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As the House of Lords debates the value of design in modernising the public sector, what do you make of Clive Grinyer’s view that the average Briton now appreciates and understands design?

‘My fear is that the average Briton’s point of reference is still “makeover TV” – the two design extremes of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s superficially tacky MDF pelmets and the financial excesses of Diarmuid Gavin’s titanium glasshouses. The gap in the public’s grasp of design lies in the point at which intelligence, simplicity, and sustainability combine to create genuine social benefit.’

Mark Whitehouse, Director, Second Opinion

‘Day to day experiences in the supermarket or sandwich shop are now high-calorie “design-managed” feasts. Computers, desktop publishing, the must-have designer bag/trainers/phone have all raised design’s profile and widened its appreciation. But this familiarity doesn’t always lead to greater things and design must still aim high. Design must not become the new PR pariahs, creating overpackaged, overbranded high streets.’

Valerie Wickes, Creative consultant, Pringle

‘Design to the average Brit? Good if it means Ikea, Habitat, Dyson, Boeing – all practice a “form follows function” approach that suits our British engineering heritage. In Italy, design is appreciated differently as it’s part of Italy’s artistic heritage and the saying “bella figura” encourages everyone to make things look good. Not sure that sentiment could work the same way in the UK… we’d probably call that “style over substance”.’

Franco Bonadio, Independent consultant

‘I’m not sure if a common understanding of what design means in the design business exists. And there is not a universal appreciation of design among the marketing and other business communities that design mainly directs its attention towards. It’s good design and the public sector that are coming closer together. But for the average Brit, I suspect design means Ikea at best.’

John Simmons, Director, Interbrand

‘Twelve-million people come through Boots’ UK stores each week – their spending patterns soon tell us when we’ve got it right through design. I’m not sure the British public understand they’re now officially “design-savvy”, but they do expect clear and simple levels of communication through design, and if they don’t find it in one place they can expect to find it elsewhere.’

Jon Turner, Creative director, Boots the Chemists

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