What a roller-coaster year it’s been for design. Just as consultancies were raising their heads above the parapet with confidence for a working future post-recession, the Government axe started to swing and uncertainty reigns once more, particularly among the industry’s establishment.
This is why the interiors set will greet with muted joy news that a new interiors course at the Royal College of Art has been validated. While it will be a popular move, given the general furore that greeted news that interiors had been formally ejected from the architecture school following a name change prompted by Professor Nigel Coates in 2005, the fate of all RCA courses won’t be decided until January next year.
That news of the RCA validation comes as the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, shuts its interiors course doesn’t help (www.designweek. co.uk, 13 December). Questions still remain. This kind of dichotomy is true across design. Will, for example, the Design Council get into bed with the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, as suggested following the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, which left it with only charitable status? Or will it share back-room services and some initiatives with the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, as is now mooted?
But what does all this mean for the day-to-day business of design, where it’s tough enough to win and maintain clients? In the short term, very little, I suspect, but such moves indicate unwelcome shifts in how design is perceived as part of UK business and culture. The impact of cuts on ’arts’ education, in particular, doesn’t bode well.
But, as they say, cream always rises – and that’s not just true in colleges and consultancies, but about creativity as a whole. On that positive note I wish you a very happy Christmas and a successful new year.