As far as the media is concerned the election manifestos have so far predictably focused on tax and education, pushing aside – or at least into the small print – two issues of prime importance to design.
First, there’s the sway design might have with the election victor – not just the small fragmented industry of which we are a part, but the creative process which put millionaire design entrepreneurs Terence
Conran and James Dyson on The Sunday Times Rich List last weekend and is helping many an international business achieve its goals in terms of product, service and finance.
We are well aware of politicians’ obsession with “wealth creation”, but too modest as an industry, too unfocused or too lacking in plausible examples to push design’s track record in this. Both the Tories and Labour have said they believe in design, but we in the industry will have to make sure they remember their commitment when the new Parliament sits.
Second, there’s the vital need for a strategic body for London. Much has been made of this over recent years, particularly by Labour and its staunch ally, architect Lord Rogers. The Tories and the Lib Dems have both included some provision for London in their pre-election strategies. But I’d like to see more design-led initiatives, such as a rigorous policy on signing and a more intelligent approach to the use of the River Thames as a major artery for business, Londoners and tourists, taken to heart and responsibility given to an independent authority to see them through.
As a nation we need to cash in on the strategic role design can play and court innovation. Like other European cities, we should use the capital to set an example.
Elections inevitably throw up what often prove to be empty promises as politicians vie for our votes. But they also generate many great ideas. Please tell us what initiatives you’d like implemented and we’ll compile a list for the incoming government to try to hold all parties to their pledges after the election result is known.