National initiatives need widespread buy-in

Several of the Design Business Association’s suggestions made it into the Cox Review, such as the recommendation to encourage greater use of creative talent in the boardroom. The DBA will be pursuing this vigorously, along with the development of a design-matching service that it is already working on with the Design Council, for launch next year. This will open the UK design industry to international design buyers – something that the DBA considers crucial to the long-term future and reputation of our creative industry.


Given the difficulty of engaging with SMEs, a network of regional Creativity and Innovation centres may help to coordinate all of the disparate activities. But I’ve yet to see a managing director so moved by a design exhibition that he or she walks into work on Monday morning and starts the design ball rolling. I have my doubts about public engagement programmes. I applaud the idea of a nationwide programme, but, given the number of regional initiatives already underway, perhaps we should have considered what they contribute first. Couldn’t the best aspects of all these programmes have been pulled together to formulate one that was welcomed by all because of their contribution to designing it? National implementation requires national buy-in.


The DBA will pursue Cox’s recommendations for the public procurement of design, an area rife with misconduct – the cost of which is borne by design consultancies. It aims to extend the training it offers to public sector design buyers.


The UK design industry will not change overnight. Part of the DBA’s role is to ensure that consultancies nationwide become more professional and better able to manage an increase in demand for design. Those that succeed will be those best able to drive efficiency and effectiveness right through their businesses, and our aim is to develop their skills in that respect.


Deborah Dawton, Chief executive, Design Business Association, London EC1V

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