This move, taken alongside ventures involving product designers, such as the array of healthcare and anti-crime projects in which the council has engaged with senior civil servants, supports the view of Design Council chief design officer Mat Hunter that ’What’s so exciting about the Design Council is that it’s about doing’ (see Profile).
Indeed, Hunter’s appointment earlier this year is evidence of a shift in focus for the council back towards the design community, having ploughed a furrow through potential clients in the private and public sectors in many of its programmes to date. His background in product and interaction design and experience at Ideo stand him in good stead as an industry leader designers can rally around.
We can only surmise that Hunter’s interest in design in the wider social and sustainability context carries clues for the sort of projects the council is trying to attract to the grant scheme. It would certainly tie in with its support of the Designs of the Time project in the North East and now Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The good news is that the grants aren’t meant to fund projects, but to help document them or promote them to a broader audience. This should mean more media coverage for UK design, at local, national or international levels.
Refreshingly, the emphasis will be on current initiatives and, hopefully, new design thinking. This marks a departure from the likes of the otherwise excellent BBC Two series The Genius of Design: Ghosts in the Machine, which tend to be retrospective and concentrate on 3D design. It will also involve design that is local and close to ordinary people’s lives.