Managing design is worthy of DBA representation

The issue over whether non-practising architects should be allowed membership of Royal Institute of British Architects, and non-designers membership of the Design Business Association, is a rather ‘apples and pears’ argument (Vox Pop, DW 24 January).

Michael Johnson clearly recognises this and he’s right in saying that non-designers have no place in the Chartered Society of Designers – as, I agree, that non-practising architects probably have no place in RIBA.

However, the DBA has a broader remit and Douglas Cooper’s rather elitist view is, perhaps, the very reason we should be pleased it does. He seems to suggest in his comments that design managers without design qualifications should not be represented in the DBA or CSD, but, actually, they are probably the very people that should be represented.

The fact is that the best design managers may well not be designers at all and simply because the scope of their work in large business would never allow them to do actual design.

If they are a good designer, but have no time to design, then they’re probably in the wrong job. They will certainly be frustrated by the endless need to control budgets, input to brand strategy, keep a handle on numerous design groups and ensure the new IT manager isn’t wrecking the businesses’ well thought-through brand identity on the website.

The point is that designers should design and design managers should manage (of course, accepting there will be overlap in many situations). The CSD represents the former and the DBA both and, indeed, more disciplines still (thankfully).

Roger Hughes

Hughes Consultancy

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