We need more consistent backing of interaction design

It is good to see the Tent London organisers bidding to boost interaction design within the London Design Festival (see News).

Interaction design is one of the more interesting phenomena to come out of the creative industries in recent years and its development continues apace, regardless of current economic constraints. London has a reasonable claim as a hub of that activity.

The inaugural Tent Digital, held in east London’s Truman Brewery last month, made a small, but significant stab at intermingling interactive displays with the avant-garde designs more usually associated with Tent. Across town, in the capital’s first cinema at the University of Westminster, i-Design went further, staging a first-rate conference, interactive installations and short movies, as it went through its third incarnation.

Interestingly, neither of these events focused on website design – in fact, i-Design consciously avoided it, preferring to draw together examples of interaction from wayfinding and experiential design to lighting and art. Astute practitioners realise that the ‘fun’ experimental pieces of today hold keys to more practical applications in the future, including retail, museum and public-space design, and the Web is just one platform.

Government agencies have gone some way to recognising the importance of interaction design – or digital design as it was known – with the London Development Agency putting seed funding into i-Design’s creator, Dynamo London. There has been no more LDA funding, though the Arts Council lent support this year.

This is an encouraging sign, but it would be great to see the Government and the London authorities putting greater store by interaction design. If they were more consistent in their backing of i-Design as it considers a change of schedule to involve more students, or even lent support to Tent Digital as it separates out from its commercial parent, London could build its international reputation as a centre for the discipline.

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