Keep British design credibility alive

Michael Hockney is stating what many members of the design community are debating, less politely, in the pub (Letters, DW 13 July).

British Design Innovation would concur that British design continues to thrive and gain value among clients. There are some issues that would benefit from strengthening, such as intellectual property fees and growing international competition. But British design is not on its knees and however well intended the Keep British Design Alive campaign is, it is a negative message that may only serve to elicit a negative response. The original Redesign the Design Industry strapline sounded more purposeful.

The brief issued to consultancies focused on three things: design in education, design in the workplace and design leadership. Subject to ‘consultation’, it proposed that it should be underpinned by a professional accreditation system.

The Keep British Design Alive campaign appears to favour ‘accreditation’, but, in March, the Chartered Society of Designers, through the Design Association, launched an accreditation system. The Design Business Association recently announced an intention to accredit new and existing members. The Design Council National Design Programme calls for an accreditation of consultancies through a proposed limited company.

None of these accreditation schemes have any relation to each other, but may compete head to head – potentially leaving the design industry in a more confused state than ever before. And yet all of these organisations sit on the Design Skills Advisory Panel, whose ambition it is to ‘professionalise the design industry’.

If the result of the use of public sector funds to support all this activity is four competing accreditation systems, come 2007, and a new commercial entity launched by the Design Council, which will compete head to head with existing membership organisations, it will only serve to weaken the design industry, not strengthen it.

Maxine J Horn, Chief executive, British Design Innovation

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