What do you make of British Airways’s decision to close its centralised design department, make its head of design redundant, and disperse the design function across different areas of marketing and product development?
As a director of an external design consultancy, I say, ‘Three cheers’, although it is very sad for those concerned. Our design for Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Suite was developed with support from its in-house team, and perhaps this is the ideal – where external designers are, effectively, guardians of the design and can enforce decisions.
Luke Pearson, Co-founder, Pearson Lloyd Design
There is reason for concern – not because design management has been dissipated, but because of the potential loss of focused design leadership. Without this, design will become a tactical activity and will lose British Airways long-term shareholder value.
Raymond Turner, Raymond Turner Associates
It’s madness! Mike Crump and his team helped to initiate, manage and deliver the products and services that made British Airways the world’s most profitable airline. I hope the business has the courage to realise its mistake, before he is snapped up by another.
Martin Darbyshire, Managing director, Tangerine It’s barking mad. We have worked with British Airways for years and have always been amazed that such a small team has succeeded at putting quietly confident innovation at the heart of the brand. BA has set a standard that others follow and, if it doesn’t continue to refine the air travel experience, its competitors will.
Adam White, Creative partner, Factory Design
Moving designers to their respective functions can make the designers more effective and accountable. But there has to be a credible cross-function design management structure in place, as it is more difficult to identify and control design costs.
Paul King, Retail director, Vivid Brand
An organisation the size of British Airways should view design as a strategic resource and not leave it entirely to external consultants, as they cannot have the depth of knowledge to sell design to all BA’s internal customers.
Colum Lowe, Head of design and human factors, NHS National Patient Safety Agency