Hats off to Waitrose’s design team – and its management


It is a real credit to the internal design team at Waitrose that the quality of their work is so high [that they’ve just won the Grand Prix at the Design Business Association’s Design Effectiveness Awards for their work on the Essential Waitrose range, pictured] (Comment, DW 24 February).

Designers working in internal company teams often suffer from being seen as limited or hamstrung by the restrictions of the brand/company they represent.

My own experience, when I ran the internal design team at the Estée Lauder Group many years ago, was that independent design consultancies tended to look down on internal company teams as not being quite in the same league.

I believe, and time has only hardened my views, that the constraints of working within an internal team create stronger and more commercially aware design thinking. Any designer within an internal team has to rapidly learn the arts of communication, persuasion, tact and, perhaps most importantly, timing when trying to coax management driven by the ’bottom line’ rather than the quality of their presentation to their customer. All these skills, I believe, are now essential in the running of my own design consultancy.

So, as you say, congratulations should go not only to the internal design team at Waitrose, but also the management who allow and seem to encourage good-quality work to prevail.

If only more companies understood the real value of design.

Mark Fanthorpe, by e-mail

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