The Design Business Association is a trade body for design businesses. Its mission is “to promote, support and represent the business of design to industry and commerce worldwide, to become the influential voice of design consultancies and to become synonymous with an assurance of design professionalism”. The working version of that statement is: “To help our members do more and better work.”
The DBA has 205 members, a rising figure which it expects to grow further. Membership is open to businesses earning at least half of their income from design services. The association estimates there are up to 600 businesses which could “and should” be members, says chief executive Ian Rowland-Hill. There is also an affiliate member category for anyone or any business interested in the DBA.
The DBA is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee and is not a registered charity. It is funded by membership subscription and project income. Members pay according to their size. The association estimates it represents a workforce in its member consultancies of up to 4000 people.
The DBA has cash reserves. Its professional practice training courses are the largest source of income from projects.
The association has a chairman, currently Pentagram partner Ken Grange, and a vice-chairman, Elmwood managing director Jonathan Sands. They are two of 12 people on the board of directors elected by the membership.
The majority of DBA members are in South East England, though DBA Scotland was launched in 1993. Although the DBA has “good relations” with bodies such as the Manchester Design Community, there is no formal regional structure.
Members with legal and copyright problems are entitled to a free half-hour of advice from DBA’s solicitors.
Internationally, the DBA wants to monitor European Union directives affecting design, but is looking for a cost-effective way of doing it. It has been working with the DTI on its North America Now export drive (DW 17 March).
The DBA seeks to involve clients through its events, particularly its Design Effectiveness Awards, where clients are on the jury.
Other DBA initiatives include work on best-practice procedures for pricing, billing and project cost-monitoring; a computer-users group; performance ratios surveys; and a newsletter, Datum.