Who runs the CDF?
Written by Paul Davies, CDF Ambassador 2011
Historically the CDF had a board of representatives who met each month to set the agenda for events and other activities. The board was made of volunteers and was led by an elected Chair and Vice-chair. Designers were required to pay £40 per year to be a member of the CDF which gave them reduced entry to events and a listing on the CDF website.
In 2009 we invited designers from all over Cornwall to an event to rethink the CDF to make it a useful organisation for its members. The view was that the CDF had created a 'them and us' culture and that many people felt it was too elitist with many barriers that hindered people getting involved.
From this feedback the board decided that a new structure was needed to create a CDF that is truly representative of the design industry. So in 2010 the decision was made to try an experiment with the structure.
The major changes to the CDF have been:
Remove the membership fee
The first change was to remove the membership fee altogether so that any designer, professional or student, could be a member of the CDF. This allowed the CDF to communicate to everyone in the design database, not just those that paid their membership fees. It meant that every year we can add the new students to our list of members and help to get them involved in collaborative design activities with the professionals in Cornwall. It also allowed us to spread design news to everyone in Cornwall allowing us to become a hub for events, design news, local news and even employment opportunities.
Create the Cornwall Design Directory website
The previous CDF website contained a directory of the paid members, the second change was to split this out to become its own website. Feedback showed us that promoting design services to the wider business community was an important aspect of what designers wanted from the CDF. The older directory was hidden away within a site that talked to designers and the business community were ignorant of its existence. The Cornwall Design Directory was launched in 2011 and has been promoted directly to the business community as the resource to find a designer or design team. The structure of the directory allows businesses to review designers work within the directory and read reviews from customers.
Create a more open structure
The traditional structure of a board with a chair seemed to be communicating the wrong message – that the CDF was an organisation that did things for its members. The truth is that the CDF is made up from its members, without the designers of Cornwall the CDF would not exist and so we wanted to create a structure that really needed people to stand up and get involved if the CDF was to continue to go forward.
The old board hierarchy has therefore been removed and replaced with a more open, cloud-like, structure. Instead of a chair with vice-chair we now have a three tier structure:
The CDF ambassadors help to promote the CDF to both designers and the wider business community. They represent the design sector in Cornwall at local and national levels such as Design Council summits, Arts Council boards and the South West Design Forum meetings.
If someone has an idea or ambition for an event or activity that they feel would promote the design industry or cultivate creativity they become the curator for their event. By approaching a CDF ambassador they can get support for their event whether that be marketing support, man power or financial aid. The CDF have a large database of contacts and a knowledge of the wide amount of talent that could be brought together to make the event a success. By bringing people together the CDF hope to take the stress of the curator to make the event effective, fun and rewarding for all.
If you have an idea but don't know how to make it happen email and one of the CDF ambassadors will get in touch.
Once an idea has been put in motion it will inevitably need people to help put it all together – these are the animators. Working with the curator and other animators they form a small team, working together to make the whole thing a success. This is a great opportunity for young designers to get involved with real projects and work alongside the best designers and design teams in Cornwall.
Changing the structure has been a real challenge and one that is being continually monitored to make sure that it is still fulfilling the main objectives of the CDF. We hope that it has opened up the CDF to be an organisation that can truly help designers, through all disciplines, where they feel help is needed. We will need you to get involved and become animators, curators and ambassadors and I personally hope that you will find that the new structure will create a much more open, effective and fun organisation to be involved with.