Leslie Budd on... design

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From outside the Design Museum in London, Leslie Budd looks at the celebration of design in Britain, past and future. He suggests design can help economy growth in the aftermath of a global recession.

By: Dr Leslie Budd (Department for Public Leadership and Social Enterprise)

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Copyright The Open University


Copyright The Open University


Here at the Design Museum, we witness the pre-eminence of design in Britain’s past and its future.  But this public celebration of design begs the question whether it’s now central to the regeneration and re-engineering of a modern economy in the aftermath of the global recession.  In the last decade there’s been unprecedented economic growth, but we now know this was partly created by a financial bubble.

As many advanced economies move away from engineering and manufacturing, can design come to their aid in rebalancing and regenerating their economies?  This is a lesson learned by many emerging economies as they seek to go along a different development path.  In Shanghai, we see high-speed magnetic levitation trains and a design that was invented in Britain.  Clive Sinclair’s C5 electric tricycle was ridiculed when it was first launched in 1985, but its design lives on in the electric cars of today.

Perhaps we’ve all been seduced or distracted by the knowledge economy.  The bottom line is we should dispense with the nonsense in the knowledge economy and acclaim the design economy in which nuts and bolts and widgets of the old combine with the new.  

That’s my view.  You can join the debate with The Open University.