plain polo shirts Formulating national design policies in the United States
This article was a response to the publication on 5 January 2009 of the American Design Communities’ Redesigning America’s Future: 10 Design Policy Proposals for the United States of America’s Economic Competitiveness and Democratic Governance. Analysis is made of the extent to which self confident, yet historically very familiar, assertions about the capacity of design to engender real change in national and international settings stand up to serious scrutiny. It is argued that such reiteration is more a reflection of an underlying desire to effect transformation than any comprehensive articulation of a series of well researched arguments that would, in reality, engender significant change. Indeed, if the document’s propositions show little that is new, those designers, design historians and others with a longitudinal perspective of design activity and policy making may see these ‘Design Policy Proposals’ as reminiscent of the ‘Emperor’s new clothes’ or, if viewed more positively, their recycled equivalents. design bodies to be ‘revitalized as a collective voice for the design community’ was perhaps one of the reasons why the American Design Communities’ traditional, conservative and innocuous proposals were largely framed in twentieth century thinking. As such they emphasized the priorities of the design profession rather than those of society as a whole. In fact,
at the original National Design Policy Summit in Washington DC on 11 12th November 2008, the Ten Principles of Design’s Necessity used to frame discussions were 35 years old, echoing down the decades from the First Federal Design Assembly of 1973. National Design Policy Summit of 19 January. Summit’s key participants responsible for drafting the policy proposals amounted to seven representatives from design professional organizations, four representatives of design and design education accreditation bodies and four representatives drawn from US federal agencies, a questionable cross section for devising an attractive or effective design policy reflecting the aspirations of American society as a whole. Although some acknowledgement of the work of other design promotion organizations around the world was acknowledged in the documentation for the November 2008 Washington DC Design Summit, there was little obvious influence in the ensuing Design Policy Proposals, other than a commitment to commission the equivalent of the British Cox Review of Creativity in Business (2005), published by the Design Council. This is carefully analyzed in this article, both in the context of emergent policies for the cultural and creative industries in Britain in the previous decade and also the suggestion that a number of Cox’s findings were, in a number of respects, outdated by the time of their publication.