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David Kester: We need design champions as politicians

Design Council chief executive David Kester has called on policy makers to recognise the value architects and designers bring to the UK

Speaking at a meeting of the AJ100 Breakfast Club at Claridge’s in London, Kester said design should be placed ‘slap in the middle’ between ‘policy narrative and user experience’.

‘That’s where you get fantastic ideas,’ he said.

Discussing how architects help government to achieve goals in line with public aspirations, he said: ‘Our policy makers need to understand the value designers and architects bring to Britain. We need design champions as politicians.’

Kester – who oversees Design Council CABE – praised architects for ‘popularising’ the idea of using design to shape behaviour, urging them to take an active role demonstrating its benefits in the market place.

Addressing senior representatives of the UK’s largest architectural companies, he said: ‘There is now a behavioural insight unit at Number 10. Why are people so interested in that now?

‘I believe we as architects and designers got there first.

‘Fundamentally we are very emotional and highly suggestible beings and we as architects are certainly shaping feelings and by designing buildings shaping outcomes.’

Architecture can ‘nudge’ the public towards ‘pro-social behaviours’, which he claimed could save government ‘a lot of money’.

He also stressed the importance of designing to give people more control.

‘People generally want more self-determination in their lives,’ he said, proposing an ‘architecture of choice’ which gives communities choice in their lives.

The AJ100 Breakfast Club is an event for executive staff from practices ranked in the AJ100, a survey of the largest architectural practices in the UK ranked by number of architects employed.

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