In the month that we celebrate the best British designs of the year in the annual ELLE Decoration British Design Awards (BDAs), it’s ironic to note the inevitable emergence of articles attempting to counter the progress of Clause 56 of Vince Cable’s Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill – that’s the bit that acknowledged our Equal Rights for Design campaign to change UK copyright laws. Some of the fussing is, I suspect, prompted by copyists bemoaning their fate. But hey, you made your bed, lie in it! Or make something else. It’s that simple. But then fakes manufacturers were never interested in design or the consumer, only fast profit. So it’s no wonder they’re irate; they’re going to have to start coming up with their own ideas for a change.
But there’s also been a letter written to The Times by a panel of university professors suggesting that one effect of the proposed reform would be to limit ‘the creative freedom of future designers who would be constrained because of the need to avoid stepping on the toes of their predecessors’. What? So not being able to rip off other people’s work impedes innovation? I thought a great British idiom was ‘necessity is the mother of all invention’. In other words, constraint breeds new thinking, does it not?
Limited by land, sea and usually resources, inventive Brits have always been brilliant at relying on lateral thought and continuous experimentation to come up with the new. I believe it’s in our DNA to continually seek to subvert the status quo and strike out for individuality. After all, history proves that Brits have never been shy at stamping their unique creative viewpoint across the globe from science to literature, music and fashion. And when it comes to design, we really don’t need more stuff that looks the same – we need better stuff.
We also need to make sure that the crucial point of our campaign – the protection of young designers and thus the future of British creativity and the protection of Brand UK – keeps getting heard. Especially if we wish to hold onto our reputation as a centre of design excellence, something that the calibre of this year’s BDA shortlist assures me is still intact. So please help us to keep it that way by signing our petition at elledecoration.co.uk.
First published as my Editor’s Letter in the October 2012 edition of ELLE Decoration UK