The first Design Council Forum of nearly 100 leaders in design, business, government and education has cautiously agreed that government should have a design strategy. However, today's lively debate at the Design Council concluded that what is needed first is a clear vision - developed collaboratively by the design sector, business, education and others - for Britain's aspirations as a design-led nation, encompassing quality of life and education.
The Forum used electronic voting to accurately assess opinion on a variety of questions which developed out of the original debate motion; "Should government have a design strategy?" which was supported by key speakers Tim Bradshaw Head of Enterprise and Innovation, CBI and Ruth Reed recent President of RIBA. It was opposed by Ben Page Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI and Laura Haynes President of Design Business Association. The motion was passed narrowly at the end of the debate with 54.2% in favour and 45.8% against.
However, the debate had started out with 71.8% in favour of a design strategy and what emerged during the discussion was a strong feeling that any strategy should come after the development of an integrated vision for Britain as a design-led nation - 75% were in favour when asked the question "Does the UK need an integrated design vision first?" There was clear agreement that any strategy should be joined up across all government departments, be actionable, specific, and encompass government procurement as well as other levers outside government for delivering the vision.
The debate also identified that more focus needs to be placed on building the evidence for the positive effects of a design as part of a concerted campaign to improve the perception and understanding of design at the highest levels of government.