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First Stephen Bayley himself, for three decades a vigorous advocate of the triumphs of modernism and high design, told me earlier this week he thought  design in the twenty-first century needed a whole new set of fictions and fantasies. See the final chapter of his most recent book Design: intelligence made visible.

First Stephen Bayley himself, for three decades a vigorous advocate of the triumphs of modernism and high design, told me earlier this week he thought  design in the twenty-first century needed a whole new set of fictions and fantasies. See the final chapter of his most recent book Design: intelligence made visible.

Then yesterday evening three different people told me they thought design was going to change the world, in those very words. I should admit that this was at the tenth anniversary party of the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre, devoted to inclusive design, so the guests were predisposed to an intimate sense of design's transformational power. But there's a new confidence in the claim; it no longer sounds undergraduate or tongue-in-cheek, but somehow self-evident. Look at how  the journalists Lynda Relph-Knight and Alice Rawsthorn have both been accentuating the social at both extremes of trade and general interest.

And now, as the final year student design shows go up, I'm not the only one most intrigued by things that break the formal/social barrier. Nice project by Helene Löfman at the Central St Martins MA Industrial Design show. She made her own ethical toasters, electronics and all.

It feels like groundswell. These are very interesting times indeed for design, and it's not just because the money's not flowing. I wonder if they say that in all trades and professions right now? They may be all a-changin' but they don't all say they're going to change the world.

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