Commercial world unaware of design’s true value

Reading the various Vox Pop comments on the Jerwood Applied Arts Prize (DW 23 September), I am struck by the curious and rather tentative nature of the question.

Reading the various Vox Pop comments on the Jerwood Applied Arts Prize (DW 23 September), I am struck by the curious and rather tentative nature of the question.

Creativity is inextricably bound by both craft and design. Creativity is the process of bringing something into being. Forming the result into a viable, necessary and acceptable result is what designers should be doing each time they apply themselves to the waking day.

It is largely the fault of education (at most levels), the Crafts Council and the Design Council that such a dichotomy should exist. Having recently taken part in a discussion, The Foreign Affairs of Dutch Design, organised by the Royal Netherlands Embassy, it was interesting to note that the Anglo-Saxon word ‘design’ is seen as equating to ‘something trendy or stylish or fashionable in brash colours and odd shapes’. The Dutch prefer to use the descriptors ‘ontwerp’ or ‘vormgeving’ which mean ‘giving form to’ or even ‘making things better for people’.

Certainly, Angus Hyland and Frith Kerr are spot on. Craft and design are inseparable.

What this debate opens up is the incredible ignorance we labour under regarding what this ‘business’ of ‘design’ really is. Our Government and its Arts Minister should be doing something about this now, even as the two aforementioned councils begin to emerge from beneath the cloud of political indifference to an ‘industry’ that is worth in the region of £25bn a year to our economy.

Let us have prizes, that’s fine, but let us also really begin a process to alert a still woefully ignorant commercial world of the true value of design and its necessary position alongside (ahead of?) advertising, research and all forms of reductive management processes.

David Chaloner

Director

Conran & Partners

London SE1

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