We are on a mission at Design Week. Our aim? – to get interaction design better represented within the creative community and beyond.
And we are in good company. A handful of top talents in interaction are keen to debate how best we can get it recognised as a design discipline in its own right, with as much clout to create wealth for client, consultancy and country as any other area of design. A significant difference is that, unlike most other disciplines, interaction design can blend commerce with culture through, say, museum and public-space installations, apps and computer games.
Yet it’s potential is too often misunderstood by clients, perhaps because so often interaction designers are buried within ad agencies. Some of the smarter design groups are though beginning to recognise its importance in creating designs that go way beyond the website – witness Williams Murray Hamm restructuring, reported in this week’s issue of DW, to create the position of design director integrated. Elsewhere, Someone set up interaction offshoot Someone Else last autumn, under Warren Hutchinson, and the Conran Group launched Conran Singh with Daljit Singh.
Perhaps more telling is the failure of the establishment to grasp its significance. When asked this week why interaction design wasn’t represented at the Design Council’s first Design Summit, entitled Design for Growth and of which he is a staunch champion, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said there would be webcasts and the like of the event, perhaps not appreciating that the topic has as valid a case for a place on the platform as the product and automotive design set to dominate the day. Willetts isn’t alone in this, but his response is sadly telling of the scant value put on interaction design where it counts, even though the UK boasts world-class creatives working in the field.
And it’s not just in Whitehall that interaction design is being undersold. When cultural funding bodies like the Arts Council wielded the axe on grants last year, the likes of moving image festival Onedotzero felt the pain, along with its patron the British Film Institute. Yet, according to Onedotzero founder Shane Walter, in its 15-year life the festival has allowed experimentation in the digital arena and thereby spawned a number of significant players in the field – all creating entertainment for the public and cash for British coffers.
We have yet to formulate our action plan – and we’ll keep you posted. If meanwhile, you have ideas you’d like to throw into the pot, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. The better informed we are and the more creative, the more positive will be the outcome. And surely we all want that.