Peter Mandelson is ‘design champion-in-waiting’

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has been identified as the Government’s design champion-in-waiting by prominent activists in the industry.

At a meeting convened by the Associate Parliamentary Group for Design and Innovation this morning to discuss the Government’s support for the UK design sector, Will Knight, deputy director of the London Design Festival, described Mandelson as a ‘key design champion’, though strictly this does not fall within his brief.

The LDF team engaged Mandelson to open this year’s event in September while he was EU Trade Commissioner. He assumed the role of Business Secretary in October.

His speech focused on the importance of intellectual property to Europe, one of the issues debated by the APGDI. ‘In the modern European economy we trade in ideas – in “content”. That is our unique selling point,’ he said.

There was consensus at this morning’s debate – hosted by Labour MP for North West Durham Hilary Armstrong, and which included Design Council deputy chief executive David Godber, Virgin Atlantic head of design Joe Ferry and Ideo chief creative officer Paul Bennett, among others – that design needs high-level representation in Government.

Godber said this is a crucial time for design, with a number of significant capital projects in the offing, such as the 2012 London Olympics and housing programmes. He spoke of the importance of ‘engaging design early in the procurement process’ for such ventures.

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