The news last week that the Olympic Delivery Authority has opted to put its design procurement in the hands of the Central Office of Information serves as an indirect reminder of two things. First, that the Olympics is still a long, long way off, as demonstrated by the fact that not even the ODA yet knows just how big this slab of work will be. Second, that the COI print roster is a long, long list, on which many consultancies await work, more in hope than in expectation.
This isn’t to say that the news of the ODA’s decision has not been greeted with enthusiasm by the design consultancies on the roster. On the contrary, the arrival of a major new client at the COI is a cause for optimism among directors of design consultancies whose share of public sector work has not yet been as great as they might have liked.
‘It is obviously exciting news and we would love to get involved,’ says David Menezes, partner at rostered consultancy MM Design in Sheffield. ‘But being on the roster, we have to wait for them to approach us. We have been on it for several years now and it is a case of sit tight and wait, though I have a feeling we are not the only ones sitting tight and waiting.’
A number of consultancies that fought their way on to the revised list last spring haven’t heard a word since, according to Phil Dean, managing director of Thompson in Leeds. ‘They had two big sessions at their offices with about 100 people – all the great and the good were there,’ says Dean. ‘After that, they said to us, “Don’t worry. You are on the roster. You have done the hard bit. But don’t ring us up and hassle us.”‘
The COI’s ability to dispense work does, of course, depend on the budgets available to the Government agencies and departments, which make up its own client base.
Given that the COI also has an in-house facility of its own, some designers speculate that Government belt-tightening is to blame for the lack of commercial opportunities.
The Olympics promise to be a different kettle of fish, although the appointment of Wolff Olins to create the 2012 emblem for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, the private body tasked with planning and staging the Games, has led some to wonder whether there would be anything left for anyone else. ‘Our thinking was, Wolff Olins is doing the big brand, so is anybody else going to get a sniff?’ says Dean.
The good news for rostered consultancies is that the ODA, which is responsible for the planning and construction of new venues and other Games-related infrastructure, plans to channel all its design work through the COI roster.
‘I would have thought the roster would cover our requirements,’ says a spokeswoman for the ODA, adding that tests are still ongoing and the likely volume and nature of the work is as yet unknown.
The COI also confirms that it has no plans to add to the roster, sending a message to the 63 consultancies on the list that the wait for work could end at any time.
Then again, there are still six years to go before the Olympics kick off, so perhaps no one should get their hopes up too soon.
DESIGNING THE OLYMPICS:
• Olympic Delivery Authority will procure design exclusively from Central Office of Information roster
• Design and creative services for print roster contains 63 consultancies
• Wolf Olins already selected by London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games to create identity
• The Team already selected by ODA to provide marketing collateral
• Details and volume of forthcoming work yet to be agreed by ODA