What role does locale play in shaping design identity? How do designers see their own sense of place made manifest in their work? How can we encourage a sense of localism in young designers? Product design is particularly susceptible to globalisation; its relationship with technology links it to greater homogenisation. The nature of trends and notions of “good design” engenders a sense of place and localised design identities, but by definition design is a solution, and solutions cannot be divorced from the problems they address, from their context. This is where sense of place comes in and why it is important; it roots design in its most fundamental reason for existing. Without a sense of place, design can look great, work well, be interesting and engaging, but it can't truly be effective. This paper considers student projects over a 15-year period that trace the development of a methodology where place of design, manufacture and use become key drivers for design outputs. By focusing on immediate surroundings, a series of design projects question the nature of local materials, people and society, through local industry, football teams (from Potters, Glovers and Hatters to Chairboys) and social history. The outcomes help to inform students of their surroundings and encourages them to explore and engage with the localities. A defined sense of localism helps to place them, to settle them into new homes and workspaces, and to understand the nature, history and context of their new areas.