5 important things that happened in design this week

A look at the challenges women face in the design industry, a global store redesign for Apple and the creative industries lobbying Government – the important design news from the last seven days.

Apple revealed it would redesign all of its stores

Apple is heading towards a more holistic shop style, as it announced this week it would redesign all of its 495 global stores to turn them into working and gathering spaces.

The design is a roll out of an existing shop space in Apple’s San Francisco store, which launched in May last year and essentially serves as a 24-hour public space as well as a regular retail store.

It also features education programme Today at Apple, which brings developers, entrepreneurs, artists, photographers and other professionals in to offer training and tutoring sessions.

While it is not confirmed whether all of Apple’s global stores will become accessible 24 hours a day, they will all feature the Today at Apple programme, offering free, advice-based workshops to customers across graphic design, coding, photography, music-making and more.

The roll out is a step towards a more experiential store experience, moving beyond giving customers the chance to try and test products by also letting them learn about concepts and skills beyond the Apple brand. Angela Ahrendts, vice president of retail at Apple, says behind the concept is “the desire to educate and inspire the communities we serve.”

We looked at the challenges female designers face in career progression

Pay rise and promotion challenges for women are not specific to the design industry. Across many professions, everything from maternity leave to lack of standardised pay scales can make it tricky for women to receive the job or pay they deserve.

But this week, columnist Nat Maher looked at how this is prolific in design. The Kerning the Gap founder – an organisation which strives for gender equality in the design industry – looked at the phenomenon that while more women are studying design at university, far fewer end up becoming creative directors or business leaders – 11%, to be precise.

Maher also highlighted that, for those women who are business leaders, they do not receive as much exposure as their male counterparts. A simple Google search of “famous graphic designers” revealed to her that only five out of the 50 people thrown out by the search engine were women.

She advised that men need to join the debate, and work with women to increase diversity in their teams, alongside increasing mentoring to get more women shouting out about their jobs.

Read Maher’s piece in full here.

The creative industries lobbied politicians to consider the impact of the arts

© Tony Baggett

Prime minister Theresa May shocked the public and shadow cabinet last week, when she u-turned and announced she would be holding a snap general election in June.

The move looks likely to secure the Conservatives’ place in Government while they are ahead in the polls, and so secure May’s Brexit plan.

In response to the announcement, industry body the Creative Industries Federation released an election manifesto this week, which asks political parties to consider several points in the lead-up to the election.

The 10-point list of demands centres around prioritising EU citizens working in the creative industries when issuing visas, providing more funding for small businesses, retaining intellectual property rights and placing greater emphasis on creative education.

The body has urged the current Government, and all other political parties, to remember the positive impact of the creative industries, which currently generate £87bn for the UK economy, advising that they do not take this asset “for granted”.

Read the Creative Industries Federation’s election manifesto in full here.

Plymouth College of Art scorned the closing of foundation courses

Plymouth College of Art, Palace Court

With the Conservative Government’s focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects in recent years, funding for creative education has fallen behind, with institutions such as University of the Arts London (UAL) and Goldsmiths being hit by cuts.

These funding slashes have inevitably led to the closure of many universities’ foundation diploma in art and design; a year-long course that is often either low-fee or free, and gives students a taste of different art and design disciplines before going on to specialise with an undergraduate degree.

Falmouth University cut its course last year with director of communications Robert Hillier confirming that it was closed because it was “expensive to run”.

This week, Plymouth College of Art revealed it was dedicating a new building to its existing foundation course, and associate dean Matias Shortcook spoke to us about the detrimental effects of cutting these courses across the country.

“Without foundation courses, you’ll get a set of very dogmatic, simplistic investigations into the world – and design isn’t that,” he said.

“Design needs variety, multiplicity and excitement,” he continued. “To chart a simplistic educational course from GCSEs to A-Levels straight into a degree does not give the richness that many students benefit from.”

The Huffington Post “listened” to readers and rebranded as HuffPost

In this era of fake news, it has never been more important for established news sources to build up trust with their readers and prove their legitimacy.

With this reason in mind, online-only news site The Huffington Post rebranded as the shorter, snappier HuffPost this week; the title which the publication’s readers “have called [the publication] for years”, according to editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen.

The new name comes with a blockier, less formal typeface, which is bookended with two green symbols that aim to mimic forward-slash symbols, relating to the brand’s history as being online-only.

Along with the rebrand is an update to the publication’s site design, which will see content displayed more visually through images and videos, and will also alert readers to the most important and popular stories of the day.

The aim is to build up a stronger relationship with the site’s audience “when trust in news is at an historic low”, says Polgreen.

But the success of the rebrand remains to be seen, and will depend on whether readers find the new site easier to use or not. Regardless of rebranding with a friendlier name, user experience and quality of content will be the defining factor in readers’ opinions.

Got a design story? Get in touch sarah.dawood@centaurmedia.com.

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