Review of the Year – The Government and design

Government-commissioned design work was, unsurprsingly, rather thin on the ground in 2011, following the Government’s freeze on marketing spend implemented last year.

Business Link
The Business Link identity, by Smith and Milton

(Despite this, Smith & Milton did manage to rebrand Government-run service Business Link last month and there was this rather interesting competition for pylon design concepts, involving the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which was won by Bystrup.

Bystrup's pylon concept
Bystrup’s pylon concept

Indeed, much of 2011’s news seemed to concern Government-run bodies either being axed or having to radically overhaul themselves.

So the Design Council settled into its new role as an independent charity, having lost its Government body-status, and merged with the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

Design Council CABE
Design Council CABE logo

Meanwhile the Central Office of Information began its winding-down period, with plans to replace it with a series of cross-departmental commissioning hubs.

The Creative Choice consortium, which features design consultancies Bell, Bentley Holland and the Domarn Group, was appointed as the Department for Education’s creative services supplier, a precursor perhaps to the upcoming cross-departmental hubs?

And a review of Arts Council England grants saw the Crafts Council and the London Design Festival both have their funding cut, while Onedotzero had its Arts Council grant withdrawn entirely. MPs warned that the spending cuts could be ‘disasterous’ for the UK arts scene.

Ben Page at the Design Council Forum
Ben Page at the Design Council Forum

2011 was also a year of some furious lobbying to central Government. A Design Council Forum earlier this month called for Government to implement a national design strategy, as did the Design Commission’s report on design education, while the Government’s Innovation Strategy provided a ringing endorsement for the Design Council’s role, and made lots of promises for further recognition of design.

Lets see if those pledges become reality in 2012.

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