Hewlett as Designer of the Year won’t please everyone

Terence Conran is unlikely to be happy at the Design Museum’s choice of Jamie Hewlett as Designer of the Year. Hewlett’s virtual band Gorillaz is a far cry from the furniture and lighting for which shortlisted Tom Dixon is best known, and which Conran is more likely to believe fits the museum’s ethic.

So the legacy of former museum director Alice Rawsthorn lives on. Her eclecticism was her downfall and it will be fascinating to see how Designer of the Year progresses under the regime of new director Deyan Sudjic.

Sudjic is renowned for his knowledge of architecture and 3D. While director of Glasgow’s 1999 City of Architecture and Design team, and now as design dean at Kingston University, he has been exposed to design in all its forms. But are his interests as broad as Rawsthorn’s?

Hewlett is crowned in the week D&AD celebrates what it deems to be the cream of international advertising and design. Ironically, while the Design Museum was once the bastion of good Modernist taste and D&AD honoured the avant garde, there has been a bit of role reversal, with D&AD becoming a tad predictable, particularly on the product side, where Apple Computer can apparently do no wrong.

Jonathan Ive’s team have had more success at D&AD than any other design player, while he added the President’s Award to his extensive collection of honours last year. Will Apple score again this year? It’s a safe bet, but will it be Gold or Silver?

One striking thing about the D&AD shortlist is the number of publishing contenders. The creative health of the sector is evidenced by the appearance of Mark Porter of The Guardian on both the Design Museum and D&AD shortlists. Porter didn’t win Designer of the Year – perhaps publishing is too mundane for the museum. But taking a design icon and adapting it elegantly for commercial needs merits recognition.

Let’s hope it comes at D&AD. A pencil is, after all, a fitting reward for the scribes who fill the pages of Porter’s redesign.

Lynda Relph-Knight, editor

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