Getting Real

Last week, we talked about our support for Michelle Ogundehin’s Equal Rights For Design campaign. The cause is gaining momentum, with James Dyson and Mary Portas – as well as our very own Terence Conran – showing their support.

The Conran Shop – a long-time advocate of better protection for British designs – decided actions speak louder than words, and set about bringing the campaign to life over at their Marylebone store. Michelle and the Conran team spent last week cathartically tearing up cheap fakes of classic designs (one of which broke before it even arrived at the store).

Michelle Ogundehin, showing us just what she thinks of design fakes

You can see the difference for yourself by heading over to the Marylebone store and checking out the Get Real window displays.

The Get Real window displays at The Conran Shop, Marylebone

The campaign stepped up another notch last night, with a bloggers’ event in Marylebone. There was a great turnout, and a palpable sense that it’s about time someone raised the issue.

The Get Real event at The Conran Shop last night

We heard a broad range of opinions on the campaign. Several attendees noted that, whilst they believe in the protection of design classics, the line between taking inspiration and ripping off isn’t an easy one to draw. Design is ultimately about selling product, and in a free market, fakes will always propagate.

It’s certainly true that design is more overtly commercial than other artistic disciplines; the closest parallel is probably fashion. But in fashion, as Michelle noted in her Times interview, there is a greater sense of shame in buying fakes – and most people know how to spot them. That’s less true in the design world. Many consumers would feel duped if they found out their Eames chair was a fake – just as they would if their Mulberry handbag turned out to be.

In fact, the issue is even more acute in the design world. A fashion fake may serve its purpose if it lasts a season, but with knock-off furniture – cheaply made and hastily thrown together – this lack of longevity is more problematic. Design classics are all but indestructible, and hold their value as the years rack up. Fakes may be cheaper – but they are seldom better value.

That’s why we’re pushing Get Real. So, head on over to Marylebone High Street, and find out how you can stay savvy.

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3 Comments

Filed under Good design, Retail, THE CONRAN SHOP

3 responses to “Getting Real

  1. Really good highlighting this big issue. Also glad to see Mary Portas is on board. Her recent TV programme “Mary’s Bottom Line” was fantastic. I can’t wait to buy her British made knickers. She is soooo right, if we can afford to have coffees in Pret, we can afford to buy less & buy better. Great philosophy. I am currently trying to find uk made bone china & I am delighted to hear that a pottery in Stoke is thinking of starting up again.
    Having Conran shout out about issues really helps small designers who dont really get heard. Bravo!

    • Thanks Niki. I agree about Mary Portas – the ‘it’s too expensive’ argument is based on the presumption that we see things as commodities, instead of as art.

      • Yes, exactly, the ‘too expensive’ argument is so ridiculous (for most people). Far better for the environment & our country & designers to buy better quality and buy things to last. My parents still use their David Mellor “pride”wedding cutlery every day and they’ve been married for over 50 years!

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