Small design consultancies are calling for training to help boost their chances of winning Olympic contracts ahead of the 2012 games.
Participants in a debate last week examining designers’ experiences of tendering for Olympic contracts complained that the system is bureaucratic and dehumanised. They are urging design bodies to put together an Olympics training programme. ‘I am as likely to run in the men’s 100m final as I am to do design work for London 2012,’ says Abrahams founder Mike Abrahams, revealing that his bid was turned down because his group’s turnover was below that demanded by the Olympic Delivery Authority.
Designers attending the breakfast meeting, organised by Designer Breakfasts and chaired by Williams Murray Hamm partner Richard Williams last Thursday, say they are perplexed by the level of detail about their diversity, environmental and health and safety credentials required during the pre-qualification tender stage.
‘You have to ask yourself if it’s worth the effort of bidding for an Olympic contract,’ says Williams, whose consultancy failed to get selected for an Olympics contract. ‘If there is any doubt in your mind, then don’t go through it.’
Tonkin Liu partner Anna Liu was present as a successful bidder for a 2012 design contract, having recently made it on to the shortlist to decorate bridges and underpasses in the Olympic Park (DW 21 August). Liu advises design groups to form consortiums to boost their chances of selection.
‘Be very specific about what sort of team you are going to need, and assemble it carefully,’ she advises. Liu also suggests communicating why you are interested in the project as early as possible.
In response to designers’ calls for training, Design Business Association chief executive Deborah Dawton says that although the DBA held a half-day procurement training session in June, such events yield low attendance figures. ‘We try to react to our members’ needs as quickly as possible,’ she says.
Dawton reveals that the DBA is to review the public procurement process ‘with a view to feeding recommendations about how to change the system back to the Government over the coming year’.
• Form consortiums with other groups to boost chances of selection in competitions
• Be specific about what team you need and assemble it carefully
• Communicate why you are interested in the project as early as possible in the application process
• Beware – details of diversity, environmental and health and safety credentials are required during the pre-qualification tender stage