The Chartered Society of Designers is the professional body for individual designers, constituted under a Royal Charter.
The CSD’s mission is “to promote high standards of design, to foster professionalism and to emphasise designers’ responsibility to society, to the client and to each other”.
Membership fluctuates, but the society claims an “average” of about 7000. Full membership entitles designers to use the letters MCSD and there is an assessment procedure which sees the CSD turn away around 20 per cent of applicants.
The CSD is funded by membership subscriptions (currently Ãº144 per year for full members) and income from its activities.
Money, says CSD director Brian Lymbery, has been “a consistent problem for a number of years”, dating from debts accumulated in 1987 to 1989, when a development programme failed to bring in the expected returns. The result is a debt close to Ãº1m. The CSD has kept going by servicing the debt and trying to eliminate operating losses, but the overall debt is not being reduced. It says its bank still considers the CSD viable.
The CSD has 14 staff, and hopes to add a post of education officer if funds can be found. It operates an elected council and an executive committee of honorary officers, including a president, Stefan Zachary, and a president-elect, Nick Jenkins.
Its regional network has eight regional committees, including ones covering Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Midlands. There are also more localised groups, plus groups covering design disciplines. The graphics group is currently being reconstituted under Mark Rollinson of Giant.
Internationally, it has a chapter in Hong Kong and is an active member of the Bureau of European Designers’ Associations.
The society is preparing to put together a business plan for what is provisionally titled the Design Clients Advisory Service, which it sees as complementing rather than conflicting with the Government’s Consultancy Brokerage Service. It wants to set up a database of designers, building on the return to the CSD of the now-defunct Design Council Register.
It is seeking to involve clients through its Business & Design Programme, numbering 50 members including BT and Marks and Spencer.
The CSD operates a code of professional conduct, covering ethics. Its adviser on copyright and design protection, Geoffrey Adams, sits on various European and global copyright and intellectual property organisations, “keeping the CSD locked into” what is a “key concern” of designers, and the society provides “a network of support for members with legal problems”, including supplying expert witnesses.
CSD accolades include the Minerva Awards, plus it awards the CSD Medal and student medal. Other services include its publications Preview and Design Review, portfolio surgeries and real-world seminars for students, and an expanding training programme for designers.