Does the industry require yet another association?

What constitutes a launch? Last week the Chartered Society of Designers celebrated the ‘launch’ of the Design Association, yet last spring Design Week reported exactly the same thing (DW 21 April 2005) and the association’s name has appeared alongside the CSD on communications ever since.

I wasn’t at this latest event, but it has caused confusion among those who were. Some readers ask what it’s all about. Others, meanwhile, are angered by the addition of yet another official body to an already crowded market.

There is concern that, in setting up a ‘business’ arm, the CSD is trying to repeat history. The Design Business Association, which handles business and training aspects (while the CSD is traditionally concerned with maintaining the quality of work produced by its members) was born of the CSD 20 years ago and does a good complementary job (see Letters, page 11).

So what is the Design Association? Last year it was described as ‘a membership body for consultancies’. Now, though, it is defined as ‘the first worldwide accreditation scheme for design consultancies and in-house design teams’.

Accreditation, in this instance, centres on having professional indemnity insurance and other ‘good practice’ assets – something the CSD has always offered guidance on with the help of an approved list of providers. Now it appears to have launched the Design Association offer with one insurance company partner, Hiscox.

This has little to do with standards of creativity – of which D&AD is arguably a stronger guardian. And why go for consultancies when individual designers make up the CSD’s members?

The business needs of individuals could be better catered for, but is the CSD – and its Design Association – the best place? Might it not be better for the CSD to join forces with the DBA on this? The DBA could usefully boost its membership, while CSD members would benefit from the 20 years’ of business expertise it has built up. What’s wrong with that?

Lynda Relph-Knight, editor

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