We’ve heard it all before – pundits speaking out about the cost of design for public projects. But the piece that appeared in The Times on Boxing Day went one step further. Taking the 60th anniversary logo for the National Health Service as its cue, the newspaper quoted Tory MP Greg Hands as saying ‘anyone with an average brain’ could design, given the software packages available.
Inevitably, Hands’ words have prompted a response (see News, page 3 and Voxpop, page 11). Members of design collective Design Assembly, in particular, have taken Hands to task over the issue. But while they are justified in their concerns over his attitude to design, it is surely time that, as an industry, we progressed the argument supporting its commercial and social effectiveness, rather than merely sniping back at our attackers.
With the exception of the Design Council, which is slowly making inroads into the public sector, bodies such as the Design Business Association and D&AD have gone quiet on the subject. The DBA is no doubt anticipating the report it is working on with The Associate Parliamentary Design and Innovation Group to boost public sector procurement of design, delayed from November 2009 and now due to be published early this year, while D&AD probably does not see client issues as part of its remit.
But how much more helpful it would be if one or all of the bodies were poised to respond unprompted in print and on public platforms whenever wild allegations are made about the cost, rather than the value, of design, using reasoned argument to make the case. We are certainly blessed with astute practitioners of stature whose voices would be heard.
It is all very well pointing up the failings of clients and public figures to grasp design’s contribution to business and the community, but it is up to us to persuade them to reconsider their views. Many of us are, after all, in the business of effective communication and should use our expertise more to push our own cause.
Lynda Relph-Knight, Editor