Glimpse of sunshine as raft of developments signal industry optimism

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With June already upon us, what better time than mid-summer to take stock of design’s prospects in the coming months.

We start the month on a high following an optimistic showing by groups in Design Week’s Top 100, published last week. Those groups not only turned in a healthy financial performance during 2010, but they are bullish about 2011 which gives cause for celebration.

The news came in the wake of a Government move that, for once, could bring benefits for design the appointment of ’Queen of Shops’ Mary Portas to consider ways to halt the decline in the UK high street. With so many independent retailers shutting up shop as centres such as London’s Westfield sites compete for trade and online shopping gains popularity, a big push is needed to stop the rot, and if anyone can provide that, it is surely Portas.

Democratic movements such as crowd-sourcing offer a chance of leadership for designers

The good thing is that Portas understands the value of design. Her TV shows have included interiors in the regeneration mix, with Callum Lumsden, Blacksheep, Kinnersley Kent and Epoch providing design. We can only expect greater engagement with design as her review takes form.

Opportunities for design will also come from the rise of social media as a platform for brand messages. The superinjunction debacle has cast doubts over networks such as Twitter and Facebook, but designers can still guide clients towards appropriate representation there. And it isn’t just interactive design that could benefit. Groups with a firm grasp of branding, prepared to broaden their repertoire beyond packaging and identity, could also do well.

Democratic movements such as crowd-sourcing have still to prove their worth. But even if they gain momentum, they offer a chance of leadership for designers, particularly those who see themselves as interpreters or ’storytellers’ in the broader arena.

These are just a few pointers of what’s in store in some cases quite literally. How do you think design can best capitalise on the opportunities?

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