Product initiative snubs designers

Product designers are up in arms over the application procedure for the Design Council’s Millennium Products initiative, which means they cannot enter products in their own right.

Design groups wanting to enter the scheme to promote British innovation abroad can only enter indirectly through clients, and designers’ details are not required on the application form.

Around 30 product design groups have so far approached promotional agency The British Design Initiative to register their disappointment. These include Fitch, Tangerine, IDEO, Random Product Design, Cambridge Consultants, Atlantic Design, Kinneir Dufort and Pearson Matthews.

“It [the application form] asks for the name of the chief executive, the marketing director, even the press officer – but for the designer, nothing,” says BDI chief executive Maxine Horn.

Design Council chief executive Andrew Summers argues there is room to list design consultancies as a contributing factor to a product’s success.

“Most successful products are a team effort… There is not room to list them all. This is not a design initiative but an innovation one,” says Summers.

He concedes that, of more than 3500 applications so far submitted by manufacturers, only a small proportion list design as a driving factor of success.

“It would be nice to see our contributions acknowledged as design can be an important factor in the success of a product,” says Cambridge Consultants marketing manager Diane Aston James. Random Product Design business development manager David Smith agrees that designers should be credited.

But Summers says the initiative is still at an early stage. “Later we will be developing stories to go with the products. Although we don’t have an exact format yet, these will look at who made the real difference to the success and often that will be the designers,” adds Summers.

The deadline for the first round of submissions is 16 January 1998, with a decision expected to be announced in April.

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