Tag Archives: British Design

Helping Britain show off

As the pedals whir and the epées clash, all the world and his dog are eyeballing London. And whilst the focus is obviously sporting, it’s a good opportunity for everyone who contributes something or other to our fair city – whether that’s commerce, art or artisan pastries – to show off.

BBE

Britain welcomes the world

The British Business Embassy is an organised way of showing off – a platform for demonstrating the imagination and innovation of British business, and the merits of investing here. As the top brass of the world’s top companies, from Google to General Motors, convene on London, how do you go about showing off the world’s greatest city?

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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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Pioneering a sophisticated, civilised lifestyle

This weekend’s Culture Show on BBC2 saw Alan Yentob sharing a sofa with Terence and discussing transforming Britain in the ’50s,  pioneering a sophisticated, civilised lifestyle and his being the man who enticed an entire generation into understanding design.

Especially worth it for the colour footage of the Festival of Britain and Yentob’s green screen moments cunningly enabling him to stumble across a covorting ’60s couple enjoying Terence’s newly retailing duvet and hanging out cross-legged on a lounge-lizard style sofa – pages literally straight out of the original habitat catalogue. 

Watch it here on BBC iPlayer from 37.00 – 44.40

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Conran: Our Creative City

The last few days reminded us once again of how great it is to be in London as the city continues on its path to being the most creative Capital in the world.

Holly-Anne Rolfe from our Brand Development team, Conran & Company, takes us on a short tour of two fabulous events she visited yesterday that could only take place in our great City.


First off a meeting near the Clerkenwell Design Week event meant I could take a look around the open-air displays and exhibitions and see lots of things I had been reading about since the Milan Furniture Fair last month.

I loved the branding for the Design Week this year, really fun, and it’s so nice to see a creative community ‘at work’.

Wandering past St John’s Square I was drawn in by a man on an old Routemaster and the Forest of Lights installation of giant floor lamps showcasing new illustrations from some of the most cutting edge illustrators around.

I recognised the ice cream cloud van from last year’s RCA graduate show – although this time they seemed to be without a vital ingredient.

The new Nissan cube on display also provided another Conran memory: our redesign of this classic automobile a few years ago.

I was desperate to try the ‘chairless’ after seeing pictures of people sitting cross-legged in these brightly coloured contraptions all over the blogosphere and reading about Natasha from Conran Contracts trying one out in Milan. The Vitra showroom on Clerkenwell Road was full of people looking slightly sheepish as they stepped up to the platform to try this deceptively simple device. It’s pretty good – after a bit of shifting around – and a must for summer festival going.

The Farmiloe building was impressive; a great ex-industrial space perfect for showcasing lots of interesting lighting and furniture. I particularly liked the FlexibleLove models in the courtyard space:  pieces that unfold like an accordion made from recycled materials that can be adapted for small or larger groups, great for impromptu gatherings in the garden.

The Design Museum had a selection of their designers in residence there too – I remembered Asif Khan’s Harvest chair from its time in the Design Museum tank on the riverside near our offices.

Next thing I was whizzing over to West London for the private view of SHOW 1 of this year’s Royal College of Art Graduate Exhibition 2010 sponsored by Terence’s Conran Foundation.

Trying to cross London in a humid rush hour is never fun – especially with no trains going Westbound on the Circle Line.

After an impromptu visit to Edgware Road and a hop on the no 27 bus I entered the RCA building underneath the bright vermillion ‘H’ and was immediately reminded of the last time I set foot in this illustrious institution – when CONRAN sponsored the private view of Show 2 last June which I helped organise. Slightly less stress on this occasion I’m glad to say!

Eleanor Bolton’s bold statement necklaces made from coiled up rope were absolutely gorgeous. A friend made a comment that you’d think could easily sum up these strange objects (‘noose’, I believe) but in actual fact they were delightfully light and squashy to the touch, like those large, spirally marshmallows.

The hybrid objects created by Jasleen Kaur as part of her ‘britesh’ range investigating the cultures of Britain and India were also very intriguing – like a weird 3d version of a consequences game knives and forks were topped or tailed with paint brushes or spoons; a smart pair of city shoes were crossed with flipflops – smart-casual taken to the extreme.

Terence had visited the show earlier in the day and had the following words of advice for our young creatives.

At a time when headlines seem endlessly made by MP’s expenses, bankers bonuses and a failing economy, we need our young artists and designers to shine more brightly than ever. We need you to be optimistic, brave and have a tenacious belief in your work because the creative industries are vital to the UK economy. We want you to be confident and help create a future that works, looks fantastic and has a very human centre.

Free beer this time too – thanks Terence!

GO AND SEE FOR YOURSELF THIS WEEKEND

SHOW ONE

28 May – 6 June, 11am–8pm daily, free admission

Ceramics & Glass; Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewellery; Photography and Printmaking

Royal College of Art
Kensington Gore
London SW7 2EU


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CONRAN: Terence’s blog from New York: The New Conran Shop and ICFF

The excitement this week was the opening of The Conran Shop in the Lower Level of ABC home on Broadway Manhattan.  A busy, bustling area, near Union Square filled with shops –  very different from our Bridgemarket site which suffered from very low footfall.  Here we are amongst the crowds and we have planned out our store to look calm and cool and spacious. Well done designers Conran & Partners.  The customers seem to like it and certainly have started purchasing enthusiastically.  This shop is a prototype of what to open throughout America.

A very busy launch night at The New Conran Shop New York

..with Sam Grawe, Editor of 'Dwell' Magazine

Paulette Cole, CEO and Creative Director of ABC Carpet and Home

...another satisfied customer!

We stayed at Ian Schrager’s Gramercy Park Hotel – very Rococo but with a lovely Danny Meyer Italian restaurant. Very professional, delicious and one of the best in New York.

The lovely Maialino Restaurant

Getting back via BA was the usual volcanic ash dust scenario, seven hours wait in the Concorde room at Kennedy which we designed in those happy days when Concorde crossed the Atlantic so you arrived before you left.  I did discover how nervous people who fly are.  The leather of all the Conran Shop club chairs in the room was deeply scratched just below the top of the arms where people had dug their nails into the leather probably in frustration of yet another delayed flight or maybe the fear of terrorism or maybe just excitement.

Off to Bermuda next week for my daughter’s wedding to nice Nick – I’m certainly looking forward to a sandy beach but I don’t suppose I’ll find many new products in Bermuda. But you never know.

What other people are saying:

Welcome back Conran! on Accessorator.com


Terence at the New York Furnishings Exhibition (ICFF)

Just a short blog about the New York home furnishings exhibition which is large and fills the entire exhibition hall.  It has improved immeasurably since I last saw it two years ago and now has a feel of Maison & Objet – it’s not quite as good yet but is a distinct move forward.  Huge displays of German and Spanish design – even Austrian – but no British display despite a number of small British exhibitors.

If British creativity is so important to our economy, and it is vital, surely it then justifies a presence as large as Germany and should be planned for the future.  Let’s have something wonderful and as exciting as he Tom Heatherwick in Shanghai.  We are, so we are told, the world’s top in creativity in the UK so let’s shout about it. Not much else to shout about.

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