What will you remember 2006 for? As the year that saw business take an upward turn – or a dive? The year of waiting for signs of the impact of the Cox Review on design? The year of the Design Museum debacle, with Alice Rawsthorn out and Deyan Sudjic in as director? The year when Williams Murray Hamm was bought by Loewy Group? Or the year when Alan Fletcher died?
Each of us has our own recollection of a year that has passed more speedily than most. Memorable occasions for the Design Week team have been our 20th birthday in September and the relaunch of our website last month.
In the wider world, design is still adjusting to challenges and opportunities from abroad. China, Dubai, Russia and India remain destinations of choice for consultancies. But the export issue, like Cox, is effectively last year’s news extended.
The biggest single shift this year has been the return to strength of digital design. Business commentators have tipped it for major growth and we can expect everyone, from ad agencies to design groups, to want a slice of that, through acquisition or organic growth.
Digital design is no more about websites than print design is about brochures. They are but part of the picture. Digital design has a role in all sectors, from exhibitions through branding to retail design and entertainment. What was once considered a fanciful, arty one-off, beloved by the creative community and kids of all ages, looks set to be a must-have for most clients.
This is great news, given the UK’s strength in digital. The impact on other areas of design could be significant, with print in particular coming under pressure, but the revival of a discipline that troughed big time in 2001 brings hope for the rest of us. The future’s bright.
We’re taking a seasonal break, but will be back on the streets on 4 January 2007. Until then, have a great Christmas and gird yourselves for a busy and prosperous new year.