Lessons to learn from the Glasgow Collection

We wish Bruce Wood and his colleagues every success in their bid to extend the Glasgow Collection initiative beyond the March 2000 deadline (see News, page 3).

We wish Bruce Wood and his colleagues every success in their bid to extend the Glasgow Collection initiative beyond the March 2000 deadline. The exhibition of projects embraced by the initiative, currently on show at The Lighthouse in Glasgow and due to travel internationally soon, demonstrates what can be achieved when the right designer is introduced to the right manufacturer.

The Glasgow Collection is a great way of fostering new creative talent, like local design groups One Foot Taller and The VK & C Partnership, both of which are now successful in their own right. But it is also interesting to see the outcome of collaboration between established London designers such as Jasper Conran and Factory with local manufacturers – in this instance Bute Fabrics and hi-fi company Linn Products – that they might not otherwise have encountered. The collection organisers must learn so much from the variety of project and partnership involved.

Wood has not yet elaborated on what form the collection might take in its second phase, but it is passion for the initiative rather than a need to hang on to his job that is driving his bid. He is on secondment from Glasgow School of Art’s product design department and is assured of a job there whatever happens. He is, however, right to want to push the project further, as it has yet to reach its full potential. He and his colleagues might steer the collection towards design challenges in the public arena, following the lighting project for the Hampden National Stadium, or they might heed the call by German designer Dieter Rams (DW 5 November) to create sustainable products, possibly for rent, rather than just another layer of artefacts.

Whichever way it goes it is clear that the Glasgow Collection provides a useful model that others can follow. There have been Government-backed funding schemes to encourage companies to use good design to heighten the competitiveness of their products and services, but none, to my knowledge, has been quite as hands on as this, or, indeed, run by folk with a design background.

Wood and his colleagues could sell their experience elsewhere, to emerging cities such as Lisbon or Cape Town that, like Barcelona and Glasgow, are looking to build their image through design. But it would be good to see the Design Council creating a similar scheme nationwide once its Millennium Products project is complete. What better brief for the council to give its new design director than to work in collaboration with industry director Harry Rich to move its support of product design on.

Latest articles