Tuesday, 02 September 2014
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Royal Mint to launch Olympic coin competitions

By Emily Pacey

The Royal Mint is expected to launch a series of tenders in the build-up to 2012 to find designs for the backs of coins celebrating the Olympic Games.

The news may quell some negative reactions that have risen from the design community following the launch yesterday of the Royal Mint's public competition to find designs for the backs of 50p pieces.

The Design Business Association recommends that consultancies do not enter the competition, which will find a child, a teenager and up to 27 other people to design the reverse sides of the coins. Winners will receive £1000 each in prize money, but unsuccessful entrants will not receive any remuneration.

A DBA spokesperson says, 'Commercial design businesses should not give away creative ideas for free. In the current economic climate it is more important than ever that design businesses maintain a healthy profit margin. To do this, they have to be paid a reasonable fee for the work they do.'

Johnson Banks founder Michael Johnson has branded the competition a 'nightmare', and says that the consultancy will not be entering any designs for the 50p piece.

'A competition like this is a lottery - the Royal Mint would get a far better result if it short-listed six good design groups and paid them £5000 each,' says Johnson.

The Royal Mint's director of commemorative coins Dave Knight defends the organisation's position, revealing that 'other coin values' besides the 50p will receive Olympic treatments by professional designers.

He adds, 'Also, there has never been an Olympic coin programme in the UK before. Neither a child nor a teenager has designed a coin of the realm before. This is about engaging the nation and getting young people inspired.'

The Design Council is supporting the 50p competition, with chief executive David Kester saying, 'Britain has a long history of public design competitions and, while we don't support free professional pitching, there are times when it's right to give the whole nation the opportunity to get creative.'

'Just as the Olympics and Paralympics celebrate the best that non-professionals can achieve, this competition will give everyone the opportunity to feel they can take part, no matter what their age or ability,' he adds.

The Royal Mint's last public competition, launched in 2005, saw the appointment of Three Fish in a Tree designer Matthew Dent, who beat more than 500 other entrants to design the backs of all seven coin denominations.

The 27 coins, designed by the British public, will go into circulation at the rate of one every month from March 2010.

Unfair Competition?

Recent public competitions have seen the appointment of professionals rather than members of the public
:
July 2008 - Mayor of London Boris Johnson's A New Bus for London competition, which resulted in victory for Capoco Design and Foster & Partners

September 2003 - London 2012 launches a competition to design the capital's bid logo to win the Olympic games, appointing Kino Design in November 2003

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