Add this to the positive anecdotes being shared at industry dos and we can start to believe that the worst is over for design – for now at least.
What better time, therefore, to regroup and shape a better future, even with public spending cuts in the offing and another recession being predicted by some. And what better start point than the thoughts of a creative activist who has bounced back more than once from financial crises?
Simon Waterfall, now of Fray, but a founder of digital design groups Deepend and Poke, saw Deepend fail in the dotcom bust of 2001 and as D&AD President from 2008/9 helped that organisation out of the financial mire, yet still he maintains a positive outlook. Last week he told a design audience to ’put yourselves in harm’s way’ now to push boundaries and boost creativity. The premise is that you work to eat, metaphorically speaking, and risk is a way of achieving this.
Waterfall wasn’t just talking about food, but about sustenance in the broadest sense, taking a stance aptly summed up by Pearlfisher’s Jonathan Steel as ’creative bravery’.
Creative bravery manifests in great work and enhanced reputation among your peers – and it always shows in inventive business approaches. Looking back at the Top 100, Start Creative, for example, is thriving against the odds through a thrusting expansionist programme into overseas markets; Elmwood, meanwhile, had a challenging 2009, but a bold restructure and international growth plan has fuelled hopes for a good 2010.
Such examples show design at its best, refusing to lie down and take what is doled out. More consultancies need to heed the call to take risks – in the work as well as business – to rebuild their own and the industry’s standing.