Monday, June 20, 2005

Non-Designer of the Year

Last week the Design Museum in London bestowed Hilary Cottam with their prestigious "Designer of the Year" Award. A huge backlash and backlash to the backlash ensued. Why?

Because Ms. Cottam is not actually a designer. Rather, she is a member of the "design bureaucracy" as some critics have described. Cottam actually heads up the Design Council's red team - a thinktank that explores solutions to social and economic problems through design. The prize was mostly awarded for the Kingsdale building, a re-invented old school building. However, she didn't even design the building (nor does she claim to have) and the team that DID design the building is feeling somewhat overlooked.

Is this a case of the "design bureaucracy" taking credit for designers work? Or is it a sign that the cult-like status that some high-level designers have enjoyed is coming to an end?

Being an outsider, I don't really have the authority to comment. But it certainly doesn't sound like Ms. Cottam is lacking in recognition for her work - considering she is probably the face of most of the projects she works on among big donors and government officials. At the same time, maybe the outcry is more about the particular case, and not the idea of a non-designer winning the Design Award. But who knows. It certainly is an interesting and controversial case that touches on a lot of issues in the design world.

Read more at Archinect.

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