Palumbo takes a stand on design

Every company should have a design director, and each government department should have a minister championing design, Lord Palumbo said this week in a House of Lords debate on design.

Lord Palumbo, a trustee of the Design Museum and an ex-chairman of the Arts Council, urges every party to include design awareness in their election manifestos because it is “hugely important to the economy”.

In the debate he asked the Government what steps it was taking “to encourage industry to recognise and make full use of the wealth of talent available in this country in matters of design.

“Should there not be a minister in each department of Government championing design and responsible for its application? Should not industrial and commercial companies ensure that there is on their board a design director?” Lord Palumbo asked.

However, a Design Council spokesman says: “It is more important that people understand design. A token design director is probably not the solution.”

Lord Currie of Marylebone saw “a need for management training in our business schools” to promote design effectiveness.

All eight peers taking part were briefed by the Design Council for the debate, which was attended by Sir Terence Conran. Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, who replied for the Government, claimed: “To encourage and help our companies to become world class is a central aim of Government policy.”

But Lord Freyberg blamed the Government for “a wilful policy of downgrading the visual arts at a tertiary” level of education.

The Design Council spokesman welcomes the debate: “It was positive to see a universal agreement that we need to encourage and help British business to use design effectively.”

But he worries that: “It will get lost in the General Election.”

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