As an ex-Dyson designer, now running a product design consultancy in Bath, I want to express my dismay and huge disappointment at the council’s decision not to sell the South Quay site to James Dyson for his School of Design Innovation. For a city that recently has been slated in The Observer, described as lacking in culture, depressing, backward and hostile to productive change, we have to ask how the Preservation Trust came to this decision.
James Dyson has so much to offer designers. After four years at Dyson I set up my own business, which is now flourishing, and I owe that to my time spent learning from Dyson. The same can be said of my ex-colleagues – we’re a network of designers who are essentially Dyson’s legacy.
One of our clients in Bath is Herman Miller, which would no doubt have benefited from the design school, as would other manufacturers in the South West. At a time when organisations such as Nesta are trying to help the creative industries develop business acumen, the City of Bath should have supported Dyson in his quest to provide a school where design will be taught alongside entrepreneurship. He is said to be looking elsewhere in the South West, so is this stubborn city going to loose out to somewhere like Cheltenham or Bristol, or a beautiful greenfield site that will become a design Mecca?
Bath is a quintessential tourist destination – stuck in its ways, with an aging population fiercely opposed to change. It can’t survive on heritage alone and needs to look to the future, so what better way than to ‘own’ design and innovation, to become the capital for design education and inspire the next generation?
Matt Wright, Founder, Matter, Bath BA1 5DY