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Tag: UK

The First London Austerity Olympic Games took place in 1948 so it’s no surprise that as we approach the second, there have been a number of attempts to draw comparisons between the UK as it is now and was was in the wake of the War. The Jubilee celebrations did little to dampen our enthusiasm for introspection and retrospection.

The V&A is staging one of the most prominent manifestations of this enthusiasm with its current exhibition of British design between 1948 and 2012. The three galleries devoted to the exhibits trace the ideas and objects that have shaped British design over the past 64 years. The great joy for visitors is not merely the frisson of nostalgia and love for beautifully designed and iconic objects, but the opportunity to muse about what they tell us about the country we were and what we have become.

Modern Britain was forged as the post-war government sought to kick-start the economy and rebuild society. And yet, the modern world never completely supplanted the traditional, which is why British design habitually harks back to the past. Many favourites are here including the E-Type Jaguar and the Mini, the polyprop chair, the Sex Pistols poster, the Brownie camera along with modern innovations such as the Dyson vacuum cleaner and the iMac G3. The story of the objects is told strikingly, and even the more familiar products are presented in an interesting way. Yet the true joy lies in reading between the lines: of the twin pulls of the modern and the traditional and of the enduring quality of British design and innovation betrayed by the dramatic decay of its manufacturing base which means that the best British designed products are now usually made somewhere else. The show runs until August 31.

Discussions on a range of proposals to change the EU directive have been ongoing for some time. One of the most important of these is the potential for workers to opt-out of the fixed maximum of an average 48-hour working week. Less clear cut is the discussion on whether or not any time spent on call should be treated as working time, not least because of problems defining what is ‘on-call’ in a world of mobile and ubiquitous technology. This could potentially lead to significant changes to the UK working time laws in due course. This has dragged on for long enough. In April 2009 the initial negotiations from the EU came to an end without agreement being reached. In March 2010, the European Commission started a new consultation looking at the options for reforming the directive. In December of that year the Commission launched the second stage of the review and it will now be preparing formal amendment proposals for this year. Given the long and troubled history of this legislation and the fact that it can sit at odds with the way we work nowadays, and you have the makings of another delay

Published in December 2010 and coming into force in large part in April 2012, the Localism Bill is a long planned and core platform of the coalition government. It is designed to shift the balance of power away from central government towards local government and communities. The bill has the potential to transform the structure of the UK, changing the way we own local assets and run local services. It will also have a profound effect on local property markets, both domestic and commercial although how exactly that will manifest itself continues to be the subject of debate. As is often the case with such legislation, its effects will only be known in practice, not theory.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and British Property Federation (BPF) are two organisations who have  welcomed the Localism Bill. Amongst other things the Bill will give councils greater control over business rates and give local communities more control over local planning decisions including the transfer of usage between domestic and commercial property. If implemented properly and positively, this can only be a positive step for local business and communities.


When it comes to meeting environmental targets, the Government has got commercial property squarely in its sights. Commercial buildings are responsible for around half of the UK’s energy consumption and carbon emissions, which is why the Chancellor has targeted all buildings to be carbon neutral by 2019. It is also the reason why there is so much focus on relevant standards,  especially the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) which is currently the UK’s best known and most widely used system. The BRE reckons that around a quarter of all commercial buildings built each year are BREEAM assessed and that there are some 100,000 buildings in the UK which have been assessed under the scheme.

BREEAM has been the subject of quite some criticism in the past but has been revised extensively over the last few years.  The scheme was re-launched for new buildings in 2011 and a version for refurbishments and fit-outs is being developed for launch in 2012.

Doubtless BRE is very much aware of the Ska fit-out rating system launched by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in 2009 and revised in March 2011. Having competing standards does not always help firms to understand their obligations in this remorselessly complex area, but the new standards are a welcome development nonetheless.

To have a look at one of Claremont’s BREEAM projects please click here.

Six of the UK’s best designers are to be recognised for their outstanding contribution to design and society by becoming Royal Designers for Industry (RDI) at an award ceremony held at the RSA on November 17.

Neville Brody, Margaret Calvert, Andy Cameron, Mary Restieaux, Peter Saville, Michael Wolff, will join a select group of designers who currently hold the RDI. Regarded as the highest honour a designer can receive in the UK an Honorary RDI award will also be given to Canadian designer, Bruce Mau.

“2011 marks the 75th Anniversary of the RSA’s Royal Designer for Industry. As an organisation we are committed to encouraging and rewarding outstanding designers who challenge convention and improve our quality of life,” commented Matthew Taylor, RSA Chief Executive. “The work of these seven individuals is varied but they share a common link of having made a significant benefit to society as well as demonstrating design excellence.”

The title ‘Royal Designer for Industry’ (RDI) was introduced by the RSA in 1936 to honour designers of excellence and promote the important contribution of design in manufacturing and industry.

The RDI award that began as a means by which to enhance the status of designers today remains the highest accolade for designers in the UK and is conferred to those who have shown sustained design excellence, work of aesthetic value and significant benefit to society. Only 200 designers may hold the title at any time.

Since it was introduced, recipients of the honour have included Eric Gill, Gordon Russell, Barnes Wallis, Jonathan Ive, Vivienne Westwood, and Marc Newson. Royal Designers are responsible for designing the Millennium Bridge, the iPod, the Rolls-Royce jet engine, the Harry Potter film sets and the miniskirt among other things.Outside the UK, a limited number of designers are given the award of Honorary Royal Designer for Industry (HonRDI). These include Dieter Rams, Milton Glaser, and Yohji Yamamoto.

Following the announcement of the new Royal Designers, Dinah Casson RDI, exhibition and interior designer and incoming Master of the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry, will give the annual RDI lecture.

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The chairman of British Design Innovation (BDI) has made a public appeal for increased collaboration between engineers and Industrial Designers for the greater good of the UK economy.

Gus Desbarats stated that building a stronger knowledge-sharing alliance between Industrial Designers and engineers would establish a “great leap forward” in developing and commercialising new innovations, intellectual property and technology transfer within the UK. “Working together would lead to increased sales, stronger brands and more successful companies.”

BDI believe that greater collaboration between the UK’s world-leading creative design talents in both engineering and Industrial Design can play a significant role in driving forward growth in British companies. The organisation’s appeal follows James Dyson’s call for greater training of engineers and designers and Chancellor George Osborne’s recent announcement of a £195 million investment in engineering and science to position the UK as a world leader.

“Championing UK technology needs to be balanced by the insight that companies like
Apple and BMW have complemented their technological engineering design with significant investment in Industrial Design to become ‘customer experience’ leaders,” Desbarats said, adding that UK Plc needs an industrial strategy that also recognises the critical role of Industrial Designers as experts in the human behaviour which ultimately determines the commercial return on most investments in technological innovation.

“There is a mutual lack of acknowledgement on the part of both the design and engineering industries of what the other contributes to the UK economy,” he said. “Instead, each sector places itself in a separate box, rarely collaborating – and indeed, barely communicating. Collaboration between the two professions would create greater knowledge-sharing, streamline the route to market and ultimately produce more successful world-class products benefiting everybody involved, from concept to end result”d.

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It’s great to see that something simple, effective and really useful has won the UK leg of the international James Dyson Award – bring on the flexible room divider for use in hospitals, developed by designer Michael Korn.

KwickScreen is a portable, retractable, room divider which provides isolation or privacy solutions in hospitals when required. They have a very small footprint for easy storage and use and are simple to transport and clean. KwickScreens enable hospitals, which are often stretched for resources, to make the best use of space offering the flexibility to change a room’s layout. The product greatly helps in the fight against health care acquired infections as well as with mixed sex accommodation and general privacy and dignity problems.

KwickScreens can be printed, which adds colour and interest to wards and can be used to display important messages to staff and visitors and has applications beyond healthcare, in schools, universities, offices and exhibitions where open plan areas need to be divided up in a fast and flexible manner.

Having graduated from the Royal College of Art with a table top model of the KwickScreen, Michael spent much of the year researching hospital environments and understanding the situation. The following year, 2008, KwickScreen was selected to be part of the NHS’s smart ideas programme and in 2009 a clinical trial at UCLH with full size prototypes began. Over the next year further product developments were made, the internal mechanism was simplified and the body was changed from steel to aluminium. KwickScreen was accepted into the Design London incubator Jan 2011 and subsequently the first volume sales came in, by July the screen has been sold into 25 trusts and 4 countries.










Michael says ‘ The inspiration came whilst thinking about problems within the NHS; MRSA, lack of space, lack of privacy. No one wants to be denied their basic right to privacy and dignity when admitted to hospital. The NHS has the worst rate of healthcare associated infections in Europe. Nurses required improved isolation for infection control without the use of scarce side rooms, and patients wanted increasing privacy and dignity, therefore I sought to address these problems. I came up with the idea of bringing isolation to the patient. A retractable screen was the solution I envisaged; I sought inspiration firstly from nature. The venus fly trap and a frogs tongue, slap on bracelets and tape measures were all used during this stage until the discovery of rolatube which gave a means of scaling up my idea to full size’.

See more details of Michael’s invention and the other shortlisted projects here BBC News – Showing off UK innovation

Posted by Ann Clarke

As Eric Cantona didn’t quite say, just as seagulls follow the trawler, every major sporting event attracts its own retinue of surveys warning about their potential to distract people from work. Wimbledon is no different of course and in the time honoured tradition the Chartered institute of Personnel and Development has produced its own research into how employees will be making choices between Pimm’s and PDA during this fortnight and what employers should do about it, if anything.

The conundrum for employers is invariably the same: given the potential for Wimbledon / World Cup / Olympics to distract employees, do they police the amount of time they divert or do they just give in to it all?

According to the latest survey by the CIPD, the majority of workers won’t be given time off to watch the tennis. It found that 86 per cent of organisations were not intending to let staff watch but also warns that people may watch anyway and so flexibility around the time of important matches during working hours could boost employee morale.

In other words, employers should accept that this is not a battle they will win and they should aim to strike a balance and communicate a policy to staff. It has been estimated that around half of the UK population watched Wimbledon at some point last year, with 6.8 million viewing the action online.

The issue will become more acute if Andy Murray does well again this year. Murray’s appearance in last year’s semi-final attracted the tournament’s largest UK audience of 7.1 million even though it was screened during normal working hours. A repeat may be the time to break out the Pimm’s and strawberries and let the work wait for a couple of hours.

Director Sylvain Chomet, best known for his Oscar-nominated feature films The Illusionist and The Triplets of Belleville, has directed a series of animated commercials for Lake District Cheese Company, which screen in cinemas across England and Scotland for the next four months.

Two animated characters, Cow and Bunny (voiced by Julie Walters and comedian Will Andrews), are warmly brought to life by Chomet through the charming, almost retro, animation style for which he is best known. Set in “the land of milk and bunny,” the Lake District home of the brand, Cow and Bunny promote the cheddar’s award-winning credentials.

Chomet directed all three ads – a 30 second commercial and two 10-second “outtake” spots – for Glasgow-agency Frame Creates. It is the first time that a major UK cheese brand has taken its advertising to the cinema screen. Lake District Cheddar Company hopes the move will connect the brand with family cinema goers over the summer months when a number of blockbusters are set for release. These include the likes of King Fu Panda 2, Pixar’s Cars 2 and Smurfs 3D.

In support of the cinema campaign, the commercial will also air on catch up TV platforms including and 4OD, and UK’s leading food websites such as BBC Good Food and Jamie Oliver.

“We wanted to feature the Lake District as prominently as possible, opening the piece with a long, luxurious camera move on a wide shot of the Lake District, said Gareth Keogh, th1ng producer. “This was not only a great showcase for the layouts, but also created the relaxed, summery feel that the client wanted to associate the product with. We are very pleased with the end result, in particular the high quality of animation throughout all 3 pieces.”

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The least surprising survey results of the month come from a market research firm called uSamp. It claims that the technology we use to make us more productive is in fact holding us back, at the annual cost to the UK of some £58 billion. The results of the survey show that the average UK employee loses at least an hour a day on email, social networks and text messages.

Unsurprisingly email is the biggest culprit, accounting for as many as a quarter of all daily distractions with personal use of the internet, especially on social media, making up nearly one in ten. Around 45 per cent of workers claim they can only usually go for 15 minutes without any kind of distraction, a quarter say they have no time at all for creative thinking and ten per cent have missed deadlines due to constant interruptions.

While it would be wrong to characterise all of these interruptions as a waste of time – many will be to share information or carry out important tasks – there is obviously an issue of time management and not least in the way each day is structured. The survey reflects the steps some people have taken to deal with the effects of technology on productivity. According to uSamp, the majority of employees already have their own ways of dealing with distractions, although you have to question how effective they have been in light of the other results of the research.