Inclusive Design Challenge deserves wider recognition

We all go on about the positive attributes of design in tackling social ills as well as enhancing clients’ commercial performance. But how many of us go out of our way to demonstrate the former, under constant pressure to prove the latter?

Over the years, consultancies entering the Inclusive Design Challenge have been among those helping to set the agenda in social design (see News in Depth, page 7).

Formerly known as the Product Design Challenge, the challenge set by the Design Business Association and the Royal College of Art Helen Hamlyn Centre is not to be confused with initiatives such as the Sorrell Foundation’s work in schools or the design of social services championed by the Design Council’s former Red Unit. It results in practical outcomes from practitioners that can be used by anyone, regardless of age or ability.

One of the great things about this year’s winner – Wolff Olins’ Go Steady kitemark to help people with mobility problems – is that it has been created by one of the UK’s biggest branding groups. It’s good to see that the demands of corporate clients don’t prevent creative teams from putting people first.

The Inclusive Design Challenge has reached new levels of late, broadening out from product to include branding and now accepting sponsorship from the NHS National Patients Safety Agency. It is respected in the design world, but sadly it’s influence generally ends there.

The HHC is better than most in academia at broadcasting its results, thanks to its journalist director Jeremy Myerson. But it would be great to see the Inclusive Design Challenge getting a wider airing.

The BBC is reportedly working up a new TV series on design. What better way to start than by taking inclusivity as its theme? If soaps such as Coronation Street and EastEnders can address social realities like Alzheimer’s disease and Down’s syndrome, then why shouldn’t viewers be keen to see how design can help?






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