Tributes are flooding in for Peta Levi, founder of Design-Nation and The Design Trust, who died at the end of last week, aged 69.
Levi was renowned in the industry for her fierce and unwavering support for new talent. She was instrumental in launching the careers of several well-known British designers and helped more than 700 designers establish successful businesses through a number of initiatives, including Eureka!
Ella Doran, founder of EllaDoran Design, is one of the many in the industry who took advantage of the networking opportunities Levi famously created by linking buyers with creative talent. ‘I’m incredibly indebted to her for the Meet the Buyers initiative she set up through the Design Council,’ she says. ‘Through that opportunity I now have a creative and stimulating deal with John Lewis – Peta had the ability to create these platforms which allowed so much to happen.’
Levi began her career working as a design journalist for House & Garden and Vogue. In 1983, she pioneered the New Designers exhibition and in 1991 set up and developed New Designers in Business.
She was renowned for her ability to develop fruitful links with other organisations including the Design Council, the then Department of Trade & Industry and London Metropolitan University, which agreed to incorporate The Design Trust into the Met Works umbrella of creative services and awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2006.
‘Peta was absolutely instrumental in encouraging young designers and she did it almost single-handedly, with hardly any money and so much charm,’ says Andrew Summers, chairman of Design Partners and former chair of the Design Council. He adds that Levi’s husband, Michael Sayers, provided an important base of financial support, allowing Levi to put her ideas into action.
Levi’s death will leave the industry wondering who could replace this indomitable figure. ‘There’s lots to celebrate, but also lots to debate in her passing,’ says Doran, who calls for a prize for innovation, dedicated to Levi’s name.
Design-Nation marketing manager Rachel Moses points out that the organisation’s link with London Metropolitan University means it will continue to function normally. Design-Nation’s annual party on Tuesday will go ahead as planned.
Levi is survived by Michael, daughters Kate and Ruth, son Nick and five grandchildren. Design-Nation has asked that letters of condolence be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her funeral will be held this afternoon and a date for a memorial service will be set shortly.