London was in the throes of anti-capitalist demonstrations as Design Week went to press. What difference could the design industry have made – whether in terms of crowd management and safety, security devices, promoting the considerate face of capitalism or, even, preventing the demo?

‘I don’t believe the design industry can do anything about anarchist demonstrations. The whole point about anarchists is that they are unpredictable and anarchic. But design could certainly improve the look and feel of our inner cities, and – as the Design Council’s recent initiative has shown – contribute effectively to the fight against crime. As to design’s role in promoting the considerate face of global capitalism, well, if that just means ‘branding’, it is – from the point of view of the demonstrators – part of the problem rather than the solution. I hope design’s role goes deeper than that.’

Sir Christopher Frayling, Rector and Vice-Provost, Royal College of Art, and Chairman, Design Council

‘It would be wonderful to believe that brand communication could stop this sort of nihilism. But the demonstrators want to present all global branded business as evil – as silly as saying all promotion is wrong. Safe sex campaigns are sinful? Charity promotion should be stopped? The vast majority of global companies are ethical and caring and have policies to prove it. They need better awareness of those policies. That’s our job.’

Fiona Gilmore, Director, Springpoint

‘What design can do is get under the skin of what these post-Seattle shockwaves are all about and understand the underlying issues. I think it’s fair to say that we all spend more time and effort applying an acceptable veneer of respectability over some of these corporations than we do finding ways to humanise them. Let’s get political’

Richard Seymour, Director, Seymour Powell

‘People go to demonstrations because they’re angry – and they’re angry because they feel they haven’t been told the whole story. Big corporations must learn to answer to the public and not just the shareholders. As designers, we must resist the urge to decorate and gloss. If we are brave enough to challenge our clients about issues, we can then concentrate on creative ways of making the truth interesting and accessible to all.’

Franco Bonadio, Creative Director, C21

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