As the UK reaches the one-year anniversary of the first lockdown, a group of leading designers and design business influencers have grouped together with a pledge to ‘save the future of the industry’.
Launching today, March 22nd, the Design Community Hub, is an initiative to provide a platform of support and guidance for both new designers trying to enter the industry and the many, especially junior, designers who have been furloughed or lost their job over the last year.
A flourishing industry hit hard
The UK’s creative sector was, until the pandemic hit, growing at five times the rate of the wider economy, employing over 2 million people and contributing £111.7 billion to the economy – more than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences and oil and gas industries combined (according to the Creative Industries Federation).
Yet, the with the impact of Covid-19, creative industries were projected to lose 406,000 (one in five) jobs and £74 billion in revenue (-30%). With projected creative industries GVAto fall by £29 billion (-25%), the creative industries are looking at being hit twice as hard as the wider UK economy*.
What can we do?
A question posed during a Design Business Association webinar late last year about what the design community could be doing to help college graduates and young designers whose career progression had been stalled by Covid-19 led directly to the formation of the new Design Community Hub, with attendees from the webinar becoming founding members.
The webinar panel consisted of Jonathan Sands OBE, Non Executive Director at Elmwood and Chairman of Born Ugly; Tim Greenhalgh, Chief Creative Office at Landor + Fitch; and Deborah Dawton, CEO at the Design Business Association.
A question leads to action
The question was asked by Callum Lumsden, Founder and Creative Director of Lumsden, a leading expert on retail design for visitor attractions, who said: “I thought it was an important question to ask of some of the UK’s most respected design figures. What can we do? Shouldn’t we be collectively looking to help those generations who are, let’s face it, our future?”
“Without new blood, our industry can’t exist. Design relies on fresh creativity to add to the mix. To challenge what we see and push creative boundaries harder. If the industry doesn’t see the impact in the short-term, it will in the long-term. We can’t leave new designers out in the cold.”
Foot in the door
Getting a foot in the door to the design industry has always been a challenge for new designers, unless they have contacts or financial support.
The Design Community Hub aims to create a more level playing field by granting easy access to portfolio workshops and reviews; mentoring and short-term internships; events in design studios when allowed, and even the opportunity for young-designers to experience first-hand projects by working on smaller clients, with the support of senior leads. It will be there to support all designers, new, young and established in maintaining the skill set required for the challenges of the world design.
“It’s the least we can do”
Jonathan Sands, OBE, Non Executive Director Elmwood and Chairman of Born Ugly, whose creative team also created the brand for the Design Community Hub, making the most of the word ‘unity’ in Community, said: “We don’t want to miss out on outstanding portfolios of future design industry stars. Without the new raft, we’re seriously at threat of missing out on a huge pool of exciting talent.
“We may not see it immediately as many agencies are heavily relying on more senior designers who don’t need so much hand-holding, but we will see the impact in the future. By sharing our knowledge on what we’re looking for in portfolios, how to approach agencies, how to stand out and get that first all-important job, it’s the least we can do, from an industry we’ve thrived in.”
Tim Greenhalgh, Chief Creative Officer at Landor & Fitch said: “We have to find a way of helping the next generation keep the flame of creativity and curiosity alive and bright. Now more than ever we need to come together and look out for each other. This generation are not generic Covennials or Quaranteens…they’re designers and we should help them define and express themselves and DCH provides just such a platform of hope and encouragement supported by one of the most dynamic and inventive industries in the world.”
Deborah Dawton, Chief Executive at the Design Business Association said: “For the UK to continue to lead the world in design, it’s essential we don’t lose out on new talent. The DCH is the way we can support that talent and give back to the industry that we all love, by making it easier for creatives to follow their passion and to get into their dream career.”
“We are starting the fundraising by asking DBA members to show their support so that we can get a project manager in place. As more agencies and other design organisations lend their support to the scheme, it is our ambition to support people in more ways and to be the first port of call for new designers seeking their first job.”
The not-for-profit Design Business Association is also providing support to the new venture by overseeing all financial aspects of the DCH as a not-for-profit business.
Bringing community to the DCH
The Design Community Hub has surrounded itself with a core team of key design industry figures to get the initiative up and running in less than 3 months since the first founders meeting to agree the purpose of the initiative and the best approach to support the designers whose careers have been curtailed due to the economic crisis created by the pandemic.
The brand has been designed by Elmwood, with the digital strategy created and led by Clare Jones, a leading digital expert in the design sector. Other partners to the launch include Phil Jones, founder of Podge, one of industry’s leading networking events for senior leaders, and the agencies Wonderful, 2LK and Reed Words, who all bring their expertise to the project, with design PR specialist Red Setter, leading on awareness and reputation building.
The Design Community Hub will be using the networking platform Guild as its core channel to build and maintain connections.
Visit www.thedesigncommunityhub.com for more information.
Source: The Design Community Hub