UK manufacturers under attack

The UK’s attitude to furniture design was lambasted by speakers at a conference this week. – The criticisms were delivered at yesterday’s National Furniture Forum, organised by The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers (DW 18 November 1994).

The UK’s attitude to furniture design was lambasted by speakers at a conference this week.

The criticisms were delivered at yesterday’s National Furniture Forum, organised by The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers (DW 18 November 1994).

Keynote speaker James Woudhuysen of the Henley Centre for Forecasting slammed UK furniture manufacturers and retailers for their “lack of respect” for quality design. “The furniture industry doesn’t take design seriously,” he says. He sees the consumer as “patronised” by manufacturers who “don’t encourage the UK to invest in quality design”.

Paul Atkinson, managing director of Atkinson Design Associates, says: “In Italy 98 per cent of export growth in the 1980s exploited design development. We need to bring designers into the process.”

Janice Kirkpatrick, founder of Glasgow consultancy Graven Images, covered the UK’s lack of direction in her speech. “There is no long-term future producing goods which aspire to be Italian, Spanish or just plain cheap – the Italians and Spanish will always do it better,” she says.

And design management consultant Jane Priestman drew on her experience as a design client at BAA and British Rail. “Clients neglect the fact that furniture should reflect architecture – it’s not an afterthought,” she says.

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