Designers must grasp the promise of a digital future

There is a huge appetite for all things digital in design, at present. Where once digital judges on the Design Week Awards had to battle for the attention of those from other disciplines, for the past couple of years digital projects have scored very highly.

Meanwhile, D&AD this year gave a coveted Black Pencil to a digital contender and, in September, Simon Waterfall of Poke will be the first digital designer to become D&AD president. It’s a while since Malcolm Garrett became the first digital Royal Designer for Industry, but Waterfall’s election at D&AD marks a pinnacle of success in creative circles for himself and his peers.

On the business front, digital design is hot news, with pundits urging design groups to buy into it to meet clients’ escalating demands for on-line work. It may be shocking to hear that ad agency St Luke’s is closing The Nest, but no surprise that it is investing in a digital group instead (DW 5 July).

And then there is the ‘digital day’ to be staged by Dynamo London on 18 September as part of the London Design Festival. Supported by the London Development Agency, the seminar will address digital issues that extend way beyond websites.

This is all good stuff. But the design community seems slow to grasp innovations that will shape the future. If a client expects it, most consultancy bosses make sure digital design is in their offer, in some way, but few, particularly in graphics, rate on-line communications on a par with print.

We encounter this every day on DW. Many groups are eager to share their news with the readership, but prefer to see that news appear in the weekly magazine than on the website, though its reach is much broader.

This reticence about new methods of delivery will change as we attune to the digital age. Look how far we’ve already travelled in relatively few years. But to leverage the opportunities, designers need to stay ahead of the pack. Get to grips with the potential of digital now or risk missing the boat.

Lynda Relph-Knight, Editor

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