The Royal Designers for Industry are criticising parent body the Royal Society of Arts for the way it researched and launched its Design & Society manifesto.
The RSA unveiled its new manifesto, written by director of design Emily Campbell, last month (DW 23 July). However, Master of the Faculty of RDIs Chris Wise complains that the RSA and its manifesto have failed to answer ‘the question that we put to them on 22 May – what does the RSA see as the role of excellent design in contemporary life?’.
The Design & Society paper, titled, ‘You know more than you think you do/ Design as resourcefulness and self-reliance’, aims to convince designers to share their knowledge and ‘resourcefulness’ with the general public.
Former head of the RDIs and Studio Dempsey founder Mike Dempsey also expressed concern. He says, ‘The manifesto has nothing to do with the RDIs. I was not consulted, and neither were any of the other RDIs, as far as I know, which seems like a fantastic missed opportunity. The faculty has an incredible array of designers and a huge amount of knowledge, so it seems odd not to have asked them their opinion on the future direction of the RSA.’
Campbell says she sent the RDI Executive two drafts of the paper and made two presentations to the faculty about ‘the direction of RSA Design’, and updated the executive in the spring. She also claims to have informally asked members, including Dempsey, whether ‘in their professional work they have ever made anyone else more resourceful and self-reliant’ during her research for the manifesto.
Dempsey, who stresses he is commenting ‘from a personal perspective’ rather than as a member of the RDI faculty, refutes that Campbell’s actions amounted to consultation. ‘What I believe happened was that we were presented with a fait accompli,’ he says.
Campbell argues that the RDIs failed to fully engage in the consultation process, claiming that, ‘The point of showing them the drafts was to get their response, but they did not make any suggestions in writing.’
Royal Designers for Industry:
- The title Royal Designer for Industry was introduced by the Royal Society of Arts in 1936 to honour designers of excellence
- The RDI Ordinance says that the RSA Trustee Board ‘may from time to time as occasion may arise consult the Royal Designers… in regard to any matter relating to design or incidental to it’