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Last edited 22 Jun 2016
Originally founded by Hugh Dalton, President of the Board of Trade in 1944, the then ‘Council of Industrial Design’ was intended to ‘…promote by all practicable means the improvement of design in the products of British industry'.
The Council of Industrial Design was originally directed by S C Leslie, but is generally considered to have been shaped by his successor Sir Gordon Russell, who used the Council to promote the case for good design to retailers and consumers, and to examine ways of reforming design education.
The Council of Industrial Design was renamed the Design Council in the early 1970’s.
By the 1990’s, the Design Council operated with a £7.5million grant from the Department of Trade and Industry and employed more than 200 staff, but it was considered to be remote and out of touch by the design community. A review in 1993/4 by John Sorrell proposed a smaller organisation focussing specifically on disseminating knowledge and inspiring action. A number of new intitiatives were launched, including; Design in Business Week, Design in Education Week and Millennium Products.
In April 2011, partly as a result of the ‘austerity’ measures introduced following the credit crunch in 2007, the Design Council was reconstituted as a charity and merged with The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).
The Design Council is now an independent charity. It generates funds by charging for its advisory services and from donations, and it also receives a number of grants, including from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The current Chief Executive is John Mathers.
It now summarises it’s mission as ‘…to bring the transformative power of design to the things that matter’, by ‘…stimulating innovation in business and public services, improving our built environment and tackling complex social issues’.
The Design Council promotes the benefits of design throughout the UK by:
- Stimulating debate.
- Influencing policy
- Building networks.
- Providing evidence of the value of design.
The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) was established in 1999 as the successor to the Royal Fine Art Commission. It was created partly in response to ‘Towards an urban renaissance’, the report of Lord Rogers’ Urban Task Force. CABE was a non-departmental public body funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
It was originally chaired by Sir Stuart Lipton who suggested that its purpose was to ‘…inject architecture into the bloodstream of the nation’. Its function was to act as advisors to the government on architecture and the built environment and to undertake independent assessments of buildings designs.
- It provides design reviews and advise to clients in the early stages of design.
- The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) recommends that local authorities refer major projects to Cabe for design review. This is intended to helps Local Authorities satisfy the Planning Act (2008) requirement to have regard to achieving good design.
- It provides independent advice on the design quality of schemes in London through the London Design Review service.
- It provides independent expert advice on the design quality of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) and has published ten best practice design principles for NSIP’s.
- It provides workshops and plan reviews for local authorities.
- It provide support for neighbourhood planning.
In April 2014, Pam Alexander replaced Paul Finch as the Chair of Design Council CABE.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Design review.
- Design quality.
- Inclusive design.
- Independent client advisers.
- Key performance indicators.
- National Planning Policy Framework.
- Neighbourhood planning.
- Presenting to design review panels.
 External references
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