Now that the design groups working on the Millennium Dome fit-out have been published, I can only agree with Giles Verlade (DW Letters, 13 January).
Small organisations offer potential clients the opportunity to develop a long-term fruitful working relationship. However, the methods used to select designers often work counter to this ideal.
I mean, of course, the creative tender or free-pitch, which actually threatens the financial viability of small design firms.
My company would not have considered applying for Millennium contracts had we not received a fax from Millennium Central, requesting us to submit company details. The fax states MCL’s criteria for the selection of companies is, “demonstrable design excellence and innovation by the company and its staff. It is aware that some companies which meet this criteria may be small… such circumstances will not, of themselves, preclude a company being selected. Indeed, MCL expects to contract with a range of such companies.”
Since the expected rejection letter arrived, I have phoned MCL (now the New Millennium Company) several times to ask why, along with certain other questions: Will the “tender process” require a creative submission? Will this be paid? Is there a written brief yet? How will the tenders be judged and by whom?
No one there, including the press office, could provide any answer. They did disclose that 30 companies submitted details and 22 were shortlisted, as well as mentioning Stephen Bayley in reference to the last question.
This seems an amazingly low entry considering the appeal was pan-European.
I do not know where MCL got my company’s name from, but, frankly, I object to having my time wasted as a make-weight to boost its figures. I would be interested to know how many other groups received this fax.
The most important question of all is why a sponsorship consultant was simply appointed, apparently just on his past record? I would rather my group be judged on past consistency, rather than the usual pitching or tender scenarios.
Will Peter Mandelson, or perhaps the great guru Bayley, kindly explain why some professions are treated more equally than others?
Name and address withheld