Monthly Archives: April 2011

The next generation Design Council

On 1 April 2011 the British Design Council merged with CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment). The merge was a result of the UK Government’s review of public bodies in a bid to cut public spending.

Just today the Design Council published on its website a joint vision it now shares CABE stating that together they will bring a stronger voice to architecture and design and endeavour to “put design at the heart of Britain’s social and economic renewal.”

Cover of the Design Council and CABE’s vision document.
Click to download a pdf

While changes take place, the next generation Design Council will no doubt continue as a source of design inspiration and knowledge around the world.

It was in 2002 that I first became aware of the Design Council. I have a particular Creative Director to thank for this because knowing of the Design Council significantly shaped my journey in design over the past 9 years.

Since 2002 I have followed the activities of the Design Council. They have been an international leader and pioneer in providing designers and design companies unprecedented opportunities to show their value and potential in a broad range of contexts.

I was so inspired by the work of the Design Council that for my final year major project in my Bachelor of Design (Visual Communication) degree at UTS (University of Technology Sydney) I created a hypothetical Design Council for Australia (or ‘DC of A’ as my friend Ben nicknamed it).

Design Council of Australia logo I developed in 2002

At the time I had a huge interest in the intersection of design and business. My hypothetical DC of A would be a body that would inform business organisations about design. In my research, I discovered that the George Bernard Shaw quote “England and America are two countries separated by a common language” could not be more accurate when trying to bring design and business together. The disciplines have very different vocabularies, and this often impedes the potential for them to work well together. The DC of A would endeavour to bridge this divide by speaking to business about the value of design.

The first step in creating a DC of A was to raise its awareness among business and the public. For my major project I created a series of billboard advertisements that played on common vocabularies of design and business. Here are some examples.

‘Zero point 2-5’ billboard was part of an awareness campaign
for the Design Council of Australia

‘The right portfolio’ billboard was part of an awareness campaign
for the Design Council of Australia

After my Bachelor of Design at UTS I went to study a Master of Business (at Sydney University). When I was at Business School I found many spaces for design but it was challenging to bridge that divide in a few essays and a dissertation. Even more challenging was to align business thinkers with design. I did end up working in the area of organisational innovation post-Masters degree, but the Design Council led me to another area that I was, and still am, keen to explore.

Since 2007 I have worked with the Design Council undertaking academic research to help understand better new areas of design, namely that of designing services in the public and social sectors. The Design Council had run the design innovation program, Dott 07 (Designs of the Time 2007), and for the past 4 years I have been looking at Dott 07 investigating what designers have been doing in the context of using design to address social, economic and environmental issues.

Today, my research and journey with design continues, raising new questions, new contexts and new insights into the potential for design. I will certainly be following the next generation of the Design Council (you can too at their website, on Twitter or Facebook) as its continues inspiring and widening the role and influence of design, not just in the UK, but also the world.


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