Article written on 9th December, 2016
Featured in Interior Design

Conran and Cathedrals

Good design gives you pleasure and improves the quality of all our lives through products that work well, are affordable and look beautiful.

Sir Terence Conran.

Hear hear.

The more I research content for my blog, the more I come across emerging, creative brands who focus on one single discipline or craft. Weaving, glass blowing, woodworking, dyeing, block printing etc etc. They shun the mass-produced goods spilling out of the factories in China (they are not the only ones).

Listening to Terence Conran speak at his newly-opened Design Museum ( the other day, reminded me of a fundamental fact. We really are very very good at design in this country. Whether designing it, buying it, promoting it or using it.

OK, so the Chinese may be bigger, he asked, but are they better?!

Design is optimism….. it is looking ahead to educate, inspire, enlighten the future generation and to make a difference to the world around us.

This post is not about the new Design Museum per se. It reflects on Conran’s vision, which is today manifest by the number of emerging makers out there and the high quality of their goods (watch this space for more on those). Go to any design festival and you’ll see what I mean – some mentioned here in a previous post

The photographs show you the centre of this optimism, this “cathedral of design” as he refers to his new space.

Conran went on to explain the magic trinity of a good product….. design, manufacturing and business. They are so inextricably linked, that one without the other is pointless. So tight they are that he shouts about them (not literally) from an interchanging advertising billboard in the atrium, and in a permanent exhibition.

And this is what I find so exciting….those emerging brands are combining two of Conran’s essential ingredients for his trinity….And yup, you’ve guessed it, we, the users are the third. So go and research these makers and designers at fairs and design events.

Isn’t it time to give back trade to the people who make really really good products? The time and care they put in to the designs and manufacturing give us really really good products.

Do you care that your beautiful rug is mass-produced in China? Probably not.

I mean, it’s all very convenient to have these goods on tap, and such a choice of goods too, but if they weren’t there, we wouldn’t really miss them would we? Sometimes too much choice becomes overwhelming, so by visiting smaller brands, you often get to find out how the thing is made, where, when and sometimes, by who. This adds a certain affinity to the product. And that’s a good thing!

And to sign off, quote of the year….

Moving the Design Museum to Kensington has been the most exciting moment of my career…… far,

….exclaims Sir Terence Conran. Age 85! Love it.

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