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#BeyondCOVID Town Hall - EUK 05

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

#BeyondCOVID is the new mindset we have all had to adopt… how do we operate in this new changed state? I've gathered together some amazing Design Executives to share what they are doing now and in the coming months to survive and thrive in these difficult times.


William Knight - Director at The Renew Consultancy


Mark Bergin 00:00

Hi everyone, I'm Mark Bergin, the founder of DRIVENxDESIGN and joining me is Will Knight. Hi Will.

William Knight 00:06

Hi Mark, how are you doing?

Mark Bergin 00:07

Not bad. Now Will, you're just back from holidays as I think most people in the UK are, but yesterday was devastating news about the GDP figures in the UK.

William Knight 00:20

Yeah... Um, what can you say? It's unprecedented? I think the scale of what has happened with the economy is still to be understood. Unemployment figures are going to take a big shock later in the year as well. So, you know, we're slightly reeling, I would say.

Mark Bergin 00:41

Yeah. And now viewers, about a month ago in Hong Kong we started a program called Elevate Hope. And I'm going to be talking about that with you today. Hong Kong we know has had its challenges. It's had the COVID challenge, but it's also had other market challenges for the last 12 months and the UK has had both COVID and you've also got the Brexit challenges that have interrupted the flow of business. When I stood back with my Design Executive Club people around the world, we worked out that what seemed to be missing from everyone's world was hope. Hope is such an interesting thing for designers, because every design project is the manifestation of hope. And as designers we get hit really hard if hope isn't present in their world. So I thought, how can we have agency in some utility for design studios and design commissioners when it comes to helping to pump up the industry? So, we began this program called Elevate Hope. I have borrowed from TOMS shoes. With TOMS shoes, if you buy a pair of shoes they then make sure that another pair of shoes goes to some people who are in need. What I decided to do with the elevate program was people for every participating nomination that we've got, we - Will and myself and some others - will match that and will curate in and elevate some emergent designers. Now they may not be fresh out of university, or they may be, we don't know, that's yet to be seen. But what we want to do is get people who might not be actually in the awards this year and give them that boost, give them that hand up so that they're in a circle that shows respect for their work, and makes us all understand that there's something that we can do that is actually going to create goodwill, be generous, and hopefully, show that design has a substantial input into the UK economy. Will, how do you think we're going to go over the next couple of months trying to go find people? I've got no problem, you know, I keep finding projects everywhere that I want to go get into the awards. Are you a bit the same? Are you seeing fantastic work, but maybe people are a little bit reserved to come forward?

William Knight 02:58

Yeah, I mean, listen, there's an incredible talent pool here in London and in other parts of Europe as well. I think one of the challenges has been presenting that work, but it doesn't take too much digging on websites and looking at awards presentations, people that have been doing activity to promote their graduate talent. And then of course, you've got projects coming out to studios that are exactly as you say, they're they're pitched at progress. And I think really, identifying the talent and working with them really taps into a lot of the kind of conversations that have been happening. One of the things that I have been working on is just bringing the industry together to have a discussion on what we can do together to improve the situation. I think that the mood music is a much more kind of collective one. So I'm really looking forward to working with the industry and the Elevate Home program being being a valuable asset. Something that people can really kind of see the value of doing.

Mark Bergin 04:03

And and Viewers, over the over the last five months we've been pushing out these Town Halls. And I'm going to get the people, those design executive leaders that have been with us on that journey to pitch in, help in the curatorial process, that reach out, but also as a local jury. Many of you will have understood that the juries for DRIVENxDESIGN were coming from our global network. In this case, we need to go get some local action in here. So we'll be announcing in the next two weeks, who's on that local jury. But that's great news also, because it means that we've then got some local mentoring that can go on and what we're going to do for the people who win, we are going to make sure that they get a Design Executive Club membership for two years, and that they also get involved in the conversations and involved in that circle that they normally wouldn't be in. It's not to just go give somebody an award and a trophy in there to get them engaged. It's useful for people, I know in Hong Kong, the example was Hyatt Hotels, they need fresh designers to go help them refill out hotels all over the world. The same thing we know in London that there's people who need fresh talent that's coming through. And that talent spotlight, that's something that I do every day of the week, shining a spotlight on parts of design that's not seen. It is just natural for us. I'm quite excited then to have Will on the ground, and our other people in the UK, it is going to be great. The strange thing is I'm in Melbourne, Australia, and I can't even go five kilometres away from my home right now, let alone get on a plane and come over to you. So we're having to work out how to get through this a bit different. I hope that what we're going to do here with Elevate Hope will get us there. And from the nominations that we're already seeing in the London Design Awards, it's going to be a bumpy. Let's see if we can also make sure it's a bumpy that's full of hope and joy. Will, thank you so much for helping us. Your expertise with design dialogue and recently with the industry conversations you've been having there, with the work of design London or 100% design as it was back then, Dubai Design Week, you're the man, Clerkenwell, who knows everybody so that's gonna be really helpful for us. And there's also a way for suppliers to get involved and that actually drives us further. So if a studio puts in a nomination, we'll match it. If a supplier comes in and jumps on board at the silver level, we'll double what we would have been doing if we were with the studio. So there's lots of ways to get involved. The details are all going to be on the side here. Please, join us, make sure that we're in this together. We can help grow what is a fantastic industry, but not we're not growing the skill, it's the confidence and the understanding of the importance that design has in the market. Thank you for your time.

Hosted by: Mark Bergin

Podcast production: Pat Daly

Show notes: Lucy Grant

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