Up to 6000 designers will be voting in the coming weeks for the Chartered Society of Designers’ next president-elect. This is the first time in 26 years the society has opened out such an election, largely in the belief that it is important for members to choose who heads the body.
Certainly the election is a significant one; the president-elect serves a two-year term, working with the president on the long-term aims of the CSD, before beginning a two-year term as president. And given the general image of the society as a fading dinosaur, a body beset by long-standing financial debt and declining membership, the choice is doubly important in establishing the CSD’s long-term stability and vitality.
Whoever wins will be instrumental in shaping the CSD’s future into the millennium. On the election trail are C&FD founder Adrianne LeMan and Randak Design Consultants director Lin Gibbon. Here, each candidate tells Design Week why they deserve the membership’s vote.
Adrianne LeMan is fighting the election from a platform of experience. She has been honorary treasurer at the CSD for the past two years, so it’s not surprising that finances are at the root of her agenda for the society. Building links with other design bodies, increasing the services offered by the CSD to its members, playing a greater lobbying role with government and further developing awareness among clients and in education are also on her agenda.
But LeMan firmly believes that the society can only deliver the services it would like to from a secure financial base. And she is candid about the current fiscal state of the society. “You can’t do anything from a weak financial position. Much as I would like to be able to appoint an education director and vastly increase the society’s services, it is still in considerable debt. I’ve worked hard and achieved a considerable amount in the time I’ve been honorary treasurer, but I believe we still have to keep a tight rein on costs.”
LeMan champions greater integration between the dissonant voices in the design industry. “I want to work more closely with the DBA – I feel very strongly that the DBA split was to the detriment of both bodies, and I’ve worked hard to ensure they stayed in the same building when the CSD moved,” she says. “It’s important for design to have not one voice, but a common voice,” she adds.
Another cornerstone of her manifesto is the theme of building bridges. “We must continue to build links with business and to educate buyers of design in order to make them realise the value of design; and we must forge greater links with colleges,” she says.
Practical aims include increasing the society’s funds and attracting more members – LeMan believes more students are becoming members which bodes well for future membership figures. She wants to set up a scheme where CSD fellows lead talks with students without a fee; and continue the CSD’s business design programme.
Developing a series of “white papers on matters of interest to the design community – like informing members of current legislation on things such as copyright” is another service LeMan would initiate if she wins the election.
Trained at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal College of Art. Worked in general design, national newspapers and magazines.
1982-87 Director at Addison Design
1987-92 Managing director of Holmes & Marchant Corporate Design
1992 Set up C&FD
1988-1989 Joint chairman of the CSD’s graphic group and member of council
1994-1996 CSD honorary treasurer
Lin Gibbon is promising to take the blueprint from her stint as chair of CSD Scotland – increased membership, more links with other design organisations, education, business and government, and an effective database to maximise member involvement – and apply it to the CSD as a whole should she win the election.
Gibbon says she is under no illusions as to the predicament the CSD finds itself in. The society needs more members to be able to provide more services, but potential members are turned off by the perception that the CSD is not relevant to them.
The same is true of students. The CSD is keen to recruit students as diploma members but the majority of new graduates don’t feel any need to join.
“We have got to be an effective society working with companies, businesses and government to show potential members that the CSD is something they should be part of,” says Gibbon. “The CSD should be – and must be seen as – relevant.
“We have to get young designers on board by showing them that we are worthwhile. Young designers are our seed corn.”
Gibbon pledges to push the CSD to employ an education director, a post she claims can be funded from external sources rather than from the CSD’s already restricted budget.
Part of the education director’s role would be to work towards the CSD accrediting or certifying design degrees. “At present, anyone can call themselves a designer. We need assessment.”
Gibbon nails her colours firmly to the Nick Jenkins-supported campaign to re-integrate the CSD and its breakaway sister, the Design Business Association. “There’s no division up here [in Scotland]. Hopefully Nick will pave the way, working with a lot of us from both organisations who feel likewise.”
Gibbon applauds LeMan’s performance as the CSD’s honorary treasurer. “It’s a pity she’s not staying on longer,” says Gibbon. “The CSD’s debt can come down further and has to. We have to keep chipping away at it.”
A more effective database of CSD members would help “engage” the membership in the society and provide a central core of information and expertise to help the CSD raise its profile outside design, says Gibbon.
1972 Graduated from Glasgow School of Art
1974 Joined Randak Design Consultants, Glasgow
1977 Made director of Randak
1993-95 Chair of CSD Scotland
1993-95 Member of the CSD Regional Board
1994- Director of Scottish Design
1995 Co-founder of IDEAS, Industry Design Education Action Scotland