Government policies are creating interesting opportunities for design

Whatever we think of the coalition Government, its policies are potentially creating new markets for design. The Big Society concept and planned liberalisation of some social services could lead to branding projects at least, albeit on a local scale.

This week, we investigate the implications of ’free schools’ for design (see News Analysis). The irony of Government axing the Building Schools for the Future programme as two exemplary new schools – Clapham Manor Primary School and Christ’s College in Guildford – are shortlisted for architecture’s prestigious Stirling Prize hasn’t gone unnoticed by the creative world.

Before the General Election Sir John Sorrell of the Sorrell Foundation called on whatever Government emerged to retain the schools building programme to give students environments more conducive to learning. Free schools are unlikely to fulfill that sentiment, given the capital investment involved, but good branding will aid their success.

Meanwhile, the review into the Design Council by Martin Temple on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is throwing up issues between design’s representative bodies. For the latest instalment of concerns over Lord Bichard’s alleged – and seemingly misunderstood – accusation of ’market failures’ in design (, 30 July), check out the Design Council discussion group on Linked In.

Whatever else comes out of Temple’s review, which could see the Design Council scrapped or its remit altered, the spats it is prompting forces a reassessment of design representation in the UK.

In the mid-1990s, design activists including the official bodies created the Halifax Initiative to see how design could speak with one voice. The outcome was the short-lived Design Unity, which generated dialogue between bodies.

Perhaps we should revisit that notion, given the diversification of design since. What do you reckon?

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