‘You need good politicians for funding’

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Published in Economy & Politics by

‘I believe designers have a huge amount to offer in understanding how human beings work, what their motivations are, and how we can nudge pro-social behaviour and boost the economy at the same time’, David Kester said last week in Amsterdam.

David Kester, former head of the UK’s Design Council spoke at WDCD13 and will act as moderator at WDCD14. Last week he was in Amsterdam to give a master class for journalists and designers organized by the Sandberg Institute and the Dutch Cultural Media Fund in cooperation with WDCD. In the Sandberg@Media Fund program entitled ‘Quantified Reality: a story between data, power and reality’ journalists and designers work together exploring new models for documentary making.

In the evening, Kester was the guest of WDCD at a special event in the Stadsschouwburg. He presented several cases of design interventions the Design Council initiated to counter infections in hospitals and improve the lives of people suffering from dementia.

In the following interview Kester revealed how the money for these projects was obtained directly from the government. ‘Just as with really good business project, in design you need to have good politicians who are willing to take some risks,’ Kester explained. ‘For each project we would find us a lead minister. The way we pitched a project like this, was that we said: We think this is a new way to bring solutions to a given problem, for instance dementia. And we also said: We have no idea where this will lead to, but here are some examples of interesting projects from around the world. The UK seems to be lagging behind in this field, while with all the professional skill we have here we should be in the forefront. Every single time we did this it worked.’

Another important lesson from Kester was that the Design Council, financed itself by the Ministry of Business, never took promotion of design as the starting point. ‘We just said: look there are some very clever people who do amazing things and tend to use all their skills to transform situations in industry and business, so that they sell more.’

Top image: easy to clean hospital bedside furniture developed together with Bristolmaid

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