RIBA sets up product design forum

A Royal Institute of British Architects forum that aims to enhance the role of architects in product design has been welcomed by the design profession. But Design Business Association chairman Paul Priestman says designers should be encouraged to participate.

The Product and Innovation in Architecture group hopes to promote integration between architecture, design and manufacturing, says its chairman Irving Brauer.

‘It would be churlish to exclude designers, as we aim to have an inclusive membership. But they’d have to be involved in creating the building fabric. It’s about engineering products, not styling,’ Brauer adds.

At issue are ‘substandard products’ that are difficult to install onsite, says RIBA vice-president of practice Tim Gough.

Priestman does not regard PIA as the threat to designers, but says it should not overlook the contribution they can make.

‘My message to [PIA] would be keep on broadening. The more the RIBA explores the area of professional co-operation, the more it will understand it’s not just a one-way process. The barriers are [continually] coming down between the different disciplines. We’re all creative people. We all understand 3D form,’ he says.

One way for designers to get involved is by advising on the innovation of ‘modular’ products used both in architecture projects and other environments like aeroplane and train interior design, adds Priestman.

Gough describes PIA as a ‘worthwhile venture’, which will help interdisciplinary working and enhance the ‘interfaces’ between manufacturers, architects and designers.

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