It’s been a thrilling week for the politicos – if more than a little nervous for those in design dependent to any extent on public funding. A coalition Government is an unknown quantity all round and, with the Tories bent on public spending cuts, design colleges, the Design Council and various initiatives needing the buy-in of the public sector are holding their breath until their fate is known.
The good news is that Lib Dem MP Vince Cable, who succeeds Peter Mandelson as Business Secretary, taking on Business, Innovation and Skills and therefore the Design Council, is already known to, and respected by, design activists. He showed an interest in projects relating to crime, among other things, before the recent parliamentary debacle. Jeremy Hunt, the new Culture Secretary, who takes on Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, is less known.
But as Sir John Sorrell pointed out this week, it really depends who will form the second tier – the ministers – and on how easy it will be to secure Government backing for individual initiatives and design as a whole.
Sorrell was speaking at the week’s other big event, for design at least – the announcement of the 2010 London Design Festival. Again with the Victoria & Albert Museum as its hub, the event in September will contain a host of events all operating under the LDF banner, united by a new broad-brush incarnation of the identity by Pentagram.
The LDF team are pushing the clunky giant ‘octopus’ devised by Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram for Trafalgar Square as a key focus. But though the mechanical configuration with robotic arms from the Audi production line will stream ‘light paintings’ on to the Web for all to see, it doesn’t have the cachet of last year’s ceramic chess board centrepiece handmade by Jaime Hayon. We will see.
More elegant is Paul Cocksedge’s ‘scuplture’ for the South Bank – the latest in the LDF’s Science and Matter series. Based on the penny in your pocket, the huge sheet metal circles will be bent by fabricator Form Tech to create distorted mirror-polished rounds, standing on their ends. They will be magnetised so that people can stick pennies to them and cause their surfaces to change constantly, making them a great place to go if you need a bit of cash for a cup of tea.
But all eyes in design are likely to be on Neville Brody’s subversive Anti-London Design Festival in Shoreditch. Building on the idea that we’ve been making money out of culture for 25 years, the Brody crew decided to see what happens if we make culture out of money. Watch this space to see what that collaboration will bring, but it bodes well that the Royal College of Art’s incoming graphics professor is already causing a stir.
Finally, there was huge sadness this week when design lost one of its biggest characters. The tragic death of interior designer David Chaloner in his mid-60s from cancer is a loss almost too hard to bear. He was an outstanding creative force – a designer, writer, poet and artist – and a wonderful, vibrant person.
We hadn’t seen him around much of late as his work has been mainly in the Netherlands, where he worked with business partner Joyce Huisman on a host of projects, from the Dutch post office and ING bank to the Heroes museum in the north of the country. But we miss him hugely already.