So here we are again, facing another challenge to the design industry’s prowess in identity design.
As things stand, the search for a logo to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 will not involve D&AD or even the Design Council. Instead, legendary BBC kid’s programme Blue Peter will be the conduit for entries – and they won’t come from seasoned creatives, but from three categories of children aged between six years and 14. We’re unlikely to see an icon of the calibre of Abram Games’ seminal Festival of Britain logo to emerge.
So what does this say for the British establishment? It suggests it is taking the fashionable notion of crowd-sourcing – surely another name for free-pitching – to its limits, elevating what might otherwise have been a fun school exercise into a real proposition.
The London Olympics organisers made a half attempt to ‘democratise’ design its trawl for the bid logo – at least won by a design group in that instance. The Royal Mint, meanwhile, seems bent on a course of ‘public’ design – though again the coins by designer Matt Dent went on to win, not just the contest, but a D&AD 2009 Black Pencil too.
There’s little hope of that happening with the Diamond Jubilee – unless, of course, a creative prodigy is unearthed in the way you could say Design Museum director and world-class design commentator Deyan Sudjic was first ‘recognised’ through his teenage involvement in the controversial Schoolkids issue of Oz published in 1970 by the ‘underground’ magazine. The exercise involves school students not the public at large.
The message for the design community is more telling though. We are not short of the talent, wit and sensitivity it takes to get this sort of job done, but we lack leadership as an industry and champions strong enough to argue our case from within or outside our community. We plainly have no serious lobbyists at a time when politics is all.
A few years ago the design community had caught the attention of the royals sufficiently for the Queen to host a star-studded reception at Buckingham Palace for designers of all disciplines. We never quite knew what prompted a very enjoyable evening, but it is clearly a contact we in the industry didn’t nurture sufficiently to enable us to be seen as a professional force.
The links between design and the royals are stronger than that though. Prince Albert aside, the Duke of Edinburgh has been ‘one of us’ for years. His patronage of bodies such as the Chartered Society of Designers and the prestigious Prince Philip Designer’s Prize, the 51st recipient of which will be named next week, are far more than ceremonial duties for him.
We need to change this scenario pretty quickly. Though events such as the Olympic Games and a royal jubilee are, in many ways, fleeting festivities all eyes will be on the UK momentarily in 2012. And where will design be? – represented by Big Society manifestations is where.