The industry is shaping up nicely for the next 20 years

I had the huge pleasure last week of celebrating 20 years as Design Week editor with some 160 key people from the industry at the annual Podge Council lunch.

Podge, brainchild of the ever resourceful Phil Jones of Real Time Consultancy, was held in London. But it wasn’t just a London event, with revellers from the North, West, Scotland and East Anglia among the throng, and contingents from Germany and the US.

The mood generally was upbeat, the recession notwithstanding, which is one of the reasons I have happily spent so long in design. Even in tough times, the industry has a buoyancy, a sense of fun and optimism that will see it through most crises – and, like me, many of those in the room that day were in their third downturn.

The past 20 years have thrown up many changes for design. It is bigger and more businesslike than it was in 1989, with respected ‘suits’ among the key players. It is more international – several Podge stalwarts were abroad on business last week, as far afield as Russia, China and Dubai, which is now the norm.

It is broader in scope, with digital design joining retail, interiors, branding, graphics, product and furniture as its main disciplines. And with areas such as service design, wayfinding and sustainability offering a stronger leadership role for those bent on pursuing them, design is entering a new sphere of influence.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the public sector. Huge challenges exist there, but the audience isn’t totally unreceptive. The New Deal of the Mind has had an airing at 11 Downing Street, for example (see News Analysis, page 9), and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith hosted presentations by schoolchildren on how to combat crime last month, thanks to the Sorrell Foundation. These are all positives on which design can build, whatever the economic climate. It has the creativity and drive to do it.

Thank you to you all for your support to date. Let’s work together to make sure the next 20 years are as inventive.

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