Hot fifty – Michael Thomson

Regular conference-goers in design will be aware of Michael Thomson. The self-effacing Irishman may seem an unlikely champion of design, but for years he has battled on the international scene to gain greater recognition for design among European governments.

Since 2005 Thomson has been president of the Bureau of European Design Associations, the overarching body that counts the likes of the UK’s Design Business Association among its supporters. Last October, he and other Beda representatives met the European Commission’s Portuguese president, José Manuel Barroso, and secured his verbal support for their activities.

As a result, the EC agreed last month to create a European system of design activity across European Union states, and is to publish a guide on design promotion strategies, making it easier to demonstrate the economic benefits of good design, and ensure consistent levels of funding for design across the EU, among other measures.

This protracted episode ramps up Beda’s long-standing campaign, with Thomson at the helm, to put forward a single European design front to combat competition from countries like China and South Korea that already have comprehensive design strategies.

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