The Tale of Two Letters

Design Conformity was established on April 1st, 2017, by Adam Hamilton-Fletcher and Mark Holloway. Adam had previously worked for a retail lighting manufacturer, and Mark was formerly the head of store furniture design at Boots.

Originally known as Callow Partners, a design consultancy, they launched the company at a workshop during the Retail Design Expo in London. The workshop, titled “Enough is Enough – How to avoid wasting money on POS lighting,” garnered mild interest from the few attendees. However, those who attended agreed with the conclusion that an independent design standard was necessary to align suppliers. 

Encouraged by the feedback, they collaborated with the NICEIC and enlisted the expertise of industry veteran Mark Nathan to develop an independent electrical design standard that adhered to British and European standards. They named it Design Conformity or “dc” to align with CE (Conformity European), incorporating elements of CE and UL (the US standards developer) into the logo. 


In 2018, Boots adopted the “dc” design standard, followed by Next and M&S in 2019. In each case, Design Conformity used dc as the foundation for their electrical standards for display equipment, adding bespoke requirements and establishing targets. Design Conformity was also exclusively appointed to certify suppliers for each retailer. 

The dc standard extended beyond electrical guidance and certification. It encompassed compliance with BS standards for non-domestic furniture and provided guidance on sustainable design. The framework for sustainable “good design” was authored by industry veteran Bill Jones, who had previously worked with retailers like The Body Shop and M&S. The design principles focused on reducing materials, designing for reuse, and maximizing recyclability, principles that Bill had pioneered within the industry over a decade earlier. 

While nowadays, various R’s (such as 3 R’s, 4 R’s, 7 R’s, and more) are promoted in the manufacturing industry, all of them ultimately have their roots in circular design. 

Going Green

As of spring 2023, we are now collaborating with some of Europe’s largest furniture manufacturers for retailers in countries such as France, Germany, Poland, and Sweden, and have also begun expanding into North America. 

Furthermore, we recently achieved our 1000th Circular Design Certificate and are commencing the utilization of our insights and data to benchmark and report on the industry. 

The best tool to use will depend on the specific needs of the user. If you need to conduct a detailed analysis of the environmental impacts of a product or service, then an LCA is the best option. If you need a more accessible and standardized way to communicate the environmental performance of a product or service, then an EPD is a good choice.