Tag Archives: Get Real

Fakes: fought.

The Conran Shop launched the Get Real: Fight the Fakes campaign a few short weeks ago, in support of Michelle Ogundehin’s Equal Rights for Design e-petition.

Get Real: Fight the Fakes

It’s an issue that’s long been close to our hearts: at The Conran Shop, we sell the work of hundreds of designers; designers whose work we love. We think the second-rate copyright protection they have erstwhile enjoyed chills the climate for design in Britain. It’s also bad for consumers: fakes and copies are seldom as well-built as originals, nor do they hold their value.

Well, there’s good news: yesterday, the Government announced that UK copyright laws for designers are to be amended to be in line with those currently granted to artists, writers and musicians.

Until now, product and industrial designers have benefited from protection for only 25 years from the date at which the copyright is issued, in stark contrast to those afforded to the other creative industries, whose art is safeguarded from unauthorised copies for 70 years after the death of the original author.

As our Chairman, Terence Conran put it:

“By protecting new designs more generously, we are encouraging more investment of time and talent in British design. That will lead to more manufacturing in Britain, and that in turn will lead to more jobs – which we desperately need right now. Properly protected design can help make the UK a profitable workshop again. We have the creative talent – lets use it.”

The Conran Shop will continue to champion the protection of design classics by only working with licensed manufacturers and by informing our customer’s about the value of investing in design classics.

Let’s crack out the bubbly!

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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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Patriotism and British design

Patriotism is well and truly back in vogue. It started with a murmur last year – the Royal wedding and a brief flutter of flags kickstarted Southbank’s reprisal of the 1951 Festival of Britain; a neat row of bright pastel sheds and a crescent of sand brought the charm of the British seaside resort to the Thames.

That murmur has amplified into an almightily scream of Union Jack cushions, Tube Map teatowels and ‘Keep Calm’ posters. This ‘sentiment’ trend – a nostalgia for the Britain of yore – will wax at least until the Royal Jubilee and the London Olympics are long in the memory, and perhaps until our economy gets onto a firmer footing (there is comfort in nostalgia, after all).

The currency of British iconography has never been stronger, but this is a superficial patriotism. What about modern British design – objects beautiful in form and function, designed in Britain?

At Conran, we’re passionate about it. Few could knock Britain’s design heritage – from William Morris to James Dyson, British designers have always been a force to be reckoned with. But we’re also passionate about our design future – giving British designers the chance to thrive.

One thing we could do to secure that future is better-protect our designers. ELLE Decoration UK has launched an e-petition to reform copyright protection for designers.

As things stand, works of literature, drama, music and film are protected for 70 years from the death of creator, whereas designs are only protected for 25 years from their date of invention. Michelle Ogundehin, Editor in Chief of ELLE Decoration UK and V&A Trustee, argues that this disparity harms the profitability of designing in Britain – and fosters a market for cheap fakes of classic designs.

The Conran Shop has already thrown its weight behind the ‘Fight the Fakes’ campaign, currently blowing up across the web. So too has Terence Conran, who teamed up with Michelle for a Times feature on the initiative (sadly paywalled). Terence noted that the fakes industry has “grown hugely” in the past decade, and implored the Government to look after Britain’s young designers.

The Times interview

Our Chancellor envisages “a Britain carried aloft by the march of the makers”. In that light, isn’t it time we start championing not just the design classics of the past, but also those of the future?

Let us know what you think, and check out ELLE Decoration UK’s Equal Rights For Design Facebook campaign.

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Filed under TERENCE CONRAN, THE CONRAN SHOP