Fingers are still crossed for the coalition Government’s support of design with no real news of how public-sector cuts will affect organisations such as the Design Council and Nesta. But, with the Emergency Budget in the offing for Tuesday, we may learn more next week.
The first tangible signs of retrenchment came this week with a warning from the British Council that consultancies on its newly formed design roster may have to wait as long as next year to get work as it responds to Government dictates about how cash is allocated on projects (News, DW 17 June).
But there is better news from the high street – for London consultancy Household Design at least – with Waitrose finally succumbing to the trend set by supermarkets of lesser social standing and opening up convenience stores. If it can work for the likes of Tesco with its Metro and other formats and Sainsbury’s with its Local outlets, then why not for the upmarket Waitrose, which has far fewer main stores?
We saw change too for British retailing institution Moss Bros, purveyor of wedding gear for generations of grooms and their attendants, again courtesy of Household. No longer a ‘brotherhood’, the simpler Moss is playing up strengths such as its Bespoke service, with retail formats to match.
If the high street is the barometer for financial health, as we are led to believe, then it is encouraging to see movement at both ends of the spectrum – though it must be said that both Waitrose and Moss tend to be a cut above the mass market. It is good news indeed for design – and fuel for the new retail design modules being set up in the Netherlands and India by Professor Rodney Fitch with Delft University – that retailers are looking beyond just price again as a way of attracting and retaining customers.
There have been interesting shifts within consultancy life too, with Lewis Moberly starting to address the succession issue with the promotion of Simon Gore to managing director and Heavenly acquiring Be A Brand, the branding group to the stars.
It is particularly heartening to see Lewis Moberly making a move. So many of its generation of creatively led design groups left it too late to regroup or sell on and simply vanished – Trickett & Webb and interiors group Din Associates spring to mind as examples. Without groups of this creative calibre setting the standards it would be easy for branding groups in particular to slip into mediocrity, doing just enough to satisfy clients and not pushing the boundaries on behalf of the end-user in terms of function, aesthetic quality and overall experience.