What we’d like to see from design in 2015

As the new year stretches ahead of us, here are the five things Design Week would like to see happen in the design world over the next 12 months.

Interiors of PriestmanGoode's new Tube train designs

Interiors of PriestmanGoode’s new Tube train designs

A public sector design project we can all get behind

With the Government Digital Service’s award-winning Gov.uk project firmly embedded, the field is now open for a new breakthrough public sector design project.

One of the many remarkable things about Gov.uk was that its design team explicitly placed the project in the long-line of Great British public sector designs. GDS head of design Ben Terrett has referenced projects such as Sir Kenneth Grange’s Intercity 125 design and even brought in road signage designer Margaret Calvert to be an “unofficial mentor” for Gov.uk.

Rather fittingly, it could well be the transport sector that presents the next great public design project, with Barber & Osgerby currently working on designs for the fleet of Crossrail trains, set to go into service in 2017, and PriestmanGoode working on new Tube train designs “inspired by contemporary London” – although these won’t take to the tracks until 2020.

One of Richard Turley's cover designs for Bloomberg Businessweek

One of Richard Turley’s cover designs for Bloomberg Businessweek

British designers continuing to make waves abroad

UK design talent has been one of the country’s most notable exports in recent years. Of course there’s Sir Jony Ive at Apple and other notable figures include Coca-Colas’s global design chief James Sommerville and Richard Turley, senior vice-president of visual storytelling at MTV in New York and formerly creative director at Bloomberg Businessweek.

And the trend is continuing – those to watch in 2015 include Ben Stott, previously a co-founder at NB Studio and now a creative director for Apple in California, and Matt Willey, who after working on the award-winning Independent redesign last year, is now helping the New York Times magazine with its planned redesign, set to launch later this year.

Asif Khan's Megafaces Pavilion at the Sochi Olympics

Asif Khan’s Megafaces Pavilion at the Sochi Olympics

The next Thomas Heatherwick

For several years now Thomas Heatherwick has deservedly been the brightest star in the UK design scene and one of our best-known designers abroad. Heatherwick’s not going anywhere of course, not least with construction on his Garden Bridge project set to start this year, but perhaps 2015 could be the year when we see a new rising British design star achieve international acclaim.

Among the candidates are Asif Khan, whose MegaFaces Pavilion for the Sochi Winter Olympics won the Grand Prix for Innovation at the last Cannes Lions. Khan’s studio is among one of six studios shortlisted late last year in the competition to design the new Helsinki Guggenheim – from 1,715 submissions. Its also in the running to work on the huge new “Olympicopolis” cultural and education quarter at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

There’s also Paul Cocksedge, whose projects range from innovative projects such as the Double O bike light and the ingenious Vamp speaker, to installations and interiors for clients around the world. Shortlisted for the UK Pavilion at this year’s Milan Expo (although missing out to Wolfgang Buttress) Cocksedge is surely close to a major breakthrough project.


Source: Paolo Ferrarini

A reinvigorated education system

It’s become the norm now for British design education to be on the receiving end of criticism from the design industry and this can sometimes mask the great work that is being done in this sector.

In higher education over the past few years we’ve seen several major institutions aim to reinvent themselves to offer better and more appropriate teaching, from Central Saint Martins’ ambitious move to London’s Kings Cross to Manchester School of Art’s reinvigoration and move to its new home under professor David Crow. Meanwhile at the Royal College of Art, Neville Brody continues to investigate new contexts for how design should be taught and how a design school should operate.

At school level meanwhile, design and art teachers are continuing to battle an often challenging situation, fighting issues such as lack of resources and claims that the subject of design is undervalued by colleagues and headteachers. Even here though there have been victories – with Design & Technology remaining part of the National Curriculum following strong lobbying and new D&T curriculum that commentators including the D&T Association say puts design teaching in a more real-world context.

A Government that fully recognises the power of design

Ah, we can but dream I suppose… However, in recent months a rather unexpected champion for the creative industries has emerged in senior Government – Chancellor George Osborne.

Perhaps Osborne’s affinity for the creative industries shouldn’t be that unexpected – his father co-founded textile design firm Osborne & Little and his grandmother was the artist Clarisse Loxton Peacock.

Recently though, Osborne has seemingly been making a real effort to engage the creative sector – from announcing a VAT rebate for the Design Museum that will allow it to open the doors of its new Kensington home for free, to speaking a the launch of the newly-formed Creative Industries Federation.

Of course there’s a huge difference between paying lip service to the creative industries and constructively helping them – and Osborne himself says “It’s a very diverse sector with diverse issues – there isn’t a single instrument you can use to tackle them.” Let’s hope though that whoever takes power following May’s General Election, they will continue to praise – and start to properly support – the UK’s design industry.

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  • Andrew Penaluna November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Design seems to so often be the poor relation… yet is central so so many approaches. For example, great emphasis is being put upon HE and schools to develop more entrepreneurial people through their learning. Design education and pedagogies can really help here – but from our own review for Government, they are being strangled!

    (All Party Parliamentary Group for Micro Businesses (2014) “An Education System fit for an Entrepreneur”

  • Jim Batty November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Public sector and Government recognition of the importance of design?

    From my experience in attempting to design for heavily striated, top-down and variously politicised public sector organisations, as well as through a public sector focused management consultancy, we are likely to see pigs flying in silhouette against a blue moon before design is understood as practically useful — let alone essential — in conveying important messages and services to the public.

    Jaded, moi?

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