Don’t shy away from promoting our creativity

The age old debate about creativity rages on. It fuels the size arguments – are small consultancies more likely to produce great creative work than large ones? – and it is the cause behind which independent groups rally as they compete against their ‘owned’ peers.

It is also the biggest reason, next to redundancy, behind breakaways from some big industry players by senior people jaded by the pressures to perform financially while the quality of the consultancy’s creative output appeared to take second place. Last week we profiled Dave, the high-powered breakaway from Omnicom-owned Wolff Olins, and reported that Adrian Caddy is leaving independent group Imagination – no shirker on the creative front – to pursue other creative interests (DW 16 October). Earlier this year we saw 1990s superstars David Davies and Stuart Baron re-emerge as Davies & Baron, having extracted themselves from Interpublic Group branding flagship FutureBrand.

In most cases, the leavers are designers, who want control over the work they take on and the way design is manifested in it. The concerns are often with visual creativity rather than strategic thinking because the visual aspect has been sidelined by cash-hungry owners.

But there’s a new energy abroad in the industry for tackling what are seen as falling creative standards. This time it’s not coming from the likes of British Design & Art Direction, for which boosting creative standards is a fundamental principle, but from the grassroots.

At an industry dinner in London last week, fashion and textiles designer Zandra Rhodes expressed her surprise that designers from other disciplines don’t broadcast their talents in the public arena in the way that fashion designers do. They have no less talent, she maintains, but lack confidence. Sniez Torbarina of Jestico & Whiles, who was at the dinner, is among those who have contacted us to give their views (see Letters, page 11) and we welcome other contributions.

Design Bridge executive creative director Rod Petrie meanwhile shares his opinion that love for design is in short supply these days (see Private View, page 10). This passion needs to be rekindled, he reckons, and he is right. But how do we do this?

Perhaps the London Design Festival, geared to promoting UK talent to overseas visitors, should be twinned with a more introverted get-together to inspire the creative community in the way Cape Town’s annual Design Indaba creative fest has done for South African designers and London’s Frieze is doing for art. It could even parade great commercial design to the public in the way fashion does through catwalk shows. What do you think? E-mail me at

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