The design world is changing and yet it strangely stays the same. In the mid 1990s the big debate was around free pitching. Clients asking designers to come to the pitch with the job already done. The design industry got together and rejected the practice. Some saw opportunity and were hungry enough to do the work despite the risk of getting nothing, but most saw the folly in it. Roll on 20 years and things have gone full-circle. We see an increase in online-based free-pitches. Designers free-pitching from a distance.

The internet had democratised design. The internet enables a world-wide trade — that’s what it’s for. But design isn’t a commodity. It requires intuition, innovation, even philosophy. Its hard, nay impossible, to sell these skills at a distance in a price war. Whilst the design skills of the designers aren’t at question, these new “design sweatshops” mask a bigger issue with the way that design is bought and sold. Companies that use them often have very poor briefs, often don’t value design for what it can truly do for a business.

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