Mandelson pressed to push design

Former Design Council chairman Sir George Cox is urging Peter Mandelson to encourage the public sector to ‘use more design’ and ‘take action to rebuild the economy’.

Cox, author of 2005’s Cox Review of Creativity in Business, has welcomed Mandelson’s surprise appointment as Business Secretary in last week’s Cabinet reshuffle.

‘Few ministers have shown any passion for this job in the past, but Mandelson was enthusiastic when he held the post [of Trade Secretary in 1998]. He wants to get things done, and has a strong history with design,’ Cox tells Design Week.

Mandelson spoke about the role of design in creating a knowledge economy at the opening of this year’s London Design Festival last month.

Cox continues, ‘The Government has to use design to solve problems. If it were a better user of design across health, transport and education, it would stimulate the design industry and produce better products and services in the public sector.’

Mandelson has resigned twice from Cabinet posts, and has previously served as Minister Without Portfolio in the Cabinet Office, Trade Secretary and Northern Ireland Secretary.

Another move made in the reshuffle last week that could influence design policy was the appointment of Barbara Follett as Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism Minister. Follett replaces Margaret Hodge, who has been a controversial figure in the architecture world because of her perceived negative stance towards Modernism.

‘Follett is very well-qualified, having been at the heart of London cultural life for years,’ says a Design Council spokeswoman.

Lord Paul Drayson is replacing Ian Pearson as Innovation Minister, while Pearson moves to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

The Design Council believes that Drayson ‘is sure to get on with’ its new deputy chief executive David Godber, both having a keen interest in motor racing. Godber was formerly Nissan Design Europe’s general manager, while Drayson resigned from an unpaid Government post last year to compete in the Le Mans race.

Design Council chief executive David Kester welcomes former Business Minister Drayson’s appointment, claiming he ‘knows the value innovation can deliver to business, and the central role that good design plays in that process’.

The Design Council will work with Follett on the implementation of the Government’s Creative Britain strategy.

Design posts following the reshuffle

• Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform – Peter Mandelson

• Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism Minister – Barbara Follett

• Innovation Minister – Lord Paul Drayson

• Under-Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform – Ian Pearson

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