The year 2007 is about designers in the South West stepping up to the mark and expanding the opportunity for themselves. Regional networks play a very important part in enabling designers to achieve this goal.
In the South West, 85 per cent of designers work on their own. By getting together with their peers they can exchange ideas, share knowledge and get help with issues others have already faced.
I am afraid that most of the central organisations that are supposed to represent designers and the industry (there are notable exceptions) have little relevance to our region – they withdrew long ago. They need to deliver and engage more. Meanwhile, the South West, through its own efforts, is becoming extremely active, with high ambitions for the future.
Regional design initiatives? We need more of the same really. More design bodies engaging with each other, business and education. We also need more networking events across the region, lectures and talks from people across a range of disciplines, sectors and interest groups, as well as more engagement with education and incubator projects and professional development.
Effective regional Government really does recognise that design can make a difference to economic, social and cultural well-being. More flexible ways to nurture it would be good.
Roger Proctor, Partner, Proctor & Stevenson, Bristol
BS2 8RU, and West of England Design Forum