March 23, 2021 | 6 min read time

A year ago, the UK was hurtling towards lockdown and everything changed for everyone. However, some industries were hit particularly hard, and those looking to launch new careers in the hardest-hit industries were stopped in their tracks. To alleviate these impacts, a group of leading designers and design business influencers have come together with a pledge to ‘save the future of the industry’. 

Launched on March 8th 2021, The Design Community Hub, is an initiative which is providing a platform of support and guidance for both new designers trying to enter the industry and the many, especially junior, designers who have been furloughed or lost their job over the past 12 months. 

According to its mission statement, the digital portal seeks to “keep the industry alive for a more creative future”.

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A flourishing industry hit hard

As a digital agency with creativity at its heart, it has been truly painful to experience and witness the effects of Covid-19. According to the Creative Industries Federation, the UK’s creative sector was growing at five times the rate of the wider economy, employing over 2 million people and contributing £111.7 billion to the economy – more than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences and oil and gas industries combined. 

But then the pandemic hit and the creative industries were projected to lose 406,000 (one in five) jobs and £74 billion in revenue (-30%). With projected creative industries GVA to fall by £29 billion (-25%), the creative industries are looking at being hit twice as hard as the wider UK economy.* 

What can we do?

The Design Community Hub was borne as a direct result of a question posed during a Design Business Association webinar late last year about what the design community could be doing to help college graduates and young designers whose career progression had been stalled by Covid-19.

Attendees from the webinar became founding members. The webinar panel consisted of Jonathan Sands OBE, Chairman at Elmwood; Tim Greenhalgh, Chief Creative Office at Landor + Fitch; and Deborah Dawton, CEO at the Design Business Association.

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Problems lead to solutions, questions lead to actions:

Callum Lumsden, Founder and Creative Director of Lumsden, asked the question: “What can we do? Shouldn’t we be collectively looking to help those generations who are, let’s face it, our future?”

“Without new blood, our industry can’t exist. Design relies on fresh creativity to add to the mix. To challenge what we see and push creative boundaries harder. If the industry doesn’t see the impact in the short-term, it will in the long-term. We can’t leave new designers out in the cold.”

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Challenges have always been there, but now they're harder to overcome

One of the challenges for new designers is "getting a foot in the door" to the design industry, which has always been tricky unless they have contacts or financial support. This challenge has been exacerbated by the impacts of the pandemic.

The Design Community Hub aims to level the playing field by granting easy access to portfolio workshops and reviews; mentoring and short-term internships; events in design studios (when Government Guidance allows), and even the opportunity for young-designers to experience first-hand projects by working on smaller clients, with the support of senior leads.

It will be there to support all designers, new, young and established in maintaining the skill set required for the challenges of the world design. A cause we can certainly get behind.

 

#TheLeastWeCanDo

Jonathan Sands, OBE and Chairman of Elmwood, whose creative team also created the brand for the Design Community Hub, making the most of the word ‘unity’ in Community, said: “We don’t want to miss out on outstanding portfolios of future design industry stars. Without the new raft, we’re seriously at threat of missing out on a huge pool of exciting talent. 

“We may not see it immediately as many agencies are heavily relying on more senior designers who don’t need so much hand-holding, but we will see the impact in the future. By sharing our knowledge on what we’re looking for in portfolios, how to approach agencies, how to stand out and get that first all-important job, it’s the least we can do, from an industry we’ve thrived in.”

Tim Greenhalgh, Chief Creative Officer at Landor & Fitch said: “We have to find a way of helping the next generation keep the flame of creativity and curiosity alive and bright. Now more than ever we need to come together and look out for each other."

"This generation are not generic Covennials or Quaranteens…they’re designers and we should help them define and express themselves and DCH provides just such a platform of hope and encouragement supported by one of the most dynamic and inventive industries in the world.” 

 

The Design Community Hub has pledged quite simply:

  1. Until we can offer roles - share experience
  2. Until we can hire more designers - help them develop;
  3. Until we can build careers - build the community.  

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This pledge is wonderfully simple and clear, but it will need support from the wider community. Deborah Dawton, Chief Executive at the Design Business Association said: “We are initially funding via the DBA membership and asking our members to show their support. The first funding is to allow for a full-time project manager, but we hope to grow as more agencies and other design organisations lend their support to the scheme and our ambition to support people in more ways grows alongside this, to be the first port of call for new designers seeking their first job.”

“For the UK to continue to lead the world in design, it’s essential we don’t lose out on new talent. The DCH is one way we can support and give back to the industry that we all love, by making it easier for creatives to follow their passion and to get into their dream career.” 

The not-for-profit Design Business Association is also providing support to the new venture by overseeing all financial aspects of the DCH as a charitable business.

To support the talent that drives our industry, the DCH are asking for donations as little as £100. Small money for industry budgets – but added together it will certainly be a transformative sum. Those who support financially will be uniting the design community and supporting the needs of some, through the generosity of others, for the good of the entire design community, through the development of the hub, and the ability to keep access free and open to everyone who needs it.

Funding everything over the next few years will enable the DCH to grow and continue running and adapting the platform, as well as run future events, and bringing ideas from the community to life.

"Your support will help people whose careers should be thriving, not on hold."

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Bringing community to the DCH 

The Design Community Hub has surrounded itself with a core team of key design industry figures to get the initiative up and running in less than 3 months since the first founders meeting to agree the purpose of the initiative and the best approach to support the designers whose careers have been curtailed due to the economic crisis created by the pandemic. 

The brand has been designed by Elmwood; with the digital strategy created and led by Clare Jones, a leading digital expert in the design sector; and Phil Jones, founder of Podge, one of industry’s leading networking events for senior leaders.

Other partners have included ourselves, Wonderful, who have been honoured to bring the platform to life through our web design, UX and development solutions

Off to a great start... 

The Design Community Hub has only just launched, but initial interest and support has been phenomenal, with day 1 media coverage including Design Week, Sky News, Jazz FM and a range of industry news sites.

 

We're incredibly proud to be supporting this valuable platform and are looking forward to playing our part in the community. 

Visit thedesigncommunityhub.com/ for more information, and to get involved. 

 


*Source: The Creative Industries Federation – June 2020 Report “The Projected Economic Impact of Covid-19 on the UK Creative Industries” 

Hui Doggett
Hui is Wonderful's Executive Assistant, but her remit stretches so much further than that, with creative talents across a range of disciplines. Hui is behind the co-ordination & editing of The Wonderful People Podcast and helped it be what it is today.

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