Restoring Pride: Sir Terence Conran on Design and Craftsmanship
Is there a divide between designing and making?
We’ve previously raised the question of a “societal disconnect” with working with your hands and highlighted efforts to restore a sense of pride in building things that can both benefit future generations of custom artisans and encourage economic recovery. At CustomMade, we are proud to showcase artisans who combine the roles of designer and maker. Nevertheless, the advent of mass customization options available online for many mass-produced objects has perhaps underscored an old schism between mental work and manual work. After all, when the hand that selects a pattern is not the hand that creates the product (if there is a hand at all), it’s easy to separate the two. What is the cost of that separation to consumers, makers, and society in general?
In an interview for the Prospero blog on The Economist website, the influential British designer, restaurateur, and retailer Sir Terence Conran reflects on his motivation to establish the London Design Museum, the influences on his work, and the national importance of pride in making things. Here are a few key quotations:
On the relationship between working with your hands and designing:
“I think it is vital for any designer to roll their sleeves up and get heavily involved in the making process because it helps you get a deeper level of understanding about design and how it relates to the consumer.”
On computers and creativity:
“While we must embrace computers, we must not become slaves to them—the best ideas always start with an HB pencil and a sheet of plain paper.”
On the nature of design:
“To me design has, and always will be, about problem solving and making people’s lives easier and more comfortable. Because design is all around us, in the shape of our houses and the arrangement of our interior space, in the way we entertain ourselves and the ease with which we move from place to place.”
On the importance of pride in making things:
“My lifelong belief is that we have the most amazing craftsmen in this country. If you add this to the fact the UK’s creative industries are the finest in the world, then why on earth are we no longer a country that prides itself on making things? We need to ensure we keep utilising and valuing these skills. They were a vital part of our past and we must find a way to make them part of our future.”