Jeremy Myerson hits out at universities

Jeremy Myerson, of London’s Royal College of Art, has come down heavily against universities carrying out commercial design work.

Myerson, director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre and Professor of Design Studies at the RCA, says, ‘The view of the RCA is that we shouldn’t compete with our own graduates or with the employees of those graduates. But we should do research [that improves lives and informs commercial ventures].’

Myerson was speaking on Wednesday at the work-in-progress exposé of The Sound of North: Wayfinding for Visually Impaired People, a research study by RCA research associate David Sweeney, which is funded by the HHC and the Audi Design Foundation.

The effect of universities offering commercial ‘in-house’ design services has been the subject of mounting controversy among product design professionals, who aired their concerns in a letter published in Design Week last month.

Signed by 19 designers from across the UK, the letter claimed that some academic institutions are undercutting design professionals on price, as well as misappropriating public funding intended for research.

Speaking to Design Week last month, Pearson Matthews founder and letter signatory Mike Pearson criticised universities for leveraging an unfair advantage over consultancies that pay higher overheads.

Pearson cited the damaging effects of ‘poorly delivered product design’ on the industry as a whole, and argued that those clients who have been burned by bad experiences with inexperienced university design consultancies ‘are beginning to complain that design doesn’t work, which is the wrong conclusion to draw’.

Lack of investment in design education has also been blamed for the rising number of universities generating their own revenue streams.

The Design Council’s head of skills Lesley Morris has called for ‘definitions and guidelines’ to be drawn up between universities and professional design bodies, in order make things clearer to potential clients.

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  • justin bayliss November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    the whole arguement is rediculous, and should never have been raised. Accademic institutions must always run commercial ventures to be credible. The reason why most accademic institutions exist is because they provide a valid servise to industry. Every single institutution holds its own expert exprtise. It is clear that academic institutions should not advertise general design experites, but specifics. I cannot complain, my final year project was comercial, designing more efficient coal burning systems for power stations.. Utilisisy the expert knowledge of all envolved, we probably cut NOx emissions by 18%. Design companies do not have specific expert knowlege to solve indepth problems. With such an argument all institutions have there professors, accademic doctors, research fellows, phd students, masters students etc. they would not exist if they were not commercially viable.

    Myself I am BEng(Hons) MA(RCA) DIC, I work for myself getting my own clients. the RCA IDE department have done comercial work before, as per one of your previous articles. As using Mike Pearson as a credible witness what can you say… as a designer second to none, but as a business owner a sharleton.. just ask Ed Matthews.

    To the point I earn money from being expert at what I do, accademic institutions tout there moneys from being expert at what they do, large consultancies charge expensive rates, and get graduates to do the work… except Frazer deisigners, where Stephen Frazerm seems to need no sleep and does all the work himself.

    The real point is that accademic institutions do work and issue work using educational licenses. I pay full commercial fees for all my software to do commercial work.

    So those doing commerical work on accademic licences are breaking the law, and should be investiged by customs and exice for not paying the correct tax. It is clear that accademic institution rip off the honest British tax payer by doing works on equipment that is licensed only for academic purposes.

    Why do people only complain to Design Week…. well problay because if they make a serious complaint to the Inland Revenue would probably convict them of VAT fraud. Justin Bayliss Ltd, resentfully pays for all its software.

    Justin Bayliss BEend(hons) MA(RCA) DIC

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