Vancouver Design Sucks

I’ve heard it many times before. I’ve been told that Design doesn’t happen north of the 49th parallel. Working as an industrial designer in Vancouver for 20 years has felt like pushing a rope up hill quite often. There are so many good things happening in small pockets around Vancouver when it comes to design, yet Vancouver Design still sucks.

Let’s be clear about one thing. I believe there is no better place on this planet to be inspired to create something new. With the mountains, the ocean, and forest an arms length away there are myriad ways to distract the mind or sweat out the demons to let in the fresh ideas flow. Yet Vancouver Design still sucks.

In Vancouver we can throw a rock and hit The United States. We’re a short car ride away from Seattle which has TEAGUE and the recently purchased Carbon Design Group. We’re a short plane ride away from Silicon Valley where Design doesn’t just not suck, it is taking over.

Companies (0utside of Vancouver) are investing, big time, in Design. Valley start-ups and tech giants alike are investing heavily in design. In the Valley:

designers are now hired at a rate of one to four compared to engineers at tech startups. According to KPCB’s talent partner Jackie Xu, this ratio used to be closer to 1:15 or even 1:30

The Valley hires designers, Nike puts a designer in charge, large companies create Chief Design Officer positions and find success….Vancouver gives its start-ups a design student with little to no experience at far less than market rate and boasts about it as a win for design in Vancouver. There are many examples of how in Vancouver we’re teaching our companies that providing design students to start-ups is the value of design.

I for one am tired of wearing the badge of Vancouver Design Sucks. It needs to change and it needs to change now. It is time for Vancouver to start investing in design.