Designers should look beyond the millennium

Interest in design industry bodies has dwindled over the past few months as consultancies have become frantically busy with pre-millennial work. Even the inadequacies of the Chartered Society of Designers have ceased to be a debating point. Nobody appears to care about what goes on behind those tightly shut doors: those who did have already made their point by not renewing their subscription.

The fmcg branding style of the Design Business Association’s new identity by Coley Porter Bell has, meanwhile, met with a resounding silence from designers, amid reports from sources close to the DBA that it really isn’t working. “I ought to care,” one leading designer told me the other day. “But I haven’t got the time.”

One issue we ought to care about passionately though is the Design Council succession. Who will take the helm from John Sorrell when he steps down in December?

Fostering the design business isn’t strictly within the council’s remit. Its job is to act as a catalyst between the Government, industry and design. The council has a way to go still to fulfil its mission. But what other organisation has done as much over the six years since Sorrell’s enlightened blueprint for the new-look council was put in place to support design industry initiatives – through cash or direct involvement, or by providing a venue for events?

It’s vital that the incoming chairman has design in his or her heart, and carries on the good work, particularly in influencing Civil Service design-buying practice. That person must also get the design message across far more potently to UK business.

Who is best equipped to do that? While the Department of Trade and Industry considers the options, we invite your votes on the following:

Stephen Bayley – odds 1000-1 for a blunt speaker who prides himself on approaching people via their nostrils;

Trevor Baylis – odds 200-1 for a loquacious inventor keen to have a One2One with anyone who’ll listen;

Martin Sorrell – odds 5-1 for a numbers man who can prove, through his personal fortune, that creativity pays;

Wally Olins – odds 2-1 for a man who understands corporate and national identity better than most, having helped build the UK’s service culture;

Vivienne Westwood – odds 100-1 for a woman of such style she probably wouldn’t want the job.

Cast your votes now, by postcard or e-mail to Or, better still, use your imagination and name your own candidate.

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