Alliance gives cohesion to local networks

As much as I agree with the general idea of your editorial (DW 3 February) about local design networks, I would have to say that the cohesion you feel is lacking is in fact there, in the form of the Design Alliance.

Last year, I founded the Milton Keynes Design Forum, primarily with the aim of connecting the diverse mix of creative talent we have here and to promote this talent to businesses in the area.

Admittedly there was a certain degree of self-interest in this. But, far from finding a lack of cohesion between the various forums around, I found I gained tremendous support both from other design forums with advice about setting up and developing the forum, and from the Design Council, which was instrumental in getting me connected to those forums in the first place.

It was through reading articles about the first Design Alliance meeting that I gained any idea of design forums and my initial intention was simply to join my local one, until I discovered that we did not have one that covered our region.

Since its inception, the Design Alliance has been a key supporter in helping us to grow and to focus our energies. The founding points of the MKDF are lifted directly from the manifesto the Design Alliance put out and we have become signatories to it. I also attended the last Design Alliance meeting, which was a tremendous opportunity to meet other creatives involved in supporting their local communities.

It is also through the Design Alliance and other design networks that I managed to get in front of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Society of British Interior Design, two bodies whose attention I had not succeeded in getting on my own.

The Design Alliance is managing to support our network without being too ’hands-on’, allowing us to grow without following a set template, but there to support us when we need it. And, based on what I heard at the last meeting, this support is set to continue and grow.

Thank you for a creating such a wonderful, thought-provoking and inspiring magazine, by the way. I would also like to thank your publication for its support in getting the MKDF on its feet.

James Beston, Founder, Milton Keynes Design Forum,, by e-mail

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