Reminder just to clear any muddy waters

For the purposes of clarification, The British Design Initiative is a firm supporter of partnerships with all other specialist design promoters.

We are working with the Design Business Association Scotland on a pan-European Design show – European Designer ’96, for whom the BDI is appointed UK agents.

We are beginning talks with Sean Blair at the Design Council to examine ways in which its position as the “voice” of British design can be incorporated into appropriate BDI export events.

We have attempted, with the support of the Department of Trade and Industry, to work with Design Business Association in London – this sadly has so far proved fruitless, but our door remains open.

The BDI does not seek to be the “voice” of British design – a role already occupied by the Design Council. It does not seek to be a trade association – a role already occupied by the DBA. It seeks to be a commercial representative of UK design companies’ export activities and to provide overseas buyers with a focal point for the “purchase” of UK design services.

While it can be argued that the BDI has a commercial vested interest in the consultancies it represents and that our client recommendations exclude consultancies who choose not to work with the BDI, the following issues must be taken into account:

All design companies must work on a commercial basis.

Overseas marketing can be an expensive pursuit. A central export marketing department on a shared resource basis at least makes it more cost-effective than going it alone.

Consultancies which choose not to participate in BDI initiatives are making a commercial decision, which is entirely their prerogative. But in making that decision they cannot reasonably expect to be benefactors of the investments made by other


The nature of designers is to be critical, but if the UK design industry is to become stronger, consultancies must recognise that they are instrumental in that process. If it wants a strong trade association, it has to support and contribute to its development. If it wants support with exports, from organisations such as the BDI, it should expect to pay for services.

Maxine Horn

Managing director

The British Design Initiative

London SW6

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