Good creatives must try to design better clients

‘Just say no’: the argument against free-pitching was well put by Jim Davies. Even when paid for, the pitch process tends to be ‘hands- off’: designers don’t get the insights that come from meeting clients, getting a feel for their organisations and asking the right questions.

My contact with clients which offer free-pitches has often revealed fear that anything else wouldn’t give them a basis for decision-making or a misguided sense of best value. Underneath this is a perception of design being something that’s stuck on and of designers as suppliers rather than trusted professional support.

We can go along with tendering processes that can’t tell the difference between buying design consultancy and paper towels – or we can change them. The official design bodies could do much to promote good practice in commissioning.

It’s also up to the design industry as a whole not only to refuse to engage in processes that are counter-productive, but to help create better clients. Good design needs them.

Lydia Thornley

Design consultant

London EC2

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