I would like to respond to letters from DW readers about the Halifax Initiative, in particular those who feel that the Chartered Society of Designers has failed by not attending the Halifax conference.
As the Design Business Association founding chairman, and past president of the CSD, I have a deep interest in the future of the UK design industry. Those who feel that there is some sort of turmoil which can only be resolved by forming one new “club” are mistaken.
There have been past occasions when representative bodies within design have got together to form a unified voice. The Design Forum, for example, petered out because each of the representative bodies had different responsibilities specific to its members. The fact that we have these separate bodies is not in any sense a failure – it is our greatest success.
Can the representation of design be improved? I’m sure it can, but the Halifax Initiative was not best organised to allow this to happen. It was so hurried that the CSD could not contribute to its pre-planning. The CSD Council knew nothing about the conference until it was happening.
The pre-conference questionnaire failed to open the subject in the widest sense. CSD members who don’t read DW didn’t know anything about the Initiative at all.
Our industry needs to create fresh dialogue on the representation issue – a round table to be attended by the various representative bodies as equal partners in the initiative. It does not need outside consultants or large budgets. It does not have to work to artificial deadlines. It should recognise our present strengths and successes and build on them.
Stefan Zachary was not at Halifax, though invited. CSD members who were will tell him how stimulating it was, focused on design representation. The CSD was part of the review team from the start, with then president Nick Jenkins – and sometimes CSD honorary secretary Alan Topalian – attending meetings. Like the DBA, it had chance to vet the questionnaire and to circulate it to its members.