What next for the Design Council?

The Design Council that chief executive David Kester is leaving is a very different organisation from the one he joined nine years ago.

David Kester
David Kester

In the past 18 months Kester has steered the Design Council through the Government’s bonfire of the quangoes to a new existence as a charity, and into a merger with the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, bringing architectural design review under its remit.

And even before these dramatic changes the organisation had changed radically under his charge, moving to focus on national design initiative such as Design Out Crime and Design Bugs Out, and building links to promote design at the highest levels of Government.

Whatever Kester’s reasons handing in his resignation, now does seem like an appropriate time to move on – he leaves a recalibrated Design Council, set to move to new offices in Islington, which has strong links with business and Government, is developing self-funding projects, and seems to have absorbed its architectural responsibilities with little difficulty.

Whoever replaces him – and takes over from chief operating officer Madeline Denmead, who is stepping up in the interim – will inherit a very different Design Council, and could come from a number of backgrounds.

They could, like Kester, be a proven design industry administrator. They could, like recent senior appointments Tony Burton and Nahid Majid, come from the public sector or the built environment world. Or they could, in keeping with the Design Council’s new position, come from the third sector or even the private sector.

Whoever that is, and the direction that they will take the Design Council now, is yet to be decided.

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