Peter Mandelson’s London Design Festival opening speech (www.designweek. co.uk, 16 September 2008) was cited in your review of 2008 (DW 18 December) as an indicator of a possible role for design in creating a knowledge economy.
Well, don’t get your hopes up about the Secretary of State for Business’s sympathy for, or understanding of, design.
In his major speech on the ‘new industrial activism’ at the Royal Society of Art last month, Mandelson didn’t once refer to design.
When asked about the role he envisaged for design and the creative industries, the best he could do was refer to
the competitive advantage they conferred.
Ideas as ambitious as design creating a ‘knowledge economy’, whether or not they make sense, were absent.
Mandelson’s industrial strategy is banal, bordering on the cynical, and shows no understanding of the potential of design.
However, the next time he speaks, I hope there will be more representatives of the UK design industry present to put a progressive case, in response.
Nico Macdonald, Director, Spy, London EC2