5 important things that happened in design this week

Greenwich design district was revealed, Apple and Google were voted the best global brands and Dyson confirmed it is developing an electric car – the news from the last seven days.

A new London design district was revealed

Concept image of Greenwich’s new design district, due to open in 2020. Image by Uniform

Central London hubs such as Clerkenwell, King’s Cross and Old Street have become known for their thriving creative communities, filled with design studios, advertising agencies and galleries.

This week, it was revealed that a new creative district would open in 2020 in an unassuming and generally forgotten part of the capital – the Greenwich Peninsula.

While the South East London area has seen development in the last decade with the opening of the O2 Arena and Now Gallery, and the relocation of Ravensbourne arts college, Greenwich is still relatively vacant compared to its busy, neighbouring finance district Canary Wharf.

The Greenwich Peninsula design district is part of a £8.4bn, wider regeneration project for the area, which will also see over 15,000 new homes, health services, schools, offices and a new tube station.

It is being undertaken and funded by developer Knight Dragon, and the design district alone will see eight different architectural firms create 16 buildings, and one landscape architect create the outdoor public spaces.

The design of the district aims to be “radical”, with “multiple voices” of different architects weaved in to make the buildings “individually compelling”, says lead architect on the project Peter Besley.

When it opens, the district will offer creatives studio and flexible working spaces, as well as public displays of work and a food market for visitors.

According to Richard Margree, CEO at developer Knight Dragon, the workspaces will aim to be “affordable” for all kinds of artists and designers, with rent starting at £10 per 30cm² per month for a studio.

It remains to be seen what kind of creative worker will be eligible for this low rental price though, and whether these will remain at the same rate or rise incrementally depending on competition for space as the area becomes more popular.

The project is expected to be completed in early 2020, but look out for further details and concept images of the space over the next two years.

A new review looked to create one million creative jobs by 2030

Sir Peter Bazalgette. Courtesy of the Financial Times via Flickr.

The Government has faced fire from the creative industries over the last few years for their lack of investment in arts, culture and creative subjects compared to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Last year’s Industrial Strategy saw prime minister Theresa May focus her efforts on increasing skills in STEM subjects, while Chancellor Philip Hammond’s last Autumn Statement promised £4.7bn towards research and development in science compared to just £10 million towards cultural and heritage projects, only £850,000 of which was intended for cultural education.

At the same time, the number of students taking on art and design at university has dropped dramatically in recent years, with this year’s UCAS figures showing 14,000 fewer students chose creative subjects compared to 2016.

This week, the Independent Review of the Creative Industries was launched, which is calling on the Government to ensure the UK’s creative sector receives more funding, employment and diversity.

Conducted by Sir Peter Bazalgette, the review is based around a sector deal, which would see a new £500 million fund devoted to boosting the creative industries in areas outside of London and the South East.

It would also look to improve copyright and intellectual property (IP) laws, launch an education strategy to teach young people about jobs in the sector, and provide better access to finance for small businesses.

According to Bazalgette, if honoured, the deal could result in one million new creative jobs by 2030, and increase the economic value of the sector to £128bn by 2025.

Read Bazalgette’s report in full here.

Dyson confirmed it was working on an electric car

Sir James Dyson, © Heathcliff O’Malley

Tech giant Dyson officially entered the electric car race this week, as it was revealed it was moving its efforts on from vacuums, hand and hair dryers, and towards the automotive market.

The company will invest £2bn to make the battery-powered electric car a reality, and it is expected to be on the roads by 2020. It will have a 400-strong team working on its design and development.

The move into electric vehicles is part of a push to tackle “the world’s largest single environmental risk” of air pollution, says the company’s founder Sir James Dyson in an open letter to his employees.

Dyson’s new car will incorporate technologies seen in the company’s other products, such as digital motors and energy storage systems used in the Supersonic hair dryer and cord-free vacuums.

The electric car market is already a busy one – Nissan, BMW, Renault and Tesla all currently have models in use, while Jaguar, Porsche, Volkswagen and Mercedes are in development stages.

It will be a test of Dyson’s otherwise-successful brand whether he will be able to compete with established car manufacturers. Richard Seale, lead automotive designer at Seymourpowell, told us this week he thinks Dyson could be a “disruptive new player” in the field and “bring a new way of looking at manufacturing a car”.

The Dyson electric car is expected to launch in 2020.

Pentagram partner Marina Willer told us about “the story that kept her up at night”

Marina Willer, partner at Pentagram

Esteemed graphic designer Marina Willer has this week launched her first feature film, which documents the story of her Jewish father’s escape from Nazi rule during World War Two.

While Willer has worked in film before, Red Trees is the first full-length feature she has directed, running at 90 minutes with screenings available at selected cinemas and festivals.

The touching, personal tale has the artistry you would expect of a graphic designer, with beautiful – and at times grotty – landscape shots combined with poignant commentary.

We spoke to the Pentagram partner exclusively about why she decided to document her father’s escape from the Czech Republic, and how her skills as a graphic designer helped her in the process.

Read our interview in full here.

Apple and Google were found to be the most valuable brands (again)

Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2017 report came out this week, revealing that Apple and Google have topped the charts yet again for the fifth year running.

The report is now in its 18th year, and ranks the top 100 global brands based on how “valuable” they are to consumers.

This is judged on three factors; financial performance, how successfully it influences customer choice and its ability to secure future earnings for the company.

Perhaps more interesting than Apple and Google’s inevitable win, is that Apple rival Microsoft has jumped up to third spot, reporting a 10% increase in brand value since 2016.

This comes after the tech company launched its Surface Laptop earlier this year, which has a touch screen.

Other brands that did well this year include Facebook, Amazon, Adobe, Adidas and Starbucks, with half of the top 10 brands being tech companies.

New entrants to this year’s top 100 include Netflix, Salesforce.com and Ferrari.

Read Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2017 report in full here.


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