September kicked off in a big way for design, with so much in the offing at the London Design Festival and Neville Brody’s Anti Design Festival next week and any number of overseas design events going on, from India’s esteemed Design Yatra conference held in Mumbai last week and Finland’s Helsinki Design Week.
But while these events provide a great opportunity for socialising and seeing stuff, they can also prompt reflection, with so many questions being raised in and about design.
At the official end, we await the imminent verdict of the Government on the Design Council’s future, following the review by Martin Temple which is due to be delivered to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills about now ahead of the Government’s spending review on 20 October.
The general view is that the Design Council will survive – it transpires it can’t be scrapped overnight anyway because it has a Royal Charter but it can be cut off financially – but its funding from the public purse could well be reduced and its remit refocused. We as an industry need its work in championing design to Government, business and education to continue through whatever channels remain so it’s worth keeping abreast of developments.
What else the Temple review throws up remains to be seen, but the nature of design representation – or lack of coherence among the disparate design bodies – may well become an issue again. Reports are that, with a couple of notably exceptions, industry heads haven’t left a particularly good impression on Temple and the encounters have certainly polarised key players.
It’s hard though to draw the creative community together, given the diversity of interests within it. Those of you who were around in the mid-1990s may remember the Halifax Initiative, which, in reponse to Government prompting, attempted to find a single voice for design and failed at the first hurdle because of the self-interest of many of the bodies concerned. Could things be different now? Maybe.
There is also the promise of change at D&AD as Simon ‘Sanky’ Sankarayya takes the helm next week as president. Sanky brings interaction design firmly into the D&AD mix, providing, in his words, the ‘glue’ between advertising and design. We have yet to find out what that will mean in reality, but we can expect an increasingly inclusive approach from a now global body that has, in the past, been considered elitist. He deserves the design community’s support in this.
I have written before about the sound sentiments behind the Anti Design Festival, which isn’t anti-design at all and promises a feast of visual and sensory stimulation. The questions it raises might not be new, but it is certainly time to revisit them in the hope of finding new answers – or just building confidence among designers in their talents. Check it out and report back.