Posted on 7th July 2010

Designs of the time

07/07/10Designs of the time

Designs of the time

Designs – The UK public will be given the chance to help design the places where they live, work and play – and the services they use – as part of a £50million, ten-year initiative to re-design the UK that begins in North East England in 2007.

A groundbreaking initiative unlike anything the UK has seen before, Dott [Designs of the time], created by the Design Council, will provide a unique opportunity for designers, businesses and public service organisations to engage with the public in practical explorations of the role that design can play in improving every aspect of people’s lives.

Every two years the Design Council will work with a UK region or nation to roll out an ambitious, year-long design programme. The aim each time will be to improve national life through design. The first Dott, in 2007, will be a partnership with One NorthEast, the regional development agency for North East England. It will have three distinct elements:

1. In Public Design Commissions, citizens will participate in the design process in a new and unprecedented way. Teams of designers will work with local communities to produce design solutions to a series of major public projects in partnership with local authorities, national government or public service providers, and private sector organisations. From an initial list of suggestions, North East England’s citizens and communities will vote to select the projects that will go forward through an innovative design process. A Creative Community Awards (already dubbed ‘The Commies’) will bring all these projects together towards the end of 2007.

2. An education programme will involve all age groups in a programme designed to help us explore how better to use design to improve aspects of daily life. Schools and colleges will partner with communities, and will also learn from the international experience of partners introduced to them by DoTT 07. Students and designers will go into factories and research laboratories to discover opportunities, and share ideas. The legacy of these projects will be a cadre of young people who have learned, by doing it, how to use design in new ways.

3. A programme of Design Showcase events, backed up by substantial resources, will enable each region or nation throughout each year-long initiative to commission projects that explore the past and the futures of design. Exhibitions and events will address the questions: How do we want to live? What services, places or products are needed to help us achieve that? Big ticket set-pieces will be co-produced by Dott with each region’ or nation’s main arts and culture organisations. Dott will connect local venues with the best producers of events from around the world. To complement these bigger events there will also be a challenge fund for micro-projects and first-time innovators.

A recent survey by the Design Council showed the British Public overwhelming supportive of design. 91% agreed that more money should be spent on the design of public services. 76% said that beneficial results could be achieved by incorporating design as a key consideration in schools, 79% in public transport, 80% in healthcare and 83% in recycling services.

David Kester, Chief Executive of the Design Council said: ‘Right now we are at the dawn of a new economic age with the renaissance of countries like China, the acceleration of technology and pressing global issues such as climate change. The economies that will thrive in these fast-changing times are those that can adapt and move quickly.

‘Design has a huge role to play in that evolution as the epicentre of ideas and creativity, driving new industries and innovation. Britain has a long tradition of creativity and entrepreneurialism, an international reputation for design and design education, and a scientific and technology base itching to be exploited.

‘Above all, we have a savvy public with an appetite for new ideas, and we must challenge design and designers to help us all to design our own future. The schools we build today must be the productive learning environments of tomorrow, our public services have to be more efficient, cost-effective and useful and the things with which we surround ourselves have to have increasingly less impact on our environment. Design has never been more important.’

Alan Clarke, Chief Executive of One NorthEast said: ‘We have a vision that North East England will establish itself as an internationally renowned design destination. We want to be recognised as a region where it is easy to turn ideas into business success, where innovation is unlocked, aspirations stimulated and productivity raised. The hosting of Dott in 2007 is a great opportunity for North East England and preparations are well underway for what is going to be a very exciting initiative for the region.’


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