Design Agenda

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Design Agenda logo, circa 2000[1]

Design Agenda was a design related think tank associated with the libertarian anti-environmental LM network. It was founded via events in 1994 and 1995 by Nico Macdonald and Kevin McCullagh, both of whom were reportedly members or supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party.[2][3][4] Later, by 1998, the think tank added a third member Alex Cameron.[3]

According to internal RCP documents RCP members 'initiated a meeting entitled 'What should be the Design Agenda for the 90s?'. 'Attended by around 35 people' this meeting 'resolved to organise a debate entitled "Do designers need design history?"'. Held at Islington Business Design Centre on 14 July 1994, this was subsequently listed as a Design Agenda debate.[5] A second event was held at the Design Museum in 1995 titled 'Beyond fear & envy: demystifying Japanese design' (15 July 1995). The point of the conference was, according to Kevin McCullagh, 'to get beyond the stereotypes of Japanese design.'[5] It 'coincided with the start of the VJ-Day anniversary'.[4]

In 1996 Macdonald and McCullagh 'co-curated' 'Designing the Internet' over 2 days at The Cochrane Theatre, (5/6 July). McCullagh states that this was the 'first conference in the UK on design for the internet.'[6]

LM network resources

A further event 'New Design' was held on 4 July 1998 at the ICA, London. Conference Director was Alex Cameron, another former RCP member who had joined the think tank by that stage. According to Nico Macdonald, also involved in the organisation, 'New Design was the first public conference to raise critical questions around government and existing design institutions’ celebration of "Creative Britain"'. The conference consisted of four sessions: 'Rebranding Britain; Design is mainstream; Designing the Dome and Design with principles'.[7] Speakers included Janice Kirkpatrick, Lynda Relph-Knight, Ken Dixon from ad agency St Luke's, Peter York (SRU), Jan Abrams, Caroline Roux (editor, Guardian Space magazine), Michael Bracewell (author).[8]

Cross-promotion of other LM network associates

Following the pattern of all other LM network organisations Design Agenda consistently promoted other associates of the network. At their second conference Beyond fear & envy: demystifying Japanese design held at the Design Museum on 15 July 1995, speakers included LM network associate James Woudhuysen.[5]

In 2000 it published a book by leading former RCP cadre James Heartfield[9] In 2005 Heartfield participated at a further event also addressed by Kevin McCullagh and chaired by Nico Macdonald. Titled 'Can creativity save the British economy?', respondents included Peter York, SRU Limited and Kate Oakley, freelance writer and consultant. The event was held on Wednesday 21 September at the Design Council, 34 Bow Street, London WC2E 7DL.[10]

Winding down

After the event in 2005, Design Agenda appears to have wound down. No more events were announced on its website. In 2006 Nico Macdonald made use of the name in a letter to Design Week attacking green design, a core LM network position.[11] By November 2008 Alex Cameron and Kevin McCullagh were no longer listed on the website.[12] In 2009 the site was occasionally unavailable[13] and by August 2010 the site was no longer available on the internet.[14]


  1. Design Agenda, Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 11 May 2000, on 10 November 2011
  2. NewDesign, September/October 2001.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Design Agenda Who, retrieved from the Internet Archive of 21 June 2000, accessed 10 November 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 Rasing our profile in the bourgeois world in Our tasks and methods discussion, RCP internal document, circa 1996, p. 5.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Plan Kevin McCullagh Profile, accessed 10 November 2011
  6. Plan Kevin McCullagh profile, accessed 10 November 2011
  7. Design Week Issue 2 July 1998, accessed 10 November 2011
  8. Spy Events, accessed 10 November 2011
  9. James Heartfield, Great Expectations: The Creative Industries in the New Economy, Design Agenda, 15 Jun 2000, ISBN-10: 0953875806
  10. Design Agenda Events, Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 8 September 2008, on 10 November 2011
  11. Nico Macdonald, Design Agenda, London EC2 'Where are the lobby groups if designers have gone Green?' Design Week, October 19, 2006, Pg. 11
  12. Design Agenda Who?, Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 19 November 2008.
  13. See Design Agenda Homepage, Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 25 February 2009, on 11 November 2011
  14. See Design Agenda Homepage, Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 8 October 2010, on 11 November 2011