Monday, 16 April 2012 14:43

Design Initiative closes after 20 years

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Design Show LiverpoolIt didn't come as news but Design Initiative have closed after 20 years of operation, all the staff left the Liverpool office some time ago and now it is Manchester's turn as the organisation closes completely.  Design Initive started in Liverpool and had some real success, and was a great resource for artists, designers and commissioners. At one point you couldn't start in business as a creative in Liveprool without first visiting LDI, they had access to information which would help you set up and survive that important first year of trading, but not only did it provide advice and guidance then came the workshops and exhibitions, some which drew the eyes of the national media to Liverpool. I remember well in the early years of LDI the BBC Design Awards exhibtion held at the now old but brand new at the time Alham Robarts Learning Resource Centre. Whatever became of Muriel Gray? 

It is hard to say what the first signs of the decline of Design Initiative were but I think they may have over reached when they tried to run activities across the whole of the North West plus afford the rent of two offices in Manchester and Liverpool, growing to fast without consolidating their foundations. However, in recent years it appeared to have a rennaisance with the annual Liverpool Design Festival but alas underneath it all it was not possible for them to afford two offices and at the end it had lost it's way, it's voice in the industry, in fact it had lost it's initiative.   Goodbye LDI I loved you so. 

Design Initiative Statement: 

It is with great sadness that we have to announce the closure of Design Initiative.

On 13th April, Design Initiative will be closed and will no longer be providing services or managing projects. Our Manchester and Liverpool offices will also be closed as of this date. Regrettably, and with immediate effect, our advice and information services will cease. Our website will no longer be updated and there will be no further bulletins issued to subscribers.

Our Find A Creative service will also close and unfortunately we will not be able to process any pending applications or profile updates. We regret any inconvenience this will cause to those awaiting approval of their profiles for the site and to those who may have recently updated their profile. Our Futures network news bulletins and website will also cease and no further updates will be made to the site. Social media presence on Twitter and Facebook will also be wound down.

We have completed our recent project work but we are particularly sad to announce that there are currently no plans to continue Liverpool Design Festival in 2012. We would like to thank you all for accessing, using and supporting these services. We hope they have proved beneficial to a great number of you in the North West and beyond. Thanks to all of you who have been involved directly in all the work we have done in the region for the last 20 years. We couldn't have done it without you.

The full statement from the Design Initiative Board about the closure is reproduced below:


Design Initiative, the regional design development agency that supports the design sector in the North West, has announced its closure on 13th April 2012. The decision results from the loss of funding from a number of sources over the past 12 months.

The organisation remains extremely proud of its achievements and the opportunities it has created for thousands of businesses in the region. Design Initiative has provided an active voice for the sector and through advocacy, information services and project management, has promoted the benefits of good design, worked with commissioners to secure work for designers and developed the infrastructure for design in the North West.

It can demonstrate an outstanding 20-year track record working directly with designers, artists and makers, the design industry, its customers, strategic local, regional and national bodies and education providers that has had a substantial impact on the growth and continued success of the design and contemporary craft sectors.

Since its inception, it has provided an information and advice service to a network that has grown to include 3000 members in the North West. Between 1992 and 2012, it directly assisted 2300 designers, makers and artists in the region to generate sales and contracts to the value of £15 million and helped many of those businesses create over 150 jobs and safeguard over 120 company positions.

Recently, it was responsible for the highly successful Liverpool Design Show and Festival in partnership with Liverpool creative agency Kiosk, and which over the last three years showcased 700 designers from across the UK, generated sales of £150,000 and £1 million of additional spend in the city of Liverpool and attracted audiences of nearly 40,000. In 2011, it also launched the Manchester Design Symposium, where, over the last two years and in partnership with Independent Northern Creative, Manchester City Council and Manchester Metropolitan University, leading international designers have spoken to an appreciative design industry audience of over 600 delegates.

This is the culmination of the work it began in 1992, when, as Liverpool Design Initiative, it was founded to capitalise on Liverpool's international strengths and reputation as a centre for cultural and design production, and to act as a catalyst for growth in the arts and creative industries sector on Merseyside. It offered information and advice services to designers, makers and artists, promotion and profile raising events, publications, seminars and initiatives in the creative sector.

In 1997, it created Designbank, one of the first online craft, design and visual art databases that, since 2005, continued as the Find A Creative service. Between 1997 and 2000, it also organised the Liverpool Design Awards, a high profile showcase of designers working on Merseyside.

In 2000, it became Liverpool and Manchester Design Initiative when it extended its operation to Manchester. As Design Initiative, it accelerated the process of creative business development and raised the profile of the design and craft sectors further, increasing local trading and national and international export and furthering the sector's contribution to the development of the profile of Liverpool, Manchester and the whole of the North West region.

To this end, it supported showcases of North West design and craft at 100% Design and Designersblock (in both London and Milan); managed the Setting Up Scheme business incubation programme on behalf of Arts Council; developed the market for local design and craft with its succession of Make Me selling events in Manchester and Preston; sponsored the Roses Design Awards with a series of related design symposia in association with the event; provided opportunities for creatives to use and invest in new technologies; engaged hundreds of young people in schools across Merseyside and Manchester through education projects such as Junior Design Awards and Design Stars; and recently ran a Craft Rally conference and a cohort of the Hothouse programme in partnership with Crafts Council.

Design Initiative believes that its legacy has enabled thousands of designers to establish, grow and sustain their businesses with the necessary support, skills and confidence to deliver success. It has also retained the talent of designers, makers and artists in the region, to ensure they are part of a thriving community and it continues as a centre for dynamic creative practice.

The organisation would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the staff and board members, funding bodies, sponsors and supporters of the organisation - past and present - for their generosity, commitment and loyalty over the last 20 years. Without their efforts, Design Initiative would not have been able to develop its reputation and accomplish its work.

Thank you,

Roger Morris
Chair, Design Initiative Board

Geoff Allman
Design Initiative Board

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