It’s not often a designer gets to enjoy the favours of their government. We’ve seen it here with the likes of Sir Terence Conran, Sir Paul Smith and Sir John Sorrell, all of whom have been dubbed design ‘ambassadors’ in their time and all of whom remain stalwart champions of the creative industries, whichever Government (mainly Labour) first identified their prowess in making the case for design.
Apple’s creative head Jonathan Ive is, meanwhile, arguably the most celebrated designer in the world – not just in his native UK where he’s won just about every gong going – even before the iPad really hits the awards circuit.. And Thomas Heatherwick is coming up fast, particularly with the awards success he and his team rightly enjoyed with the hugely innovative British Pavilion they created for the Shanghai Expo in China last year. we should be proud to have spawned such extraordinary talents as these.
German designer Erik Spiekermann is likewise no slouch when it comes winning accolades, but even the uber cool typography star is openly thrilled by news that he is to receive the Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany next week. ‘I’m getting a biggie this year,’ he says, in what he terms a ‘not so modest’ prompt that the ceremony will be on 11 February.
Spiekermann may be a seasoned globe-trotter, with bases in West Coast America and London’s Dalston as well as his Berlin home, and enjoy an international reputation for creative quality and impish cheek. But there’s nothing like being recognised by your own – especially when your homeland is Germany with its enviable reputation for great design.
What’s interesting about Spiekermann’s award – given for ‘exceptional international achievements’ – is that it is sponsored by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and nominations come from other ministries, as well as the German Design Council.
Can you imagine the UK’s coalition Government introducing such a scheme? Don’t hold your breath, judging by what we hear about most current Government ministers being a closed door to design, but it would be a real vote for the clout of creativity in business and raising our national reputation abroad.
It’s odd though that, given the illustrious ranks Spiekermann represents in winning the award – think Dieter Rams and the in-house teams at manufacturers such as Braun and Audi on the product side and a host of graphics emigrés like Walter Landor who set the standards we still support today – than a fellow countryman won’t be giving the citation. That honour falls to British critic and Eye magazine editor John Walters. Nice to know the Brits are still respected across the Continent.
Nice one, Erik. Sock it to ‘em, John.