Strength through unity to control free pitching

There seems little point in writing to Kingston Council (, 8 July) to complain about their attitude to free pitching when 300 designers are chomping at the bit to take part. I suspect Kingston will receive far more expressions of interest to free pitch than complaints.

We are unfortunately in a culture of free, if not cheap, everything. The public expects free design, whether it’s the DIY store planning a kitchen or a printer doing the publicity.

But designers are also happy to benefit from free everything, free professional advice, free training, free documentation to practice, free online portfolios, royalty-free images, free magazines and so on, much of it provided by national or local government with partners operating in the design sector.

We are at a tipping point, if not past it, when the issue of free pitching appears of little interest to the vast majority of designers and is standard practice for most clients. As the professional body for design, our members still adhere to the code of conduct which rules against free or speculative pitching, and our Design Association Accreditation programme is designed to eradicate this practice.

The problem lies with design providers and users. The Chartered Society of Designers has a remit under its Royal Charter to promote professional practice within the design profession. If designers joined their professional body, ensuring a representative mass and adhering to the code, there is a chance that this practice could be better controlled.

But we should demand that the Design Council educates clients as well. It is its remit to promote design to business and it has the budgets to do so. As a Government body it is well placed to ensure that no Government departments, especially those which sponsor them, adopt this practice.

Frank Peters, Chief executive, Chartered Society of Designers & The Design Association, London SE1

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