We need to unite as a profession to make sure we get our voice heard

Designers often admit to a moment of terror when faced with the inevitable dinner-party question, ’What do you do?’ Explaining that your work has nothing to do with fashion, architecture or hairdressing can become tedious and a designer’s response is sometimes a blatant lie to duck the issue.

But if we in design cannot explain the nature of what we do, its benefits and pitfalls, how can we expect other people to embrace design as the vehicle for aesthetic delight, functional improvements, better communication or social change? And how can we unite as a profession in the
It was ever thus, partly because of the huge diversity within a relatively small industry. The array of definitions put forward by our commentators this week – as Design Week launches a campaign to identify what design is and how it can move forward as an industry – bears that out, with many maintaining that diversity is design’s great strength (see News Analysis, and Insight).

We can, and should, glory in the richness of experience and outcomes design has to offer. But is this diversity – or our inability to harness it successfully – holding the industry back in the wider arena? Possibly so.

Design has been acknowledged by Government and others as a creator of national wealth, potentially giving the UK the competitive edge abroad, and a generator for social change. Yet as a community we find it hard to organise ourselves sufficiently to push our cause.

Martin Temple’s review of the Design Council has momentarily put the ’official’ spotlight on design in the way Sir George Cox’s earlier exercise did. It creates an opportunity for reflection and, ideally, action within the community to boost design’s status in business and beyond.

We welcome your response to the campaign and ideas on how to achieve its goals.

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