An argument about authorship has once again overshadowed discussion of what matters about design. No sooner had Design Council director Hilary Cottam won the 2005 Design Museum Designer of the Year award, than an article by Deyan Sudjic in The Observer reported that an architect is furious about the award, and that a head teacher has described it as “a victory of spin over substance”. It’s a great shame if people close to the story are upset, because the award to Cottam signals a shift away from the obsession with celebrity and authorship that so often renders discussion of design tedious. As director of the experimental RED team at the Design Council, Cottam has been working to redefine the role of design in daily life, starting with health and citizenship. Her work, which is always collaborative, involves the use of design to re-engineer the ways schools, prisons and public institutions – and the people who use them – relate to each other. The Design Museum’s award website includes this prominent statement from Cottam: “All the projects are developed by a team which includes designers, other professionals from a range of disciplines, front-line workers and members of the public who, with me, are challenged through the design process to abandon their initial preconceptions and co-create something new and beautiful that works”.