Today, BEDA boasts 42 members from 24 member states in Europe. Members can be design promotion centers and other publicly funded organisations that promote design nationally or regionally as well as professional and trade associations for designers from across Europe. Those professional associations represent some 400,000 designers from across Europe in every discipline of work from industrial design and interiors to digital design and branding. BEDA is a not-for-profit organisation funded in its entirity by its members. It is run by a board of directors elected by its membership every two years. It also elects a President and Vice President every two years. BEDA is headquartered in Brussels.
The history of BEDA
BEDA was founded in 1969 when there was little knowledge and poor awareness of the impact that designers could have in business. BEDA brought together the professional design associations from across Europe, typically providing signposting to information about the design industry, which was very young at that time. It also helped to promote the case for design in business.
How has the membership of BEDA changed over the years?
Initially, membership was open to design industry associations only, although from all categories of designers, as well as educational institutions. Geographically there was a focus on the EU. In time, membership was extended to design centers and countries outside the EU but within the “geographical limits of Europe." As a consequence of this, the association changed its name from Bureau of European Designers’ Association to Bureau of European Design Associations, seemingly a small change but in context, a major one. The promotional organisations with their unique background, competencies and political expertise at national and regional levels, quickly started to address political agendas. This proved to be relevant and important not only to the design profession, but to the overall understanding of the potential for design as a tool for change.
How has BEDA's strategy changed over the years?
As things improved in general for the design profession, BEDA started to look at how the it could influence the political agenda. It wanted to create increased awareness of the importance of design as a business tool. It wanted politicians to understand that design can be an enabler for change and improve competitiveness for European industry. It wanted an improved life for European citizens.
Has BEDA been successful? Yes. As a result of years of successful lobbying in Brussles, today, design is part of the innovation policy for Europe called Innovation Union 2020.
BEDA continues to be deeply involved in the shaping of policy for Europe. We will also promote design as a tool for industrial and societal innovation, something much needed today and in the future.