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Opinion / Nolan Giles

Now you’re talking

“London is the design capital of the world.” That’s what Margot James – the UK’s minister for digital, culture, media and sport – suggested to me and other delegates at a London Design Biennale summit yesterday. An odd statement when you consider that it was made from the UK base of US technology giant Google, which was hosting the event.Alongside folk from creative industries, staff representing numerous international embassies attended a forum that aimed to spark conversation around the 2020 Biennale – overseen by artistic director Es Devlin (pictured) – and its theme of “resonance”. Some nodded knowingly as James boasted about the globally iconic nature of UK brands Penguin Books and Mini but others – me included – were less convinced. Mini is, of course, now German-owned and the last major creative UK brand to be a clear world-beater in the industrial-design stakes was probably Dyson, which is in the midst of shifting its HQ to Singapore.So Brexit-beleaguered London is not the design capital of the world but that’s not to say that it doesn’t have a whole lot to offer. Besides its globally beloved fashion brands, design companies and architecture firms, it certainly makes the case for being the world capital of conversation surrounding the topic of creativity. After James’s welcome, engaging discussions tackling climate change, technology, politics and much more resonated around the room among industry leaders such as Danish architect Bjarke Ingels and British industrial designer Jay Osgerby. We’ll welcome further conversation when the London Design Biennale kicks off in London at much finer (and far more British) digs: Somerset House, next September.

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