pointers for the new Design Council chief

What better way to kick off the new year than with news that that all-important Design Council slot has at last been filled – and by someone seemingly with a head for business. In-coming chief executive Andrew Summers has a hard task ahead if the promises prominently displayed in the council’s new slogan-style identity are to be fulfilled – and, however much Design Council bigwigs insist of their independence, it is he and his new team who must now deliver the goods to their Government paymasters.

A daunting prospect, maybe. But one of the toughest jobs facing Summers is that of regaining the confidence of the design community in a quango that before John Sorrell’s accession to the chairmanship had long ceased to have any relevance for most design folk. If design is to play the part it should in the exchange the council has pledged to maintain between itself, industry and Government, then much has to be done.

We have little inkling yet of Summers’ management style, but we suggest a raft of actions that wouldn’t go amiss as he enters the honeymoon period:

Waste no more time in filling the three vacant directorships. Until the team is aboard, no strategies can really be evolved, and we’d welcome a bit of personality in a body that apart from the ever-present Sorrell is so faceless.

Steer clear of showbiz stunts and find more meaningful ways to get design back on to the national media’s agenda. Photos of the garrish waiters’ outfits at the council’s relaunch last month might have found their way into the Financial Times, but is this really the message about design we want put across to the City?

Insist that the Government appointees who will dole out design advice via the Business Links are of the highest calibre. What’s the point in offering any help at all if the person giving it is merely a database operator?

Temper these three with an emphasis on the delight design can offer as well as hard facts about its effectiveness and you just might be getting somewhere.

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