Get ready for 1999’s design opportunities

Will 1999 be a year-in-waiting – nothing special for itself, but a prelude for the momentous 2000 and the millennium festivities? As it starts we’re not sure if the deadline of 1 January 2000 for completion of the Millennium Dome at Greenwich will be met, especially with the inevitable hassle of a new Government master taking political control, and we in the UK can only watch from the sidelines as the impact of the euro, the year’s biggest news to date, is assessed by countries more directly involved.

For design, the next 12 months hold great promise, despite any dip in the economy. The advent of the new millennium should throw up work as clients cash in with their own promotions; and while the politics surrounding the Dome continue to dog all involved, Greenwich isn’t the only place hosting events needing design skills.

As for the euro, it is unlikely to have an immediate effect on most UK consultancies – until the Government signs up to it. But financial commentators see it as the start of greater economic integration across Europe, with a merging of services and the regionalisation of national banks and financial services groups. The opportunities for design are obvious, as changes are communicated. And while the UK isn’t officially involved as yet, there’s nothing to stop our designers winning work. Check out the broadsheets’ business pages and seize the opportunities as they arise.

Meanwhile, UK clients continue to become better versed in design, with rosters now the norm. We closed 1998 with news of Allied Domecq’s roster plans and await details of the Mars line up. Rosters aren’t perfect, but they put design on a client’s agenda rather than leaving it solely to the will of an in-house champion. Moves by the Design Council to appoint a director for industry can only help reinforce belief in the benefits design can yield.

As an industry, design is in better shape than it’s been for years. Creativity is still an issue, but we hope to see better work this year – not least from last year’s high-profile start-ups and the bevy of new creative heads brought in by more established consultancies.

But to have real impact the industry must pull together as it did in the Eighties to create a public platform. We can’t rely on the Chartered Society of Designers and Design Business Association to raise the level of debate, caught up as they are in their own concerns, so our hopes are pinned on the cross-industry initiative Design Unity to move the industry forward. But really it’s down to all of us to do our bit to raise the stakes for design in 1999.

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