What better day to announce a strategic review of design representation than the day we go to the polls to vote in a new government. Whatever the outcome of that contest, we can be assured of some change at a time when we sorely need it, to boost national confidence and move forward. We can but hope that the mouthings about design the main parties uttered in the run-up to the election aren’t forgotten when the winner takes up office.
However hard it has been to distinguish between political parties as the campaigns have dragged on, the issue of leadership has remained key. And the same has long been true in design. With so many bodies claiming a place in the industry, it’s unclear to designers, clients and politicians who they should turn to for advice.
Who, for example, might the Prime Minister call on tomorrow in the unlikely event he should put design at the top of his agenda? It would be nice to think it wasn’t just the Design Council, a catalyst agency in the government’s pay, but that a representative body was deemed potent enough to speak up for design at that level.
For years we’ve bemoaned the impotence of the Chartered Society of Designers and Design Business Association, one crippled by debt, the other hampered by limited resources. In the past I’ve called for the abolition of both to make way for a new, more formidable body. I’ve shared these sentiments with others, but I now set them aside and approach the review with an open mind.
The review gives the design industry a chance to make positive changes to the way it is organised and perceived. It could at last grow teeth. But to make that happen, we must all take part in the process. We urge you to respond openly and wholeheartedly when your views are canvassed by Design Week and others over the next few weeks. The review team is keen to act quickly to build on what Jonathan Sands has identified as “a renaissance” for design, but that action needs to be fuelled by your input and support.