The year ahead

Movers and shakers from the design industry share their dreams and predictions of what 2006 could bring.

Erick Davidson

Chairman of Tayburn

2006 will be a watershed year without a tsunami, but with an epiphany. Some brilliant new creative individuals will emerge, who will provide leadership and fresh direction to an industry stuffed with ‘me too’ mediocrity. They will be more caring, ethical and socially responsible. They will restore hope, pride and dignity to a creative world, which is at a low point and far too concerned with scrabbling for money. If only.

Patrick Smith

European chief executive of FutureBrand

Although the UK market remains tough and very competitive, 2005 has been an extremely exciting year. In particular, the small holding companies – namely Cello, Media Square and Creston – have all experienced significant growth and are coming to the fore. The US marketing and management consultancies have increasingly moved into our space, with varying degrees of success, and are broadening the strategy space for the rest of us. Eastern Europe has become the most dynamic market, full of opportunity and clients keen to invest in their brands.

Dilys Maltby

Partner at Circus

2006 will be the year of braver clients. The retail fall-out, which is sure to happen in January, will encourage clients to think beyond 20 per cent off as a brand differentiator. Value will not be enough to sustain advantage. Retail clients will want to interrogate what makes their brand distinctive, to define that more precisely, and then work with designers to express it through their stores. In the public sector, clients will continue to be more demanding of design, asking designers to help with process and substance, as well as visual expression. In education, we might work together to ensure that students on foundation courses are more than fee fodder and actually find the time valuable.

Cheryl Giovannoni

Managing director of Landor Associates

While media neutrality and brand-led solutions have been talked about for years, 2005 marks the beginning of an era when it has become the only future-proof way forward. The best branding groups already operate in a strategic, media-neutral, brand-centric way. So the future is optimistic for those confident enough to partner with clients, to build brands in this way. Work in developing markets, such as India, China and Russia, has exploded, as growing sophistication and a lack of strong local offerings makes the UK an obvious choice. The challenge is less about having a local presence, and more about marrying cultural sensitivity with strong strategic and creative skills.

Andy Knowles

Chief executive officer of Jones Knowles Ritchie

The tide has turned and growth is not going to be anywhere near as strong as Gordon Brown predicted. Next year will not be a disaster, but it won’t be as good as last year. British design is facing more creativity from overseas. Foreign consultancies are fighting, not only for local work against UK groups, but also moving into London. The PLC global design firm model is also looking less likely to succeed, with clients turning to local independents. In design, it’s health: a surge in interest in drinking and eating healthily is affecting brand packaging; and hype: a tendency of sensationalism over enduring style. A crisis of trust has resulted and consumers can be cynical of manufacturers that have jumped on the bandwagon. But, from this will emerge more humanity: a more human approach to design.

Paul Priestman

Director of Priestman Goode

We will be looking forward to a year where product will become more relevant to the way we really live. We need only look to the rise of the iPod in the past four years to witness a total step-change in behaviour, driven by product and technology. I think we’ll see a desire for more personalised, tailored solutions to living, in terms of product and environment. Client companies are seeing the value in investment in design thinking, at the initial stages of projects. Examples of such good practice encourage others to take the plunge, so I urge clients to share their success stories with others. Finally, we need to look to the next generation and ensure our graduates have the right skills for our evolving profession.


by Mandy Merron, Partner, Willott Kingston Smith

• Growth will continue in 2006, but clients will still want an Aston Martin for the cost of a Mini, employees will look for more money and margins will remain under pressure

• The market will be overcrowded and competition strong, although more client spend may lessen pressure

• More independent groups will sell or become buyers, as money continues to be available for this

• Procurement is here to stay and effectiveness case studies will be in demand

• Employee retention will be increasingly important

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