All appears to be going well for Designs of the Time, the Design Council-backed initiative to promote design locally through projects and events, which is currently making its mark in the North East of England.
Dott07, headed by international design activist John Thackara and local champion Robert O’Dowd and organised by the council with regional development agency One North East, is addressing issues as diverse as urban farming, transport and energy-efficiency in the home. Projects are community-based and so have particular relevance locally, though several have a national resonance.
This local bias is perhaps why we don’t hear much of Dott outside the North East, but we should surely know soon which region will succeed it. Dott is a ten-year programme with five regions set to benefit from biennial design interventions.
The Design Council hedged its bets in kicking off in the North East. One North East has long been proactive in design and Newcastle/Gateshead has gained national recognition through the Millennium Bridge, the Baltic arts complex and Sage music centre. Its cultural credentials were intact long before Thackara’s team intervened.
Applying a similar logic, the North West would be top choice for Dott09, given that Liverpool’s City of Culture status for 2008 will ensure that the design infrastructure is in place ahead of the Dott visitation. But perhaps that is too cynical.
So which region should be next? Is it the area around Cardiff, which has seen amazing rebirth, if a little conservatism in shunning Zaha Hadid’s contest-winning scheme for the Cardiff Bay Opera House? Has Glasgow had its share of trail-blazing? Can activists in Devon and Cornwall claim the honour for the South West or is the South Coast a better bet, with Brighton as an established design centre and Littlehampton and other towns getting the design message?
The Design Council remains tight-lipped about its plans, but which region would you nominate?
Lynda Relph-Knight, Editor