Design industry representation: we need less talk, more action

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Design Week’s report (20 February) on the problems being faced by the Creative Industries taskforce is yet another example of how fragmented and non-collaborative our profession, particularly the bodies representing it, have become.

Why are the Design Business Association and the Chartered Society of Designers standing back waiting for that call? Should they not be leaping into action – volunteering their qualified assistance and industry information to the Creative Industries taskforce?

Simon Mottram rightly states that it is incredibly hard to quantify the value of design – which is the problem the design profession has always suffered from. But if research was specifically carried out to value design above the emotional and psychological factors, the profession and its representative bodies would have a stronger business case to argue.

Spectrum Strategy Consultants has “volunteered” its help even though it is not, by its own admission, qualified for the task of analysing the value of the design industry. The article suggests that it is not being paid, which may be why it appears not to be digging too deep. If it was, it would very quickly unearth design statistics that have been so well publicised over recent months it has been almost impossible to miss them.

The UK design industry is worth 12bn per annum, the export consultancy fee figure is estimated at 358m and the profession accounts for around 300 000 jobs. All figures are easily available, certainly from the Design Council and almost certainly from the DBA or CSD.

So why has a non-design specialist had to volunteer its help to analyse the worth of design, when we have a Design Council which (should) have up-to-date facts and figures – or should be expected to use a proportion of its annual budget to research the market and provide the figures to Government. Is that not part of its remit?

Or is it the DBA’s job or the CSD’s? Oh no, I am confused again. Who is representing our profession to Government?

Do you not think it would be easier if there was “one voice”?… Now, where have I heard that before?

David Smith

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