Design Council chief executive John Mathers on the past, present and future

As the Design Council launches its new web presence, chief executive John Mathers outlines his plans for the future.

John Mathers

Some, I hope many, of you might have seen our new web platform.

We’ve been developing this for some time for a number of reasons. We need to prepare ourselves for the future as a very different organisation to where we have been in the past – we are now a charity and very much responsible for our own future whereas in the past we have been largely funded by Government.

At the same time as this happened we merged with the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. This is very exciting because it means our remit is now to champion great design, from buildings and homes, communities and neighbourhoods to products and services.

But it’s never easy, and it takes time, bringing two organisations together and developing a ‘One Design Council’ philosophy.

And last, but by no means least, we’ve been listening to what people say about us, what they would like us to do and what they feel is important for the design industry.

We can’t be what we were in the past but remembering what we did well and making that fit for purpose for the future is very clearly our challenge. We’re going to be 70 in December – thank you Mr Churchill – and we have some great plans to celebrate the best of the past but also look forward and set out what we think needs to be done in the world of design over the next 70.

The best way to get a flavour of what we do is to browse the new platform, but if you want a quick snapshot of the last year and plans for the year ahead then here we go

As some of you have pointed out recently we need to reconnect with our industry, make it very clear what we are trying to do and ultimately to tell that powerfully to both Government and the general public. This is the start of that journey.

We’ve got new trustees on board, our sounding board is kicking off next week, we hosted a Design Industry Roundtable, with all the key design organisations, last week to start to establish some core messages for the design industry, we’re talking to design communities around the UK, we’ve got bold plans to promote British design abroad, but … there’s always more we can do. So I’d be very pleased if you wanted to email me with your thoughts or come in and have a chat.

John Mathers is chief executive of the Design Council. You can email him at

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