RIBA could bridge gaps between design disciplines

Royal Institute of British Architects president Jack Pringle is an astute businessman. Soon after he set up Pringle Brandon with Chris Brandon in 1986, recession hit, so they shifted from just designing buildings to creating interiors for properties that estate agents couldn’t let. It paid off and the practice now boasts award-winning interiors, buildings and research into working environments.

But business sense isn’t Pringle’s only attribute. He has a passion for his profession that saw him voted on to RIBA council at 29 and fuelled his rise to president in September. He gets things done. It is interesting to find him entering the battle for recognition in which design has long been engaged. By floating the idea of new RIBA membership categories to include designers, he could be offering an alternative to those disenchanted by the Chartered Society of Designers, the Design Business Association and D&AD.

So what is in it for designers? For graphic designers probably little, given the lure of D&AD to individual creatives and the DBA to businesses. But for interior and product designers there could be great appeal.

There is considerable affinity between architecture and 3D design. In many countries, architectural training is still the starting point of a design career and architects readily design products, interiors and furniture. UK 3D folk, though, generally feel less well-represented than their 2D peers by existing bodies, given that communications and branding make up the biggest part of the industry.

There have been bids in the past to redress the balance – through D&AD presidential choices and positive moves by all bodies to attract 3D designers and groups as members. There have also been separate bids, not least by Callum Lumsden in the 1990s for an interiors group.

But there is still a gap and if Pringle gets his way, the RIBA might be the one to fill it. It’s early days, but the idea has great potential.

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