By Sally Kinncs

(ilasgow could be on the brink of a major design initiative thought to be worth f l .7 million that would touch all aspects ofthe industry if a report currently being considered by the Scottish Development Agency (SDA) goes ahead.

Although the details of the proposal are still secret. Trevor Wight. Head of Projects. (ilasgovv and Strathclyde North. outlined the nature and scope of the report. Commissioned from Richard Ashdown of (Glasgow-based) Ashdown Millan. it was set up to look at what made certain cities develop a capability in design. to assess (ilasgow’s strengths and weaknesses compared to cities like Milan and Barcelona where design flourishes. and to draw up a

were good at promoting their own design. but when we went to the university the guy we spoke to actually opened the interview by saying ‘this thing about Danish design is largely a myth‘. We have to keep on promoting (ilasgow. but not to the point where we start believing our own publicity. I think we’ve still got a long way to go.’

The initiative couldn’t come at a more urgent time: Britain's trade deficit in manufactured goods is getting worse. designers go abroad in search of work and companies are forced out of business by the flood of cheap but well made import. It's a gloomy picture and however attractive the idea may be of turning (ilasgow into a second Milan. the p _ . success of Italy’s manufacturing pmgmmmc 0' “um” industrv cannot be copied and

‘Almm 18 m 3“ lndl‘ilduul Pmlcc“ imported wholesale. ‘The SDA can‘t 1”“ [Wing 5112121951“. 51ml Wigm- 71”“ change the world overnight' says we would hope that about six would ' be key projects.‘ They include initiatives in education and training; a scheme to develop a ‘brokerage' concept to bring together designers and potential manufacturers: assistance with marketing for designers. and an overall programme of publicity to promote Scottish design. (‘entre in the Merchant City. which aims to bring retail. workshops. a museum of costume and fashion shows together under one roof. would also fall in with this plan.

The Fashion (‘entre is due to open in the autumn of 1990. the year around which so much of (ilasgow‘s new prosperous image hinges. Wight describes 1990 as ‘a window of opportunity". ‘There‘s a sense that if we don‘t do it now we never will .‘ He‘s hoping that plans will go ahead to establish in (ilasgow a European Design Education Network. comprising institutions to exchange ideas. ‘I'm hoping too that its inaugural conference will be held in Glasgow in 1990.‘

Wight is wary ofover-hyping a theme however. ‘lfone message came out Denmark it was that they

Ashdown ‘but we‘re trying to develop a plan that takes into account Scotland's industrial structure. At the moment designers are turning themselves into manufacturers. and they end up as craftsmen. That‘s unproductive because you can only produce one-offpieces.‘

He’d like to see small scale industry. where a new idea can be taken on without disrupting a huge production line. ‘They used to say you could get anything made in the back streets of Glasgow.‘ There are skills available here he suggests. which could be used again. not in a folksy way. but as they do in Italy. in hi-tech workshops. capable of precision work.

Both Ashdown and Wight acknowledge how ambitious the project is. but the report sounds like a fair appraisal of the difficulties: and. just as important. the will to achieve results seems to be there. Overpage Deyan Sudjic. editor of the award-winning design magazine Blueprint looks at the possiblities for Glasgow; and The List talks to some of the people currently working in the industry.

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