Regional prospects look rosy with salaries on the way up

On the face of it, there’s never been a better time to be a designer working outside London. Quite apart from the much-vaunted ‘quality of life’ outside the metropolis, it appears to be paying more than it did previously.

While pay rates still lag behind those in the capital, so too does the cost of living. And with hikes of 12 per cent in pay year-on-year reported for middleweight and senior designers outside London and a massive 27 per cent increase for creative directors, prospects look good for a strong regional talent pool.

Our figures are only as good as our sources. But anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a pull to the regions, particularly among senior creatives, to join consultancies of national reputation.

This has undoubtedly prompted higher rates – and with pay for new business directors in the regions up by 25 per cent, we can expect that to continue.

Elmwood is a trailblazer here, with its teams in Leeds, Edinburgh and London turning out great work. And then there’s Love, a stalwart of the awards scene. Most days we hear of a new job for Love, so expansion is surely on the cards for the Manchester group that shows no inclination to set up in London.

This devolution of creative power coincides with a resurgence of regional pride. This month Designed in Devon joined the wealth of West Country design organisations, including the Cornwall Design Forum. Meanwhile, across the border, there is the Cardiff Design Forum and the Design Forum for Wales, among others.

A key difference between regional groups and their London peers though is that very few boast international clients. Elmwood, with its Australian office, is an exception.

Will this change with the building of expertise in the regions? Let’s hope it does as it will build the UK’s global standing for design and the industry’s influence at home.

Lynda Relph-Knight

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