Cornwall Design Forum puts county on the map

A collective of Cornish design consultancies is seeking to form a trade association to promote the work of the county’s design practitioners, both inside and outside Cornwall.

Last week it held the inaugural Cornwall Design Forum in Porthtowan. Speakers included Frances Sorrell, founder of the former Newell and Sorrell (now Interbrand); Professor Alan Livingston, principal of Falmouth College of Arts and Timothy Guy of Timothy Guy Design.

CDF is aiming to provide support for the region’s design sector and plans to become a subscription association next year. It also hopes to launch an awards ceremony in the summer, according to Helen Blake, forum chairman and managing director of Falmouth group Absolute Design.

‘We got together to create a bigger entity that can speak for everyone. The design industry down here is really growing, but consultancies still find it very difficult to get on national tenders,’ Blake explains.

The forum will provide contact and support for designers working across graphics, product/3D, furniture design, digital media, interiors, architecture and landscape. Collectively, Cornwall’s creative industries (of which design is a component) are worth more than £250m a year, according to the Cultural Industries Task Force.

CDF will also promote the value of design to local businesses, providing information to help them source and choose suitable consultancies.

The forum developed from an invitation to a group of designers from Creative Kernow, a company tasked with developing the region’s creative industries. This group was asked to put together the strategy for a design action plan.

‘We found it really beneficial to discuss issues that are unique to Cornwall [and] realised there is a huge opportunity for us to champion design here,’ says Blake.

Howard Miles, design director at Timothy Guy Design, says the forum will adopt a quality benchmarking process for the selection of its members. ‘We have to have certain quality standards or the forum doesn’t stand for anything,’ he says.

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