Design industry backs plan for UK design centre

Soundings taken among senior design industry players suggest there would be little opposition to any Government plans to back the building of a UK design centre, Design Week can reveal.

With the findings of the Cox Review due to be published in two weeks’ time, there has been mounting expectation that the report will make a strong economic case for the creation of a British design and innovation centre to bolster design as a key tool for future wealth creation.

While the announcement of such a scheme is likely to be broadly welcomed from all quarters of the industry, the location of such a centre now appears to be much less of a political hot potato than was first expected.

Until now, it has been uncertain how a UK design centre might fit alongside existing venues, such as Scotland’s national centre The Lighthouse, the Design Museum in London and the new design centre planned for Newcastle – particularly if, as anticipated, London were put forward as its home (DW 27 October).

However, a number of key industry figures, including Lighthouse director Stuart MacDonald and Design Museum founder Terence Conran, feel there is room for a newly-built UK design centre (see Voxpop, page 11).

‘There ought to be a UK centre,’ suggests MacDonald. ‘But it must not be a re-invention of the old design centres,’ rather a ‘world model of design entrepreneurship,’ he says.

Conran, who has long been campaigning for design to be represented in the way the art world is by the Tate Modern, envisages a UK design centre which ‘would become the world centre for design and creativity’ and suggests that the work of the Design Museum could be expanded.

Though London, with its recently-acquired Olympic status, is tipped as favourite to host such a UK centre, the proposal does not appear to preclude the Newcastle scheme from simultaneously going ahead.

This would tie in with Design Council efforts to enable support outside of London, as well as its awaited proposals for a ten-year rolling programme of biennial design events hosted by the regions (DW 20 October).

Such regional initiatives are also seeing the creation of increasing numbers of regional design hubs, such as Group Hub, formed in Lancashire just two weeks ago, and the Cornwall Design Forum, set up by regional design groups last year.

The Cox Report

• Follows extensive consultation with industry organisations on how the creative industries and in-house teams can be better used to support British industry

• Likely to become the basis for new policy initiatives in the Chancellor Gordon Brown’s Pre-Budget speech

• Report will be published on 17 November

• Designed by Sea Design

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