A unique social status for independent French designers finally exits

Inequalities in social and fiscal treatment of design individual businesses existed in France because of archaic administrative rules. The result of a long effort to raise awareness, explain and demand from the Alliance France Design (AFD) with the French public authorities — 15 years of perseverance — a decree relating to the nature of the activities and income of authors finally integrates those of design without distinction of discipline. Instead of juggling 2 or even 3 legal statuses, freelance designers can finally choose a single status.

The AFD was created in January 2003 to be the multidisciplinary trade union of a single profession, united around specialised disciplines. Its goal: to give real visibility and influence the decisions that determine designers’ conditions of work. The AFD adopts the international classification of occupations (ISCO): space design, graphic design and product design, and raises awareness of new realities and changes in the field of professional design practices. Demonstrating social inequality and the unfair competition produced by the French bureaucracy, AFD claims that all design disciplines be brought together in a single statute. 10 years of cooperation between the AFD and the ministries of Culture, Industry and Social Affairs will be necessary to change attitudes.

In 2013, the Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti announced the designers’ status modernisation, but political changes slowed down this process. It took another 7 years for a report from the ministries to provide an informed and complete summary, in which AFD’s recommendations are fully integrated. In March 2020, the draft decree relating to the nature of artistic income is sent to professional organisations. It is adopted and published by the French Government at the end of August.

The profession of designer is thus recognized as it is. Finally, France offers designers working as individual businesses, a unique, modern status worthy of the highest social standards, allowing them to focus on what they do best: create, invent, innovate.

Since 2003, the AFD has merged all major professional designers trade unions in France. Today it is the only one. This is the first time in France that such a unifying movement has materialized. And it is undeniable that the exchanges and the work with the designers organisations from other European countries and BEDA have contributed to its success.

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