News that the International Council for Societies of Industrial Design is staging a World Industrial Design Day on 29 June to commemorate its 50th birthday poses questions on how best to celebrate design in a way that raises public awareness.
Awards play a huge role within the industry in boosting creative standards. Winning them can help to attract the top creative talent to your team and might even carry weight with design-savvy clients. But when it comes to promoting design and its potential to the public and clients at large, it needs something broader in scope.
Can it be done in a day, as ICSID plans? Successful examples include the Open House series, conceived by Victoria Thornton to give people access to and commentary on great buildings they might not normally see. It has expanded over time to cover a weekend, but the formula has worked and is now replicated in open gardens schemes.
More meaningful to design are projects that immerse people in the creative process over time. Take the Designs of the Time initiative. Dott 07 in the North East of England involved local people in various aspects of design. The show-and-tell festival last autumn came across as a culmination of work that is likely to live on, rather than an end in itself.
In the mid-1990s the Design Council, then chaired by Sir John Sorrell, carried out a few stunts that brought design into the public sector. The then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook was persuaded to display great examples of UK design in his office for overseas visitors to see, design minister Baroness Denton installed furniture by emerging designers in her office, we had the Millennium Products show at the Millennium Dome, and a school desk designed by Shin & Tomoko Azumi was trialled in schools.
We can expect something special from ICSID in June, especially now that Tangerine’s London managing director Martin Darbyshire is on the board. But we urge it to make the day the start of something interventionist as it enters its 51st year.