But first of all a recap. Right back at the start of my career I applied to join the Chartered Society of Designers. I'm glad I did. And I was a very happy member for 30 years or so - and sometimes a very active one. And it's how I got to meet one or two of my design heroes - Brian Webb included.
I thought that might be the end of the matter. But no, the subject keeps on popping up every so often. And it's the most active off-line subject on this blog, because I'm regularly contacted by members or ex-members who are very upset. Upset because like me they've dared to ask some questions - and they've experienced the same sort of response. And its not the way that loyal members ought to be treated.
So here are just one or two of the concerns (and I voice these as a gesture of friendship, not as an attack upon the integrity of those who are responsible for running the society).
95% of the society's income is spent on its staff (according to the last published accounts, that's two people) and its running costs. That has been the case for very many years. In my view, that's not in the best interests of the membership.
In 2002 the society set up a separate trading company: that company had a turnover of £5,050 in 2011 (up from £1,873 in the previous year), yet owes is carrying a liability to the society in excess of half a million pounds. Many might think that there's something not quite right there.
If I go onto the society's website today (that's 30 November 2012) I'll find out that I would be very welcome to attend a society-organised event, such as the London Focus Group. And that the next meeting of that group was nine months ago - on 27 February 2012. And I'd be left wondering why a 95% expenditure of income can't even deliver an up-to-date website.
I could go on, but I won't. I will put out a heartfelt plea, though: If you're involved in the running of the society, do take notice of what I (and others) say. I mean it kindly. I wish you well, I really do. So don't go on the defensive. Don't get angry. And don't threaten me with legal action.
My life's taken on a different rhythm this past year. And one of the consequences is that blogging has moved down the agenda (you may have already noticed). Or it may be that blogging has lost its way somewhat, because I'm not the only one who's stopped or faltered. Partly, of course, it's the fault of Twitter. Which is a shame, because it's very difficult to talk about or discuss design on Twitter (because to do that we need pictures, don't we?).
Or perhaps it's the platform itself. Because, as Ben remarked when we last met, Typepad seems very clunky these days (Typepad please take note: Twitter's blisfully easy to use).
Anyhows, I've not completely disappeared. And there's a lot of activity goes on here, even though I might not be posting with any regularity.
The first is spam commenting. Don't you just hate it? And what do they expect to gain? Well, the fact that commenting on here can no longer be as open as it's always been - or as open as I'd really like it to be. So in future all comments will need to be moderated by me before they appear on the blog. Don't let that put you off though. I still like to hear from you. And it's moderation, not censorship, remember. I won't be doing any editing, just clearing out the junk (and all the wedding dresses that you might have noticed a little earlier today).
My posts about the Chartered Society of Designers seem to have taken on a life of their own. What started out as an innocent questioning of the value of membership in the summer of 2008, turned into a bit of a saga. And along the way I was made to feel as though I had no option but to tender my resignation after more than 35 years of membership. But the story didn't end there, because it resurfaced recently when Creative Review ran a survey on its blog, and in doing so quoted my original post.
Sometimes people arrive here (that is on this blog) because they've Googled 'Chartered Society of Designers': if that happens to be you and you'd like to read the whole story (or, to be be more precise, the whole story so far - because I don't think this saga has ended yet), then it's best to read the posts in reverse order.
UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 2012: Although this series of posts was written some time ago, it seems that many of my own personal concerns about CSD are still being echoed elswhere. If you've had similar experiences or concerns, it's worth getting in touch with me - david(at)studiohyde.com.
I was a little surprised, not to say bemused, to find that yesterday I had visitors arriving here from the Creative Review Blog. It's a reminder to us bloggers (and our commenters) that whatever we write remains out there in the public domain. Not that that worries me, of course. But it does make you ponder quite why an 18th month-old discussion on this blog should be cited in support of the notion of attaching the letters CDes to your name. Wouldn't Creative Review have better got it straight from the horse's mouth, as it were? Ah, I forgot: the horse in question doesn't like to be asked questions.
The whole thing puts me in mind of an amusing little exchange that I witnessed when I sat as a juror at a Coroner's Court last year. I didn't tell you at the time, but I had been elected as foreman of the jury and it was my responsibility to complete an official form that determines the cause and circumstances of death, which then goes on the public record. And the form that is presented in each case (by the Coroner to the jury) is already partially completed. Now in the first case we heard, we (that is me, with the agreement of the other members of the jury) duly entered the time, place and circumstances of death, based upon the evidence given. But the pre-completed part of the form gave a different place of death (a hospital, to which the body had been transferred). Anyway, there was a smart young lawyer present (representing one of the parties involved) who made great play with the notion that their was a 'mischief' in the paperwork, because there were two places of death cited.
I say that the exchange (between the lawyer and the Coroner) was amusing, simply because the word 'mischief' isn't one that you would expect to hear in such circumstances. But then this was a lawyer, and he knew precisely what the word 'mischief' meant in that context.
And I'm wondering whether the Creative Review Survey on this matter isn't a means of creating a little mischief of its own.
If you are a member of CSD, I'd like you to email me: david(at)studiohyde.com.
(Picture half-inched from Alistair, but I'm sure he won't mind)
*Neverthless, it is going to be a bit of a ramble, so stay with me if you can.
A good friend emailed me yesterday and said that she's decided to start a blog and what was my advice on the best platform to use. Should she install it on her web site or should she follow another's advice and go for Blogger? And I then spent a long time explaining exactly why blogging is such a great idea, but that you can only do it when you're ready to do it. And it's all about content and 'tone of voice'. Nothing at all to do with the platform.
So why am I on TypePad? Simply because Ben, Richard and Russell are. They were my role models when I started out. So I did what they did. But with other role models, it could equally have been WordPress (although, paradoxically for a designer - or so you might think, the last thing I wanted to do was to design my blog).
Anyway, back to blogging and why I think it's a good thing (as if I hadn't told you before). Because it's all about bumping into people in the most unexpected way. And making contact with people who are interested in the same things. As Ben once said to me, once we would have joined some club in Pall Mall in order to meet like-minded people. These days we do it on the web.
But I'm always surprised that not many design students seem to blog. Maybe they do, but I don't come across them. Or perhaps they're just too busy on MySpace, getting wasted and using up excess hormones.
And then rooting around in my visitor statistics (yes, it's a rather sad part of the blogging personality, wanting to know who's visiting you - if anyone at all, that is) I came across Sian, who's in her second year of study at the University of Wales. Now I'm normally very reluctant to point you in the direction of someone who's not been blogging for long. Because so often people can dry up as soon as they realise that getting visitors and responses isn't necessarily a given. But Sian gives me the impression that she's in this for the long haul. So good on you Sian. Keep it up. And I hope this little post doesn't create too much pressure for you.
But what's this got to do with St Bride, I hear you ask? Well, the funny thing is that when I was reading Sian's post last week about her trip to London, I found that we were both in the St Bride Library on the same day, though for different purposes. And I came away thoroughly dispirited, which led to this, whereas Sian came away inspired.
A lesson to us, I suppose, that we should always - in the words of Eric Idle - look on the bright side of life. Or, as it says on my business card, what sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.
Cheesy maybe, but nonetheless true.
If you are a member of the Chartered Society of Designers, I'd like you to email me: david(at)studiohyde.com.
Well, here we are: something rather unusual - a post without a picture, and a rather long one at that. But bear with me: I haven't lost my marbles (or at least I don't think I have).
If you've been reading this blog for a while (and thank you if you have) you might recall my post back in the summer about the Chartered Society of Designers. I'd thought really long and hard before I made that post: not because I had an agenda or ulterior motive; but simply because I was continuing to pay an annual subscription to an organisation that appeared, to me, to be giving very little in return. I had, in a way, already decided that maybe if I walked quietly away it could just get on and do what it wanted to do without any fuss. Trouble is, I can't just quietly give up simply by withholding my subscription. No, I have to formally resign. And that's a different matter, and one that does require some reflection and careful thought. And that's what I've been doing these past few months.
First of all, though, let me set the record straight. As of 3 July this year, I had not paid my annual subscription for 2008. But I did pay it shortly thereafter. I did so because I wanted to give the Society the benefit of the doubt. Maybe my concerns about lack of engagement simply reflected the fact that I'm not an active member these days. Maybe if I got myself more engaged (as I once was) I'd get more out of it again.
But before I did anything else, I wanted to take a closer look at what the Society was doing. And, as a consequence, what was actually happening with the money that I handed over. And so I decided to take a look at the accounts. Maybe that was a mistake, because the conclusion I reached was that income was in the decline and overheads were on the rise, and very soon the latter would overtake the former. Now that's a reality that all sorts of organisations have to deal with, and I'm quite sure that the Society is astute enough to be able to tackle that issue head on. But my concern was that my subscription over the past few years was simply allowing the Society to exist: nothing more, nor less, than that.
Anyway, fast forward to yesterday evening, when I attended the 33rd Annual General Meeting. I thought this might be the opportunity to re-engage, and to raise my concern in an open debate with those members who govern and take an active interest. And, do you know what? I might just as well have stood up and announced "the King is in the altogether". This isn't what the Society wants to hear, apparently, and I was called to be 'out of order' several times.
As a result, it's been made clear to me that, unfortunately, the Society doesn't want to have its washing aired in private, let alone in public. And I won't do that: it would do the Society no good at all.
But now I must resign. And resign, not because I'm getting nothing in return for my subscription. But resign because the governing Council has made crystal clear that it doesn't want dissent. And it doesn't want to hear uncomfortable truths. As such, I represent an impediment to the aims and aspirations for its hoped-for flourishing future. In short, it doesn't need members like me.
I've thought long and hard about whether it was correct to mention this topic on this blog, and I've hesitated many a time before doing so. But I am doing so, because in all seriousness I want to know what my fellow designers feel about this: is there any longer any real point to the Chartered Society of Designers?
I ask because every January I have an invoice drop on my doormat for my membership subscription. And January's always a tight cash-flow month, so it always gets put to the bottom of the pile. And every year for the past few years I've thought to myself 'is this really worth it'? And there's always something that's made me stump up in the past - and those are the words 'member since 1973'.
Don't get me wrong on this: I've been proud to be a member, and I've made many good friends and attended career-changing courses through being a member. And, in the past, I've rolled my sleeves up and got involved, both at the regional and national level. Because, as so often in life, what you get out is commensurate with what you put in.
But, I don't know, for the last few years that invoice and the letter and telephone call to chase it will be the only times I ever hear from them.
And I simply don't feel connected any more. Does it do anything for me as a designer? Is it relevant to what I do to earn my living day by day? Does it provide a forum where I can exchange thoughts and ideas with fellow designers? (Certainly not on the basis of the members' forum* on their web site, where the last posting was made in September 2005.)
It used to do all those things. Now, though, I'm not so sure.
I thought I'd already opted to leave simply by not paying my membership fee for this year. But it seems that I have to tender my resignation in writing.
What do you think, fellow designers? Are you a member (or indeed a fellow)?