As a corporate body, the BBC is an exemplar of using design well through cross-platform technology. The launch of the iPlayer, in particular, has been shortlisted for the Brit Insurance Design Awards 2010 and was cited by the Hot 50 selectors as an original idea.
The free innovation gives people what they want and supports public-service television. The paradox is that the BBC offered a poor portrayal of design through its programmes last year. French designer Philippe Starck’s BBC Two reality show Design for Life was, for example, hugely disappointing with its attempt to popularise design on TV.
The Apprentice-style show appeared preoccupied with turning designers into TV personalities, while the subject of design took a back seat. It set the context for the year and stimulated debate in the industry, though most views were incredibly negative.
Another BBC Two design programme on prime-time TV was interior design series Home for Life. The home-improvement show was hosted by Jam Design founder Jamie Anley and Corridor co-founder Phil Nutley, who felt they were ‘a couple of ingredients in a much bigger pot’. The show had pace, but didn’t stretch the boundaries.
The Hot 50 panel felt it is important for design to get more airing on TV, but that this is not the way to do it.