This is a great time for global Industrial Design

A vision for a better future.

This is a great time for global Industrial Design. More and more organisations look to our profession to deliver innovation with great human experiences.

The opportunity for a higher profile sets new challenges for the UK’s Industrial Designers, some of which can only be addressed acting collectively.

BIDA is the only UK organisation focused exclusively on the needs of product, service and interaction designers in consultancy, in-house and academia. Our objective is to offer a voice for practising professionals, by practising professionals, supporting effective collective action where it is wanted.

BIDA is a unique organisation focussed on the unique needs of a unique profession.

In some respects we are similar to the IDSA in America.  We are more focused than the CSD and the Design Council. We complement the Design Business Association (DBA) and collaborate extensively with them, for example on ID award categories in the Design Effectiveness Awards. We also complement and collaborate with the Institute of Engineering Designers (IED), for example by working with them on a communication program to clarify how the roles of Industrial Designer and Design Engineer complement each other in modern collaborative innovation best practice.

So what have we been up to on behalf of members? Here is just a sample of recent efforts:

ID has evolved, but members and government have been concerned that it’s formal definitions haven’t. This has been a big block to progress in many areas. So BIDA, advised by Creative and Cultural Skills, led a national engagement process resulting in formal UK Skills Council ratification of a new National Occupational Standard (NOS) for Industrial Design. This has renewed the UK’s global thought leadership credentials by capturing the human behaviour focus of ID in terms that reflects the modern extended scope of ID across product, interaction and service design. This is the foundations for much needed reform in many areas.

Members tell us they are undervalued because, unlike engineers, they don’t have meaningful professional credentials. So BIDA has created a new accreditation option for members and member teams, based on the new NOS. 

We have deliberately designed this unique system to encourage creativity, welcome innovative and different approaches.  Accreditation and standards are rightly treated with caution by people to who innovate.  This is a unique and new opportunity to demonstrate creative professionalism and achievement - not a tick-box exercise.

For the first time, just like in the US, UK Industrial Designers can be professionals without being engineers or just generic ‘designers’, a broad term with no professional meaning. 

Our Employer Members are concerned about the quality of graduates and our Academic Members are keen to build closer links with the design industry to ensure the employability of their graduates, so BIDA has created a dedicated ‘academic lead’ role on the national board and elected Stephen Green of Brunel to the post. The BIDA group Stephen leads is the UK’s only formal Industry/University collaboration forum.

BIDA’s priority is to champion the excellent ID courses doing a great job. So we have recently commissioned a survey to identify the UK ‘top five’ as voted by ID professionals. Equally we have helped Consultancy Members to overturn innovation grant funding decisions based on unfair competition practices by a minority of Universities.

Innovate UK have recently made some important directional changes and want to get more Industrial Designers involved in early stage funded innovation projects. We are working with them to ensure the planned engagements make commercial sense and help them connect with the UK’s ID professional’s in a more cost efficient way.

Although we have no promotion budget yet, our website is still also in the top 5 responses to Google searches for ‘Industrial Design UK’ . Our member’s websites are then only a few clicks away via the BIDA directory.

As the acknowledged ‘front door’ of UK ID we also collect regular leads which are passed on openly to all members, without filtering. Most recently we invited interested members to join a shortlist that we submitted for work on the HS2 rail project.

BIDA is a ’not for profit’ organisation, governed by an elected board of volunteers with strict limits on tenure. In order to keep our fees to a minimum we run extremely low overheads compared with all the other design bodies, even though unlike some of them, our funding depends entirely on the contributions of our members.

There is much more that needs doing, from professional development training to more beer nights. It’s simple, the more of you that join us, the more we can do for you and your profession.

BIDA can help you achieve more as a professional and gives you means to make a real difference to the future direction and value perception of Industrial Design.

So please don’t sit on the side-lines, visit www.britishindustrialdesign.org.uk and join us, then get involved, get on our linked-in group and tell us how you think collective representation can help you. If you are really passionate, apply to set up a special interest group on an issue that matters to you, or put yourself forward for election to the national board next year.

Architects, Design Engineers, and U.S. Industrial Designers, already get it – it’s not just about struggling to get the next job it’s about elevating the profession.

We will be holding our annual general meeting in the autumn. Feel free to come along and have a chat with existing members.

In the meantime, if you have any questions email us via the contact section on the website.

We thank you in advance for your support

Steve May-Russell, Les Stokes, Phil Gray, Stephen Green, Alistair Williamson and Gus Desbarats

Your colleagues, currently serving on the board