock, who is minister of state for digital and culture at the DCMS.
"It is a dynamic sector that significantly enhances our economy and our global reputation."
He added: "It was great to meet with Dezeen and other industry leaders to discuss the important issues in their sector – and I look forward to working with them in the future."
Attendees at the dinner – organised by Dezeen and Second Home's Rohan Silva, and hosted by Dezeen founder and editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs – included architects Amanda Levete and Sadie Morgan, industrial designer Paul Priestman, designers Ilse Crawford and Nicolas Roope, and fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic.
Other guests included Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic, Royal College of Art rector Paul Thompson and Design Business Association chief executive Deborah Dawton. Heather Corcoran of Kickstarter, Judy Dobias of Camron PR and Erica Bolton of Bolton & Quinn also attended.
The dinner followed the publication of Dezeen's Brexit Design Manifesto, which identified ways the design sector can help the UK maintain its vibrancy after Brexit, and listed areas of concern for the sector.
Issues discussed at the dinner included: the importance of being able to hire talented overseas workers; the need for a world-class education system to educate the design leaders of the future; the need for ongoing access to international IP regimes; and the vital role design can play to make UK manufacturers more innovative and competitive.
Other topics covered included the need to address perceptions that design is an elitist, metropolitan profession, and how to find ways to show that design can improve businesses and lives around the country.
Ideas discussed included ways that design companies and institutions could reach out more to the regions and to schools, and the need for the sector to improve the way it interacts with government and speak with a unified voice.
Hancock said it was important to find ways to help the sector continue to flourish after Brexit, adding that he will continue to work with the industry as the government conducts Brexit negotiations.
But he said the sector needed to do more to ensure the entire country understood design and enjoyed the benefits that design can bring.
Hancock, who was elected Conservative MP for West Suffolk in 2010, was appointed minister of state responsible for digital and culture policy in July this year.
Dezeen readers can still add their names to the Brexit Design Manifesto. Signatories will get our regular Brexit email updates.