Design Council needs to fill staff gaps to fulfil its role

As we went to press, the Design Council was still awaiting news of its cash allocation from Government (see News in Depth, page 7).

The implications of Chancellor Alistair Darling’s Pre-Budget Report and Comprehensive Spending Review, though generally favourable, had yet to filter through its new master, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

The Design Council nonetheless issued its own statement, reviewing Government design-related initiatives. It also took the opportunity to restate its plans once it has secured funds from DIUS, expected to mirror its allocation from the now defunct Department of Trade & Industry for the past two years.

In the statement, the council reiterates its commitment to ‘creative industries, science and innovation, skills development, modern manufacturing, public services and procurement, and sustainability’.

That last assertion might raise eyebrows, given the recent redundancy of the council’s sustainability project leader Clare Brass. But there are, arguably, other gaps in the council’s line-up. The departure this month of deputy chief executive Harry Rich to head up Enterprise Insight has given design a valuable external ally, but Rich was the council’s champion of design in business and has not yet been replaced.

Early last year saw the surprise departure of Richard Eisermann as director of Design & Innovation, raising questions about the council’s links with the design community. Eisermann, whose job was axed, was the only senior designer on the staff, following on from Clive Grinyer.

The final high-profile vacancy is that of chairman, with Sir George Cox stepping down, having worked slavishly for design.

Design Council chief executive David Kester says he will take the opportunity to reshuffle the pack. Let’s hope he brings in a designer and keeps business high on the agenda. Skills development is a great mission, but only if there are outlets for the skills acquired.

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