Designer certification scheme up for Government approval

The Chartered Society of Designers has filed an application to the Government to approve a system of professional certification for designers.

If approved by the Privy Council, the CSD and other professional bodies will be entitled to assess and award designers with ‘CDes’ charteredstatus. Designers would join the ranks of other chartered professionals, including accountants, surveyors, statisticians, linguists, engineers and marketers.

To gain the CDes credential, designers would be assessed on their professionalism, skills, knowledge and creativity, the last of which would be gauged ‘much in the same way that degree courses manage to appraise creativity’, says CSD chief executive Frank Peters.

Peters claims to have won the unanimous support of CSD members who attended a meeting of the society last December, and the backing of other design bodies. The Design Council confirms that it met with the CSD to discuss the issue before Christmas.

Design Council chief executive David Kester says, ‘We recommended that the CSD needs to have a wellstructured conversation with the design industry to ensure that designers influence the way this works. It must strengthen, rather than confuse the existing framework of the
design industry.’

Peters suggests a number of bodies that could confer the CDes status, such as the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Institution of engineering Designers and the British Institute of Interior Design. BIID president Iris Dunbar, who is also a fellow of the CSD, says she is giving her ‘full backing’ to the proposal, and has agreed for the BIID to be a conferring body if the charter is approved.

Once the designer has received their CDes badge, they would, like other chartered professionals, be obliged to undertake mandatory annual continuing professional development training.

‘This is not aimed at stopping anyone practising design, and there will be lots of designers who wouldn’t want to commit to continuing to train and develop, but it will help to raise the status of design as a profession,’ says Peters. ‘A lot of people have thought recently that the CSD is not oing anything, but there has been a great deal of work going on in the background regarding professionalism and standards,’ says Dunbar.

Peters estimates that the Privy Council will ruminate for about three months before vetoing or approving the proposal.


1930 – Chartered Society of Designers founded under the name the Society of Industrial Artists
1976 – CSD is granted a royal charter, recognising it as the official body for the design profession
c2001 – CSD chief executive Frank Peters starts to consider setting up a register of chartered designers
2009 – CSD applies to the Government to ratify the launch of the register

Hide Comments (8)Show Comments (8)
  • Kevin Quigley November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Is this a good thing? I have my concerns that this is just a convoluted means to ensuring the survival of organisations like the CSD, who do very little for designers outside London or cities. I also think the comment “there will be lots of designers who wouldn’t want to commit to continuing to train and develop” as an implication that those who choose not to be part of this club are not committed to ongoing CPD is insulting.

    As a product designer do I want to be a Chartered Designer? Unlike Accountants, Lawyers or Architects, designers cover a range of very diverse activities where the core competency is not necessarily related. So will we need a Chartered Product Designer, Chartered (God forbid) Branding Consultant, Chartered Interactive Media Designer etc?

    Prove to me that this will really benefit my customers and I will join up. But from where I stand this looks like yet another layer of administration that I need to pay for yet brings no tangible benefits.

  • Alex James November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I completely agree with your comment about this just being a means to keeping certain high flying CSD members feeling as though they have purpose.
    There is no visible benefit at all to this idea; if anything this will hinder the design worlds creativity, will make it more difficult for struggling graduates and uprising designers to make it in an already difficult area (meaning the real creatives get left behind and insightful entrepreneurs make it through to success.) also this will just confuse the customers.

    The defining difference between Designers and the chartered industries is creativity. Your being to mark in the same way as desgree courses, presuming they do it right, degree courses do not very well judge creativity it being a difficult thing to capture with a marking system, which by its nature would limit creativity and lead to people just ticking bullet points in order to make chartered status, thus having no benefit.

    I also would not be willing to join, yet I will certainly be continuing to train and develop, research and evolve, just not in the manner that some unhelpful corporate body thinks I ought to.

  • Maxine Horn November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Until the privy council has vetoed or approved the scheme no-one needs to be unduly concerned. If approved each designer/design firm, once terms and conditions are known, will vote with their feet accordingly.

    Some designers – such as those with a high level of responsibility for health and safety, legislation, sustainability – may well welcome a differentiation ‘potentially’ afforded by a chartered status.

    It might even reduce Professional Indemnity and Public Liability insurance premiums.

    The BDI board voted to, with proviso’s, support this initiative. It and it’s members are committed to maintianing high professional standards, CPD and best practice.

    We will therefore reserve judgment until such time that a decision has been made and if positive, the terms and conditions applied.

  • fat paul November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am


  • fat paul November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am



  • Chris November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    It will no doubt involve a membership fee of several thousand pounds.

  • Pickin Boy November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    In principle its a good idea.

    Its going to be tough on those who can’t get the CDes – especially if it impacts the fees they can charge.

    Will having a degree be part of the assessmen – if so that will impact those got into design without the training…

  • Steve Dwyer November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Is this idea really going to get of the ground?

    I can understand the need for Accreditation for sectors such as accounting etc, as there are qualifications to be earned and clear guidelines for yearly legislation change to be learned.

    What is classed as a design education? I certainly feel that my degree, way back when did not contribute to my career to date. There are many industry leaders who never even came from a traditional design background. When I look at graduate portfolios today I certainly don’t look to see if they did a degree first, surely creativity and a great rationale is what matters?

    But can you judge and benchmark ‘Creativity’?

    Firstly who will create the benchmark and assess whether a lone designer or a global agency is more or less creative that one another? It’s impossible for creativity to be judged, as we all know how subjective it can be, so where will the line be drawn?
    With the world just crawling out of a recession, how will this work for small agencies? I am sure that being a member of a chartered body will carry some for of membership fee, so is this the right way to encourage cash sensitive design entrepreneurs, by applying barriers?
    Lastly how will this work for agencies who cover a wide spectrum of services such as digital, branding etc? Surely there cant be a general accreditation across all disciplines and if individual measurement is required, will an agency see the benefit of investing all this time to gain accreditation. This could also it limit future growth for the agencies into other areas as I am sure re-application to the body will be required.
    I think there are lots of unanswered questions from agencies, but where are the questions from the CSD to the design world to see what they think?

  • Post a comment

Latest articles