CSD squander chance to make a difference

Presidents of professional bodies don’t resign on a whim. The job carries too much responsibility. So what exactly is this review that Nick Jenkins was prepared to give up his position for just under a year into a two-year presidential term?

Regular readers will be aware of the review of design representation initiated by Design Business Association chairman Jonathan Sands and supported by the Design Council, Design Week and, until last week, the CSD. The aim is to bring together the industry’s main exponents to thrash out a way forward for designers and to boost design’s standing and potency with clients, public agencies, the media and consumers.

Review team members have come to the table with an open mind, agreeing to pursue the best for design and set aside personal and political agendas. That openness will prevail during a two-day conference in Halifax next week, when people sharing a passion for design will meet to set out objectives. Not everything is likely to be achievable – or we wouldn’t be thinking broadly enough. But everyone concerned will try to make things happen, and quickly.

One suggestion might be that the CSD and DBA close to form a unified body – though nothing so radical can happen without the members’ vote. Or it might be that the status quo prevails, but with a stronger dialogue between the two bodies and better services.

The CSD’s reasons for pulling out at this stage are not entirely clear. We only have the statement from vice-president Adrianne LeMan to go on (DW 13 June). It has been working on its own strategic review, and will present the results at its AGM next Wednesday. But we can expect this to focus on the CSD’s own activities, its debt and the implications of the illness of its director Brian Lymbery, rather than the broader possibilities for design.

The CSD review is completely warranted, but quite separate from Sands’ initiative. It is regrettable that the society has thrown up the chance to help shape design’s future – and little wonder that Jenkins chose to resign.

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