UK product design industry needs to change

The UK’s product design industry is ‘over-confident, overpaid… and in danger of being left behind’, according to Pearson Matthews director Jim Dawton.

Writing in Design Week tomorrow, Dawton lists domestic and foreign threats to British product designers. Competition from China and the South Korean ‘design powerhouse’, the growth of in-house design departments and ‘global economic turmoil’ will all squeeze the UK market next year, he writes.

Dawton forecasts that in 2008, ‘design education is going to become increasingly irrelevant to the needs of the design business’ and that a ‘small number of good design graduates’ will send salaries spiralling unsustainably high.

Quoting Dott07 director John Thackara’s edict that ‘the age of the object is dead’, Dawton wonders if some product designers are experiencing an identity crisis.

‘For me, it isn’t whether or not we will continue to consume objects, but rather whether the UK product design industry will remain interested enough, or even competitive enough, to design them,’ he says.

Priestman Goode is singled out for praise for its design of the BT Home Hub, and Dawton also congratulates Seymour Powell on its purchase by Loewy last year. ‘We will all dream of similar deals,’ he says.

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  • Charles Rist November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Interesting article? Product Design in the UK has been non existant for the last twenty years. Only a hand full of names could be considered as raising the international Product Design bar. The problem is we don’t have any factories left. Companies in the UK stick their necks out with ground breaking investments like web design and brochure graphics. As a graduate Product Designer in the UK the only way to make it big is to work overseas. As for ‘Design Consultancies’ you might think a better design should win the job. Unfortunately ‘inhouse’ is always cheaper and this reflects in the sparse portfolio’s of our top companies. Bring back the Industrial Revolution.

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