One hundred per cent push following festival is required

We are facing a week where reputations are made, new talent is spotted and there’s a glow of pride around the UK design scene. It’s the week when contemporary furniture and accessories show 100% Design and its attendant events, including the alternative showcase Designersblock, reinforces London’s international standing as a major centre for design (see feature on page 22, and pull-out).

The main thrust of these shows is 3D design, and lifestyle in particular, which doesn’t concern the bulk of the UK design profession. But their impact on public awareness is key, opening doors for design in areas other than interiors.

Add to this other events under the London Design Festival umbrella next week and the case for design should be clear to all. The important thing for consultancies and in-house design teams is to build on the goodwill generated by the festival rather than to plod on as before in the weeks that follow.

An issue worth pushing for is greater accreditation for designs. Why shouldn’t a designer be named as author of a piece of design? It shows a pride in and commitment to design by the client and, apart from promoting those named, could give designers added strength when defending their legal rights against copyists.

Exhibitors at events like Designersblock aren’t bad at this. The designer is the exhibitor so authorship is clear. To an extent this is also true of 100% Design, it being a very design-aware event. But what about those other opportunities to identify designers, be it at a show or in-store? – surely something worth fighting for.

Harnessing talent

Congratulations to Alex Lyne, a former sixth former at Framlington College and winner of the Audi Design Foundation Young Designer of the Year. Both he and David Lister of Yarm School, whose harness to carry a stretcher in rough terrain was voted the most marketable product in the contest, received a kick-start to their careers via generous prizes attached to the awards.

Lyne and Lister’s talents apart, the contest as a whole throws up a key message for product design. Most of the 26 sixth formers selected for the national finals were outstanding and some of the best were only 17. Particularly striking was the confidence and knowledge with which they put their ideas across to the judges.

It bodes well for the future with these young brains making their way into the profession. Let’s hope UK manufacturers wake up to their potential before they find better prospects abroad.

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