When times turn tough design needs a united front

What is happening with the official design bodies? Not that many years ago their news and views were ever-present in the pages of Design Week – not least in the Letters section – but now we hardly ever hear a word.

What is happening with the official design bodies? Not that many years ago their news and views were ever-present in the pages of Design Week – not least in the Letters section – but now we hardly ever hear a word.

We hear a lot about events such as British Design & Art Direction’s London congress and the various exhibitions the Design Museum has on offer. We trust that the Design Council is doing its bit to serve its political

masters by putting design on the business agenda and keeping it there – though it’s gone mighty quiet over the past 12 months since David Kester took the helm and we still await his grand plan for the future.

We know that the Design Business Association has changed its line-up and suspect that the Chartered Society of Designers is still extant. But what are these organisations doing for their members and, more importantly, what are they doing to draw new recruits into the fold, to build the industry’s might and influence?

Having been in the business for almost 20 years, I recall times when these bodies were vibrant, with colourful leaders who played a proactive role in

design. They set down standards and did their best to vocalise their concerns and opinions in the media and elsewhere and there was a sense that design was a community – in London at least.

A good example of this was the Halifax Initiative of the mid-1990s, where the various bodies came together to discuss a way forward for design that involved having a single voice to speak to Government and the world at large. Whatever happened to that idea and do the bodies talk to each other at all these days?

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