Sir Terence Conran has been a vocal advocate for design in the UK for many years, and his inspiration and impact on contemporary life in Britain as one of the world’s best-known designers, restaurateurs and retailers ensures people listen.

Yesterday, at the unveiling of the New Design museum’s £80 million re-location plans, he was no different as he explained some of the benefits of good design within our society; “If you go to the Scandinavian countries, design is part of their DNA, we’ve not achieved that in this country. I hope the new Design Museum will help persuade government that design in all the aspects; whether it’s housing, public buildings or transport, is vitally important, and can improve the quality of life for people who live in this country."

He continued with some advice on a frequently asked question: “If I was a student today, leaving the Royal College of Art for example, I’d team up with an engineer from the ImperialCcollege and an entrepreneur with a bit of money, and try to design and make things of quality and originality – because I know the world expects this of this country.

“We are thought in the rest of the world to be the most creative nation in the world, but we never seem to recognize this within the country.”

“If we look at the great successes, we have James Dyson," he continued. "Just before Christmas, he came into my office in the country – by helicopter of course. He had a huge smile on his face. He said he had just received the sales report in America two weeks before Christmas, he said last week they sold 300,000 Dyson fans in America.

"The same can be said of Jonathan Ives the British designer who has revolutionized the look of Apple, and companies like Burberry. We must get Government to recognize this and see if we can duplicate the success of Dyson, Ives and Burberry in many other areas. Design can play an important part in creating beautiful quality British products.”

“I always remember persuading Margaret Thatcher no less, to put Design and technology into the National Curriculum, and amazingly she agreed, not because she was personally passionate about design, but because, as she said, 'a better educated consumer will have the effect of making manufacturers produce better quality designs and better quality products'. Sadly we can no longer be the workshop of the world and never will be again, but we can be a workshop, and the Design Museum will help us be a better one.”

 
photos by Johann Chan