New landscape represents major opportunity for design

Things are looking good for design as the new Government settles in. With design stalwart Gordon Brown as Prime Minister it is likely to gain momentum, especially now the creative industries are deemed as important to the UK’s GDP as the financial services sector.

The demise of the Department of Trade and Industry – traditionally the source of official design funding – had been anticipated. We don’t yet know who the Design Council’s new paymaster will be, but the creation of two departments – Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform; and Innovation, Universities and Skills – spreads design’s interests across the Civil Service.

The masterstroke for design is the appointment of James Purnell as Culture Secretary. As Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport before the reshuffle in May 2006, his passion for design was patent. His commitment put him in Design Week’s 2005 Hot 50 of unlikely design activists.

Meanwhile, it’s all change in the industry. Nick Ramshaw’s accession to the Design Business Association presidency should help the regions and brings another businessman on to the industry’s front line. He will need to win the hearts and minds of the creative community though, given his view that the media rather than the lacklustre design were to blame for the furore over BR&Me’s packs for Foster’s, Grand Prix winner in this year’s DBA Design Effectiveness Awards (see Profile, page 13), but he is well regarded by Elmwood’s award-winning creative team.

That just leaves D&AD without a chief executive following the departure of Michael Hockney in March. Chairman Anthony Simonds-Gooding is due to trawl for a successor now its Congress is over and we can only hope for a design champion. But, with Simon Waterfall becoming president in September, design will be well represented.

These changes are timely for design, given the general upturn in fortune. We need to do all we can though to keep it high on the agenda of the new ‘official’ players.




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