Trevail’s resignation is fuel for large vs small debate

It is ironic that Charles Trevail should decide to quit FutureBrand (see News) just as The Packaging Solutions Advice Group publishes the proceedings of its last debate.

Trevail spoke so convincingly against the motion, ‘This house believes creative value comes in small packages’, at the PSAG debate on 5 June, that his side won in a debate prompted by his earlier pieces in Design Week arguing the case for big groups. Perhaps he didn’t convince himself sufficiently well to stay at the European helm of Interpublic Group’s global design empire, as sources suggest he is now planning a smaller venture, albeit transatlantic in scope.

In some ways it is not surprising to see Trevail jump ship. Life has been pretty tough at the top for anyone running a big branding business and he isn’t the first one to choose another way.

Also within FutureBrand, we’ve seen David Davies and Stuart Baron form David Davies 517 (DW 19 June); Trevail’s mentor, former New York-based FutureBrand chairman and chief executive John Elkins meanwhile quit in April to become head of global brand and marketing at Visa International. Similar examples abound across the industry, former Interbrand creative director Marksteen Adamson and Enterprise Brand Experience head John Harrison among them.

Such moves are good for design. They are creating a new layer of groups with huge experience, but with the fresh energy of a start-up and a scaled-down operation appropriate to the task.

In some cases, it means a new way of working. British designer Helen Keyes, former creative director of Enterprise IG’s defunct New York office, is, for example, collaborating with former colleagues through her new US company Blue Ink Co rather than employing them. They are discovering that clients are seeking them out because reputation resides as much in the individual as in their former consultancy and old relationships remain intact. That’s worth remembering whether you’re in a job or not.

RCA show shines

Anyone straying into this week’s Royal College of Art show may think they were at an art event or on a Tomorrow’s World set. The textiles and interactive design work – the best exhibits this year – are so far beyond the mere creation of objects that they cannot fail to impress.

There is an interest in process, materials and science, tempered by interactive design graduates with a concern for social and environmental issues. It’s a very welcome development, making the show well worth a visit, if only for these two courses.

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