Porritt damns ‘client dependency syndrome’

Chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission Sir Jonathon Porritt has told the design industry it must cure itself of ‘client dependency syndrome’ if it is to further sustainable design.

Porritt urged delegates at the Designers’ Breakfast event last Thursday, ‘I am asking you to free yourself of your dependence on clients so that you can deliver quality and value in a sustainable way.’

Sophie Thomas, director of design consultancy Thomas Matthews, suggested designers should be willing to take the initiative with clients. ‘You don’t always need to tell clients what you are doing – you can just go ahead and do it,’ she said.

Abrahams founder Michael Abrahams said designers could escape over-dependency on their clients by creating joint ventures with small- and medium-sized enterprises. ‘The future is about micro-businesses working together. With several of our clients, we share in the success or failure of our designs, meaning if our work results in sales growth for them, we take a cut,’ he said.

Porritt singled out corporate giants Marks & Spencer and Nike for praise. ‘M&S is ahead of the curve on sustainability issues. Although its packaging has received heavy criticism, it is now asking its packaging design consultancies to solve this problem. Similarly, Nike is taking a lead on the reuse of materials and the elimination of toxic chemicals from its products,’ he said.

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