Design underinvests in its people

This article was published in Design Week’s supplement on Continuing Professional Development (May 6th), and can be downloaded from the DW website.

Does the design industry actually need to take training so seriously? After all, design studios are innovative and creative hothouses full of naturally inquisitive and adaptive people who never stop learning and thinking. Everything they do deepens their professional experience and quality of work. We learn on the job, that’s all there is to it.

This sounds like a nice theory but the fact is it doesn’t add up in practice. At the end of the day, all the evidence suggests design groups just aren’t doing enough to train their staff. In fact, design consultancies Continue reading


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The real digital election just began

Despite predictions that this would be the first truly digital election, it really hasn’t felt like it. Facebook managed to recruit the young vote, but there was no Obama-like swelling of the ranks, nor any great campaigning moments for any party. Claims yesterday that the Conservatives had stolen the social media high ground by buying YouTube’s homepage for the day, frankly, felt pretty thin.

But today, as the country and its elected representatives sit in some sort of electoral purdah, the BBC is reporting unprecedented web traffic to its UK news site. We just can’t get enough.

As I sit typing here at 1.19pm, the country sits glued to the networks, waiting for the last 25 of the 650 parliamentary seats to be called, knowing no single party can form a majority on its own. While MPs bargain behind Whitehall’s closed doors the real digital election is happening now, on the broadcasts, posts and chat of the post-election news sites – BBC, ITV, and Sky.

Media owners understand that the race is still on to break the hottest political story since the Obama victory – that someone, we don’t quite know who, will manage to wrestle up a UK coalition government worthy of its own 24 hour news channel for the short time it must surely last.

Mike Exon

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Design Industry Insights 2010

Design Industry Insights 2010 is finally here. Following an ambitious canvassing of business opinion in the design industry at the end of last year, the Design Council’s research team invited me to edit a 28-page supplement that would give voice to the views of jobbing design professionals and try to make sense of the currents shaping the industry’s future.

The editorial strategy has been to create something readable, conversational, visual and easy to digest, which breaks the DC style guide in two but still hits its key Continue reading

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The Big ‘D’ Questions for 2010

In Design Week’s ‘Vision 2010’ supplement this week, I’m asking what does the year ahead hold for design-led businesses grappling with the transfer to digital.

Looking back, 2009 was another rollercoaster year for digitalists. As digital media helped deliver a US president in January, uncovered evidence of G20 police brutality in April and put the spotlight on suppressed Iranian election protests in June, the world held its breath.

Continue reading

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Eurostar V Rage

It’s been a big weekend for web enriched news. We had the trapped passengers on Eurostar story being played out on Twitter via #eurostarfail, then there was Rage Against the Machine upsetting the X-Factor Christmas number one push thanks to an online campaign, plus continuing reports of regime opposition in Iran Continue reading

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Online don’t mean for free

Photo by PaidContent, from

Content is king. Content is dead. Content is free. No way.

Get used to the idea that you won’t just be paying for books online, but new stuff that’s a bit richer than what you get for free already.

We buy MP3 downloads no problem there, and we don’t seem to mind buying Apps from the Appstore because they’re better than all the free stuff you find online. Fine. The question is what else would you pay for? Continue reading

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The Marc Newson lecture, V&A, London.

It clashed badly with Neville Brody’s D&AD lecture (sorry Adrian), but Marc Newson’s Q&A at the V&A raised some nice big teasers for the design world, many worthy of remembering.

Interviewed fluently if a little lightly by the great Chris Frayling, Newson displayed the mark of the international designer who has thrown of the shackles of his Australian birthplace to make the world his home Continue reading

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