Architecture and design could benefit from a shared event

It is ironic that the Arts Council should pull out of Architecture Week at a time when the profession is getting important airtime in the media.

In recent weeks, it has been hard to miss eminent architect Zaha Hadid on TV and radio, prompted by a major retrospective at London’s Design Museum and the Lilas sculptural installation, created with Patrik Schumacher, at the Serpentine Gallery. Meanwhile, Thomas Heatherwick’s East Beach pavilion at Littlehampton on the South Coast has merited much attention.

Maybe the Arts Council believes architecture has enough presence and doesn’t warrant a public ‘week’. Certainly, activists such as Peter Murray, instigator of New London Architecture and the Architecture Biennale, and Open House founder Victoria Thornton will plough on regardless.

The same could be said of design, with September’s London Design Festival deemed by some to be a catch-all for events that would happen anyway, on the back of 100% Design and its new East End counterpart Tent. As in architecture, some of our staunchest activists, like ace networker Phil Jones, Master of the Faculty of Royal Designers Mike Dempsey and digital mover Poke, have little involvement in the LDF.

It is the nature of design and architecture that things will happen anyway, regardless of official backing. But it would be great if the Arts Council saw benefits in bringing the disciplines together for a shared event. Each can inspire the other.

Happily, the Design Museum has done this, under Deyan Sudjic’s enlightened directorship. Hadid’s extravaganza is balanced with an equally impressive showcase of Jonathan Barnbrook’s campaigning graphics work. The result is hugely stimulating whichever end of the creative spectrum you come from.

Arts Council chairman and Royal College of Art rector Professor Sir Christopher Frayling has seen first hand how this can work, through the RCA’s recent Great Exhibition. We urge him to champion the concept within the council to get the creative industries the backing they deserve.

LYNDA RELPH-KNIGHT, EDITOR

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