British talent is not getting the recognition it deserves

As an interior, product and furniture designer, the recent impact of the Bouroullec brothers – due to their five-month slot at the Design Museum – has left me questioning whether new up and coming British designers are getting left behind in the rat race for international recognition for innovation?

Don’t get me wrong, their work is unique and I am keen to visit their exhibition, but I’m exhausted by seeing them in every design-related article or magazine during the past month. Not out of any personal disdain for them or their work, but rather at the frustration of knowing that some other young inventors, with a slightly varied concept, got there first.

Dubbed as Philippe Starck’s replacements, the French brothers have unquestionably made an impact on the British press and those who read it, but what has happened to our home-grown designers?

So I pose this question: Is it that we are no longer creative as a nation and other European designers are being chosen ahead of us or that British manufacturers who can promote us, are not available to designers?

For example, remember the hugely successful link between Robin Day and Hille. Therefore, if we could produce quality contemporary and luxury designs for the home – at a price that could compete with Italian or Spanish manufacturing, for example – and had the methods to successfully distribute them, would more young designers, who want to invent themselves as well as their talent, be more inclined to play at home in the UK, rather than seek to work with companies across Europe ?

Is it any wonder that someone asked me recently why British designers take so much longer to get international recognition when the majority of leading manufacturers such as Moroso, Cappellini and Cassina are based in Europe. Not to mention the fact that our design fairs are the smallest in the world compared with those in Milan, Cologne and the US. And my point is reiterated in Tom Lloyd and Luke Pearson’s round-up of Cologne Furniture Fair by the fact that no young equivalents to Ron Arad are featured.

Where are all the new ideas and the manufacturers to produce them – bring back the creative, original and innovative minds that for so many years have promoted Britain as a nation of forward thinkers and let’s start challenging Europe for domination.

Mark Humphrey


Mark Humphrey

London SW6

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