Last year in an idle moment, I happened to be browsing the Design Council website where I came across the school furniture scheme which offered £20 000 funding for joint designer and manufacturer proposals.
Fantastic, I thought. A customer of mine makes modular furniture systems for the education market, we have worked on many projects with them before – a perfect combination. I called the company up straight away – yes, they were very interested, exactly our market and where we want to go. Get the details. So I did.
The only problem was that I was looking at the site on 1 August 2002, and the deadline was 2 August 2002, so there was no time to prepare a joint bid.
When I contacted the Design Council press office I said I had never seen any announcements. ‘It was advertised in Design Week,’ they said. ‘We don’t get Design Week,’ I replied.
So it was with great interest that I read your feature on the outcome of the scheme (DW 27 February), and it made me think, what exactly does the Design Council offer?
First off, in these days of e-mail newsletters, and the fact that I have been registered on the Design Council site for years, why don’t I get a ‘latest news and new initiatives’ newsletter? That’s the obvious low-cost answer.
What I do get are expensive glossy (or recycled matte), totally content-free brochures from time to time that arrive with a thud, get skimmed, and then sent to the next stage of recycling.
That might have been OK in the 1980s, but nowadays this sort of expensive waste is unacceptable. I need information that will benefit both my business and the businesses of my customers. And I need it when it is relevant not when it is too late to act on.
As product designers, we work primarily with SME manufacturers across the UK, and none of my customers get any correspondence from the Design Council.
So, it does beg the question, why does it exist and what does it really offer?
What does it offer the design community (outside London) and the UK manufacturing business community? From a user’s perspective I am not seeing value for money here.
The schools furniture scheme is an example of initiatives that they could be running – it has clear goals, relatively low costs, tangible outcomes and increases the profile and importance of good design to a wide audience.
So why do the very businesses these schemes are aimed at not hear about them?
Shrewsbury SY1 1QU