Keeping the cool

The year opened with Land Securities assembling its first-ever formal retail design roster, appointing Small Back Room, Design House, Johnson Banks, Next Big Thing and Tsuko, among others.

Loewy consolidated its design groups, with The Team merging with Loewy Branding Communications, taking the name The Team and being run by Julian Grice. Seymour Powell merged with Loewy Brands & Packaging, extending the group’s offering into graphics and branding.

As for people moves, D&AD appointed The Partners’ creative director Greg Quinton as its new education chairman, and former Established & Sons design director Mark Holmes launched his first solo venture, Minimalux. Futurebrand president Jean-Louis Dumeu stepped down, and Czech-born architect Jan Kaplicky, founder of Future Systems, died at the age of 71.

February was a busy month in design. Turner Duckworth won a Grammy for its work on Metallica’s Death Magnetic album cover and Landor Associates Paris collaborated with Citroen’s in-house team on a much-maligned refresh of its corporate identity. After a brief and violent life, digital exhibition The Public Gallery finally gave up the ghost and pulled out of the West Bromwich arts centre The Public.

Lois Jacobs took up her role as global chief executive of Fitch, moving from Jack Morton Worldwide, ex-Fitch chief development officer Mark Artus took the reins at 1HQ as chief executive and former Vibrandt chairman Ray Armes resurfaced with his own consultancy, Touch of Mojo. Jones Knowles Ritchie appointed Ogilvy advertising manager Guy Lambert as its managing director.

Design Week revealed that Philippe Starck was to present his own Apprentice-style reality TV show on BBC Two, Design for Life. Meanwhile, Conde Nast embarrassed itself with the inaugural cover of magazine Love, which featured a naked Beth Ditto, as had a much-vaunted cover of NME magazine two years previously.

Land Design Studio unveiled its £9m permanent exhibition, the O2 British Music Experience, while Cog Design created the branding for Antony Gormley’s One & Other project in London’s Trafalgar Square. Less welcome public art news saw Manchester City Council announce that Thomas Heatherwick’s B of the Bang sculpture was to be pulled down after spikes fell off it.

Envisaging a summer of staycations, Butlins and Pontins announced that they were investing millions to upgrade their facilities, benefiting design groups including Newman Guage and Premier Lighting. The Brand Union was appointed as Merrill Lynch’s global brand partner, following the investment bank’s acquisition by Bank of America.

A dry, warm March contrasted with stormy weather in design. Landor Associates made six redundancies, on top of its October 2008 cull of ten. Those axed included creative director Derek Johnston. Futurebrand also shed three members of its senior management team. WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell told

Design Week that design will be in recession for the next two years, after announcing that WPP’s profits fell by about 5.8 per cent in 2008.

London on Tap put its winning carafe design by Neil Barron on sale to restaurants, hoping to encourage diners to drink tap water. Interbrand named clothing retailer H&M as the most valuable retail brand in Europe, Shepard Fairey’s Barack Obama posters won Brit Insurance Design of the Year and Peezy from Funnelly Enough was Best of Show in the DW Awards. Michael Thomson stepped down as president of the Bureau of European Design Associations after two years. He was replaced by Jan Stavik, while Design Business Association chief executive Deborah Dawton was appointed vice-president.

The design industry reacted with dismay to Chancellor Alistair Darling’s budget, which was criticised for its failure to cut red tape around employment law and a hike in high-rate income tax, though the move to freeze Capital Gains Tax was welcomed. Meanwhile, an Interbrand report showed the financial sector was performing worst in the recession, having been hit by ‘the hurricane scenario’, and the Cardiff Design Festival announced that it would shrink from a three-week event to just one week.

In transport news, Minale Tattersfield was unveiled as the designer of London Mayor Boris Johnson’s London bicycle-hire scheme, while a Transport for London shake-up saw group design manager Innes Ferguson replaced by Jon Hunter. Italian group Pininfarina, meanwhile, saw off Seymour Powell to scoop the Eurostar refurbishment contract.

Gary Hustwit’s product design film Objectified launched in the UK, with Jonathan Ive and Marc Newson attending the premiere. The UK was ranked fourth in the first International Design Scoreboard, by a team led by Cambridge University. Singapore topped the table.

Design Bridge announced it was reducing staffing levels in a group-wide restructure, Elmwood embarked on a global restructure, which would see a new management team set up, Lambie-Nairn opened a new office in Abu Dhabi, and Navyblue opened an Oman office in a bid to ‘protect against the downturn’ by expanding overseas.

Imagination came out top in Design Week’s 2009 Top 100 Survey, with a total fee-income of £38.402m, while big contracts saw Newcastle-based Gardiner Richardson create an identity for the Tyne and Wear Metro transport system, Pentagram chosen to design the new identity for the Museum of Liverpool, and Rufus Leonard appointed as lead digital consultancy for British Gas following an eight-way pitch.

Industrial designer David Mellor, who was famed for his cutlery designs and also redesigned the national traffic light system and created a square postbox design, died at the age of 78.

The new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was created following a Cabinet reshuffle. It is headed by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, who took on responsibility for design policy at Government level. David Kester, chief executive of the Design Council, said the reshuffle had ‘played out very well for the design agenda’. London Design Festival lynchpin 100% Design announced it was reducing its footprint at Earls Court, partly as a result of the recession – Designersblock said it would run its main exhibition in the Earls Court One space.

Graphic designer Matt Dent won a Yellow and a Black Pencil at the D&AD Awards for his reverse designs for UK coins for the Royal Mint, while Michael Peters picked up the President’s Award.

Tim O’Kennedy was named as the new chief executive of D&AD, following a two-year hunt to fill the post. Other moves and changes saw Robert O’Dowd, executive producer of Designs of the Time 2007, appointed executive director of Dott Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and Tord Boontje replace Ron Arad as the Royal College of Art’s head of design products. Lloyd Northover split its operation across two sites as part of a wider restructure by parent company Media Square, while Start Creative opened a new office in Beijing, China.

Transport was at the top of London’s agenda as Boris Johnson rolled out ‘spanking new’ Overground trains, built by rail equipment manufacturer Bombardier. Transport for London’s new head of design, Jon Hunter, also announced a tender to find designers for a new river transport project.

The Design Council and the British Chambers of Commerce created a partnership to promote the value of design to UK businesses, while Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw reiterated the Government’s view that the creative industries are key to the UK’s future on the international stage.

A report by New Deal of the Mind and the Arts Council called for Margaret Thatcher’s enterprise scheme for the creative industries to be brought back, and Anti Copying in Design launched two petitions for delivery at 10 Downing Street in a call to recognise intellectual property crime in law. The D&AD Student of the Year prize went to Micheline Mannion, and Petra Muda and Harri Leppala, while Ruth Ashton and Lizzie Mary Cullen won the New Designers One Year On awards.

In a campaigning month, the Government’s decision to scrap the charge for online public-contract portal was hailed as the first step towards a freer and more open public procurement system. The Royal Designers for Industry criticised parent body the Royal Society of Arts for the way it researched and launched its Design & Society manifesto, and Creative & Cultural Skills proposed a code of practice on graduate placements in a bid to end the reliance on unpaid internships.

The London Development Agency launched its High Street 2012 regeneration initiative, promising opportunities for landscape, lighting and streetscape design, public art commissions and events. It also pledged £500 000 to ‘develop the creative skills of Londoners’ ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

The economic downturn continued to bite. The Lighthouse, Scotland’s centre of architecture, design and the city, went into administration, and D&AD made 12 job cuts. Holmes & Marchant planning director Emma Atkinson was made redundant as part of ongoing restructuring.

Contract wins saw HOK appointed to design the interiors of phase two of the BBC’s Broadcasting House development. Start Creative secured a project to brand six cities in China, while JHP won a joint pitch with architect Aedas to design a Hong Kong rail terminus.

The month of the London Design Festival and 100% Design started with a furore over the Greater London Authority’s tender to create a new logo and identity for the capital, which asked for unpaid creative work in the first round. Consultancy Lambie-Nairn boycotted the competition. The Intellectual Property debate gathered pace, as inventor Trevor Baylis, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, Innovation Minister David Lammy and designer Sebastian Conran spoke on the issue.
Meanwhile, the Central Office of Information revealed plans to scrap its ‘design and creative for print’ roster and split it into three new frameworks – ‘branding and brand identity’, ‘content and publishing’, and ‘design and related services’ – to speed up the procurement process.

Design Week’s Freelance Salary Survey showed that pay rates for freelance designers had dropped by 17.25 per cent in the past year. In an eventful week, Sebastian Conran announced his departure from Conran & Partners to set up his own consultancy, and Poke co-founder Simon Waterfall said he would wind down his day-to-day responsibilities as creative director. Other moves included Simon ‘Sanky’ Sankarayya, founder of All of Us, being appointed president-in-waiting of D&AD.

Elmwood and The Team both won five Design Business Association Design Effectiveness Awards, Royal College of Art graduates Yusuf Mohammed and Paul Thomas won the James Dyson Award for emerging designers, and the British Council crowned United Arab Emirates designer Rami Farook its International Young Design Entrepreneur 2009.

October was bookended by Birmingham City Council and Reading University both becoming embroiled in controversy over design tenders. While Birmingham Council fell into the free-pitching trap in its search for an identity for the Library of Birmingham, in the case of Reading University, design groups had already gone through pre-qualification and provided creative samples, costings and case studies when the framework tender was pulled.

The month was a hotbed for the announcement and completion of Olympic projects. Cogapp branded and created the website and marketing materials for London 2012’s art commissioning programme, the International Olympic Committee announced a public competition to design a medal for the Youth Olympic Games and Someone’s Olympic Pictograms were unveiled.

The Gyrofocus fireplace was named the most beautiful object in the world at the Pulchra design contest, Brompton bike designer Andrew Ritchie claimed the 50th annual Prince Philip Designers Prize, and the inaugural British Ceramics Award went to Louise Taylor, indicating a resurgence in the discipline. New projects unveiled included Dyson’s bladeless fan and NB Studio’s Design Out Crime identity, which was commissioned by the Home Office’s Design and Technology Alliance Against Crime and the Design Council.

Design Business Association research showed that charge-out rates had dropped among senior staff, benefits have been cut and pay increases limited. At the same time the Government announced plans to provide cash for up to 1125 new creative apprenticeships.

Boris Johnson expanded his advisory London Design Panel to include architects Sir Terry Farrell and Eric Parry, following the addition of Tate director Nicholas Serota. Identity projects included Digit’s redesign of the MSN butterfly logo, which was unveiled ahead of the brand’s US relaunch.

Elmwood’s head of European operations Nick Ramshaw and European vice-president Nicolas Mamier announced that they were both leaving the consultancy. The unlinked departures followed a management reshuffle and a number of redundancies. At the same time an acquisition of Martin Lambie-Nairn’s consultancy ML-N by branding group Heavenly saw the consultancies become partners. Fitch founder Rodney Fitch announced his departure from the WPP consultancy.

The £21m digital space Phoenix Square Centre in Leicester opened its doors, with interiors led by architect Marsh Grochowski, which worked with Atkinson Design. Branding was completed by local group New English. The end of a two-year project, it opened as Gordon Murray Design announced a £9m electric car project that will see their T27 vehicle developed with Zytec Automotive by 2011. It also transpired that the terrorist-hit Taj Mahal Palace & Tower was being refurbished throughout by James Park Associates, which claims to have renovated 280 rooms with 40 different configurations.

As Pantone announced 15-5519 Turquoise as its colour of the year for 2010, highlighting the ‘sense of protection and healing’ it offers in stressful times, December has seen tentative speculation about when the recession might end. However, with Alistair Darling’s Pre-Budget Report hailed by financial experts as ‘unhelpful to design’, it seems we might not be out of the woods yet. The Audi Design Foundation announced that it was to close and D&AD said it would move the New Blood show to the East End in 2010.

The run-up to Christmas has seen Someone’s Paralympics pictograms unveiled, Artillery Architecture and Interior Design open an Abu Dhabi office, and PDD and Nottingham group Jupiter Design completing management buyouts.

A survey revealed that 43 per cent of designers may change jobs when the recession ends. Senior Interbrand creatives Andy Howell, Jonathan Hubbard and Pete Dewar didn’t wait that long, announcing they were forming their own consultancy next year.

Meanwhile, Jamie Oliver Holdings was named Client of the Year at Design Week’s third Benchmark awards, in recognition of the brand’s excellence in commissioning design. Turner Duckworth’s Coca-Cola branding and Hat-Trick’s British Heart Foundation campaign won Best of Show.


  • Citroen by Landor Associates Paris
  • Reckitt Benckiser by The Workroom
  • Tyne and Wear Metro by Gardiner Richardson
  • United Kingdom Supreme Court by Redpath
  • Hays by Interbrand
  • HTC by Figtree
  • National Trust by Wolff Olins
  • MSN by Digit


  • D&AD President’s Award: Michael Peters
  • D&AD Black Pencils: Matt Dent, Droga5NYC (two), Art Co&m
  • Prince Philip Designers Prize: Andrew Ritchie
  • Design Business Association Design Effectiveness Awards Grand Prix: Solo Star disposable pen injector by DCA Design International
  • Design Week Benchmarks Best of Show: Turner Duckworth’s Coca-Cola branding and Hat-Trick Design’s The Small Creature for British Heart Foundation
  • Design Week Awards Best of Show: Peezy by Funnelly Enough with Maddison
  • First place in Design Week Top 100: Imagination
  • First place in Design Week Creative Survey: The Partners


  • The Sorrento streetlight by Priestman Goode and Speirs and Major
  • The Mo Dynamic seating cushion by Matter
  • The Peezy urine collection device by Funnelly Enough and Maddison
  • The Kyoto Box cardboard cooker by Jon Bøhmer
  • Sports wheelchairs by Motivation
  • The Automist anti-fire device by Yusuf Mohammed and Paul Thomas
  • Centre of the Cell exhibition space by Land Design Studio
  • Dyson Air Multiplier fan by James Dyson
  • BB1 emission-free car concept by Peugeot


  • Futurebrand president Jean-Louis Dumeu stepped down
  • Mark Artus became chief executive of 1HQ
  • Landor made six redundancies including creative director Derek Johnston
  • Futurebrand axed its senior management team, including managing director Jasmine Montgomery, managing creative partner Tina Prior and head of strategy Piers Guilar
  • Jan Stavik succeeded Michael Thomson as president of the Bureau of European Design Associations
  • Tim O’Kennedy became chief executive of D&AD
  • Robert O’Dowd became executive producer of Designs of the Time
  • Tord Boontje replaced Ron Arad at the Royal College of Art
  • European heads Nick Ramshaw and Nicolas Mamier left Elmwood
  • Futurebrand appointed Pete Hollingsworth as managing creative director consumer
  • Rodney Fitch stepped down as chairman of Fitch

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