Colleges can furnish us with the right answers

I sat through the proceedings at the Furniture Forum ’95 with a mix of interest and growing awareness about how out of touch great slices of the furniture industry are (still).

Michael Heseltine, at the expense of my prejudices, spoke a lot of common sense – one voice, more professionalism, greater help from Government. Manufacturer Martin Jourdan introduced party politics, but has yet to make the intellectual leap as to how a deregulated, low-paid workforce can amass enough disposable income to keep a buoyant furniture market afloat. But that is not what I want to discuss.

The sterile, old hat design discussion that took off in the afternoon was way out of touch with what is happpening at the better design colleges in this country.

Long ago these colleges realised that designers had to “take on” the staid, low-horizoned leaders of our industry at their own games if graduate designers are to have an industry in which to work in the future.

Long ago they included an understanding of the marketplace (end-users and distributors), its opportunities and its prejudices, the product development process, computer-aided design and manufacture, designing for manufacture and assembly, benchmarking, and the whole business process – including investment strategy and funding options.

In other words, if given the chance by our industry, they could revolutionise it and lift its horizons.

Such is the course I teach on at Bournemouth University. And such is the course Janice Kirkpatrick spoke of in Glasgow. I wish her audience had listened and not put her down with weasel words like “bright lady” or “I’ll give you a job any time”.

Peter Miles, Milesian, Bath

Latest articles