If we thought we were in for a let-up in workload as the summer reaches its height, we were wrong. The volume of projects coming across our desks at Design Week has abated slightly, but not to the extent you might expect in a year we’re told to expect a double-dip recession.
On the contrary, some groups seem to be inundated with interesting projects. Take branding group Someone and interaction design star All of Us, which are both involved with Simon Waterfall’s start-up Fray on projects for Russian 4G broadband provider Yota.
Then there’s Johnson Banks, which, having successfully launched the new Science Museum identity last month, has now completed a comprehensive branding overhaul for airline Virgin Atlantic. That’s not bad going for a tiny consultancy that makes up in talent and ambition for its physical size.
Talking of size, we are also witnessing expansion in some quarters. We are particularly bemused by the growth of Heavenly, which since late June has alerted us to a new hiring, invariably in a senior role, more or less on a weekly basis.
June saw James Fenner and co from Be a Brand throw in their lot with the London branding consultancy, then earlier this month Gwen Kotschy joined as head of TV and Paul Franklin rejoined his old boss Martin Lambie-Nairn as deputy creative director. Now Andy York has quit Interbrand to become head of verbal identity.
Would that more consultancies were as bullish with their staffing. But with a number of high-profile start-ups launching this year we might expect similar moves elsewhere, heralding a welcome return to true optimism in the sector.
Talking of optimism, the Design Council can take considerable comfort in the fact it is being subjected to a Government review by its main master, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, rather than facing the axe that has lopped off so many quangos in the cultural arena. The UK Film Council and Sport England were among the highest profile casualties of a rationalisation by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced this week, indicating the scale and scope of the cuts.
Questions are being asked in design about the ‘independence’ of the Design Council review, given that it is being chaired by a council member, Martin Temple of The 600 Group. Perhaps more support should though be given to the council’s efforts to make the case for design to the coalition Government through the review in the way Sir George Cox managed to persuade Labour of its potential for salving social and economic ills through the Cox review of 2005.
To this end, I’d welcome your views on what the Design Council could – or should – be doing to boost design’s role in the UK and build public perception of its potential. There’s an opportunity here for the design community to have its say for once on something that might impact on the industry’s future, so please leave your comment.