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Design sector moderately positive after corona year

12 February 2021

The design sector still showed strong growth in turnover for freelancers and start-ups in 2019. But what impact have the corona measures had, and what are the turnover expectations for 2020 and the coming year? Find out in the BNO Sector Monitor.

Every year, the BNO publishes the BNO Sector Monitor with the economic performance of the design sector. The BNO Sector Monitor 2021 looks at the figures of 2019, the year prior to the corona pandemic. Where did the design sector stand? And how healthy was the sector financially before the world was taken over by a virus? At the same time, the design sector was surveyed about the impact of corona on design practice in 2020 and about expectations for the future.


The response, which was collected in the second half of 2020, shows that survey participants are gloomy about the expected business performance in 2020. Half of those surveyed expect a decrease in turnover compared to 2019. Despite the fact that the consequences of the pandemic cannot yet be foreseen, some respondents are still hopeful about the current year 2021: around two-fifths of all designers and agencies expect an improvement compared to last year. The design agencies are more positive in this respect than the independent designers.

In the corona-year of 2020, a considerable amount of support measures were put in place. The self-employed designers without staff (entrepreneurs), with about 30 per cent, mainly made use of the Temporary Bridge to Self-Employment (TOZO). Of the design bureaus, 50 per cent applied for support within the first NOW emergency measure, and 29 per cent used the second NOW emergency measure. Tax deferrals were a welcome concession for 23 per cent of the agencies. Respectively 50 per cent of the self-employed and 31 per cent of the design agencies did not use the available support measures at all.

More up-to-date figures on support measures being used, personnel policy, turnover expectations and influence of the corona crisis on rates or business strategy in 2020 can be found in the full research report. The BNO Sector Monitor 2021 also contains figures on turnover, company size, income sources, markets and hourly rates in the year 2019. The report can be found at bno/branchemonitor (Dutch only).