Civil Service must streamline its design buying system

So now we have the full story about Government commissions, thanks to our anonymous correspondent (see Letters, page 11). If this consultancy’s experiences are the norm for public sector projects then the industry has its work cut out to change attitudes and practices within the Civil Service. It is hardly surprising that those involved are getting restive, given the gross waste of resources current design-buying policies entail (see News, page 3).

I stand by the view that the opening up of Government channels for design is a welcome shift and could provide a number of lucrative projects. It could also boost design’s influence, with high-level quasi-public projects such as the 2012 Olympic Games in the offing.

But the battle is not won and the Design Business Association and the Design Council need to impress on Government clients the merits of both good design, and effective procurement procedures and management.

The DBA and Design Council are charged with this task, but they need our support. Feedback about Government pitches or rosters is invaluable to help them make their case, but we’re also looking for positive solutions or examples borrowed from other fields or nations that could inform the UK industry. If you have anything to contribute, please e-mail me at

Holiday hobbies

What a pleasure it was to find a copy of David Chaloner’s latest opus, Collected Poems, on my desk. While most of us take to the beach, the Conran & Partners interior and retail design director turns to crafting words.

He’s not the only designer with versatile talents. Mike Dempsey’s art is shown in an Islington Gallery, for example, Michael Johnson is renowned for his guitar-playing and Identica’s Geoff Halpin has made his own cowboy boots.

So how will you spend the summer – mowing the lawn or penning that novel?

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