Cabe appointment echoes opportunities in design

It’s great to hear that Paul Finch is to take over as chairman of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment when Sir John Sorrell steps down in December.

Practitioners in architecture and urban design need a staunch champion with Prince Charles once more wielding his personal influence over public taste.

Finch brings with him a vast knowledge of architecture and attendant disciplines accrued over many years as a journalist on planning and architecture titles. He has been editor of Building Design, Architects’ Journal and most recently Architectural Review – all prestigious titles – and is an activist within the profession.

What is important for Cabe is that Finch is not an architect, and so has no professional axe to grind. Being a commentator gives him a rounded view and access to key people in all aspects of building design.

He is not the only journalist to hold important office in the creative industries. Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic; Professor Jeremy Myerson, director of the Royal College of Art’s Helen Hamlyn Centre; and Peter Murray, founder of the London Festival of Architecture, among other things, all started on publications.

They show that journalism can be a gateway to far higher things than, say, copywriting and PR, just as design experience can open doors that aren’t just in consultancy or in brand management. Sorrell himself bears testimony to that.

Of course, such opportunities don’t occur as you step out of college, as this year’s graduates will attest. But they are there to aspire to or, in the case of entrepreneurs like Sorrell, to create. Positions of influence also exist on the client side – take Tim Molloy’s standing as head of design at the Science Museum or Jonathan Ive at Apple – though they are arguably best held by designers with consultancy experience. It is all to go for.

Congratulations to Finch. We hope he, like Sorrell, will use his time at Cabe well, and hopefully bring design and architecture more closely together.

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