The council is seeking a consultancy to create a ‘worldclass’ identity for the Library of Birmingham, due to open in 2013, as part of a contract worth £30 000.
But concerns have been raised about the amount of free creative work asked for at the initial stage. Consultancies are asked to provide logo and identity design proposals, rationale for logo and identity, conceptual derivatives of the identity as a sub-brand, application of design in context, and a proposal for a photographic style and language.
Maria Bez, business development manager at Bath-based Northbank Design, says, ‘We won’t be able to go for it – it’s so much work. It’s a very one-dimensional approach for the council to take.’
Ashley Goodall, managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi Design, which produced the brand guidelines document that was sent to interested consultancies, says the consultancy was not involved in formulating the tender, adding, ‘We are in the same boat as every other consultancy, and we will be responding to the brief in the same way as everyone else.’
A spokesman for Birmingham City Council says, ‘It is not unusual with a contract of this size and high profile for us to ask for initial concept ideas to be presented as part of the initial tender submissions.’
The Birmingham tender comes a month after the Greater London Authority was criticised for asking for unpaid creative work in the first round of a competition to find new branding for London (DW 3 September).
Speaking in the wake of the London identity furore, Design Business Association chief executive Deborah Dawton said, ‘There is no point in gunning for one organisation, because the practice of free-pitching is rife. We should draw alongside Government to find a process that works for both.’
Dawton is working with the Associate Parliamentary Group for Design and Innovation, which will launch a report on public-sector design procurement on 11 November.
The report’s synopsis says, ‘Perhaps the clearest and least surprising discovery was that, in general, throughout the public sector, there is still a relatively limited understanding of what design means and what its value is.’
THE LIBRARY OF BIRMINGHAM:
- The new library will be situated on Centenary Square, between the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Baskerville House
- Design concepts by Dutch architect Mecanoo were unveiledin April (pictured)
- Birmingham City Council is seeking a visual identity for the library. It expects to appoint a consultancy in December, and hopes to launch the new identity early in 2010