Rewiring the Corporate Process

An interesting article in Design Week (9th March 2006) examines Richard Seymour and â??Peter Savilleâ?? as two designers no longer ‘designing’, but looking at design from a ‘strategic’ point of view, (or strategy from a design point of view, if you prefer).

As a ‘creative consultant’ Saville has been drafted in to M&C Saatchi to re-invigorate the tired team format of art director and copywriter, and Seymour is now consultant to Unilever, trying to understand how to ‘re-wire the corporate process’.

Design as strategy has been flavour of the month (in the press at least) since Hillary Cottram won the Designer of the Year award for her strategy work with the NHS, and there have been various subsequent actions and reactions, calling for ‘designers’ to re-claim their territory, as if they owned or controlled it in the first place. Maybe time could be more productivly spent identifying what constitutes ‘good’ design across all areas rather than indulging in parochial boundary drawing, tagging and naming.

The fact that Saville has been flagged up as a designer/strategist is interesting, as his working methods, (or what we know of them) would seem to reside more in the realms of designer as enlightened author and originater (the flavour of the month a few years ago), rather than facilitator or researcher with ability to understand a breadth of design issues and deal with their complexity. Maybe it is the case that he will just turn up and M&C’s every once in a while and tell them what he thinks, and maybe M&C are happy enough just to bask in his reflective glory for as long as he lets them. To give him his due, Saville insists that it is not a ‘real job’.

And to further add to his praise, the article flags up the fantastic news that his ‘brand’ work with the city of Manchester will not result in a slogan or logo. Instead the approach is purely strategic – Saville is now in consultation with a range of organisations to inculcate the values of this original and contemporary thinking into the various activities of the city. An Offbrand approach to a Brand brief.

‘People often ask, “Why not create a logo and a strapline for Manchester?” I don’t see the point of it at all. The very prescence of a strapline indicates failure of some sort. If you’ve got a slogan it suggests you need one and if you need one, it says you’ve got a problem.’

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