Dr Peter Steidl, the management consultant appointed to investigate the professional design needs of industry, has advised the State Government to drop proposals for establishing a Western Australian design centre.
Dr Steidl, in a report to the Department of State Development, has said the traditional concept of a design centre was not economically viable and would attract only minimal support from industry.
Instead, Dr Steidl has urged the Government to help raise appreciation of good design by initiating a series of national and international design exhibitions.
Deputy Premier Ian Taylor said the aim would be to use the exhibitions to create a `design focus' which in turn could be used to promote much-needed design education and referral services.
"Dr Steidl is asking us to seek the support of other State governments in joint promotions to reverse the widespread belief in industry that products will continue to sell well - without the benefits of good design," he said.
"What we are being asked to do is combat some very ingrained attitudes which are already costing the country millions of dollars in lost export opportunities."
Mr Taylor said the report - `The Design Focus Concept' - had found a high degree of conflict between industry, academia and designers over the need for good design.
"It argues that we need a fresh approach to the problem, and suggests a `design focus' approach would be a way to tackle the issue," he said.
"What is clear is that good design is now essential for any company trying to break into the export market. It is just as important as quality management and R & D.
"International competition has become so fierce, we are not going to get by without it."
Mr Taylor said the concepts of good design were not restricted to the way products looked but every aspect of their manufacture and marketing.
"It is not an expensive new management technique," he said.
"It is a way to ensure that a company is performing at optimum efficiency at all levels - from the choice of manufacturing materials to the selection of an effective advertising campaign."
Mr Taylor said a special conference would be held in December with representative groups to gauge reactions and discuss implementation.