The ‘Made in Britain’ marque has a curious appeal that we can’t quite explain. Perhaps it is the result of nationalistic pride, or the knowledge that Britain is renowned for great craftsmanship, or maybe we just like the idea that the product we are looking at was made just around the corner… whatever the cause, the desire for items conceived, designed and ultimately manufactured in the UK is on the rise – and designs for the kitchen and bathroom are no exception.
But what do those in the industry think? Utopia speaks with some of British design’s most recognisable players to find out their take on the growth of interest in all things British…
Do people really care where something is made?
Tina: “Yes – we have seen an increase in support for ‘Buying British’ with such initiatives as the ‘Made in Britain’ marque, which raises awareness of British made products.”
John: “All the evidence suggests that consumers are more and more aware of where something is made, and the statistics are even higher when we ask consumers in overseas markets. ‘Made in Spain’ and ‘Made in France’ are evidence of this trend to make people aware of provenance.”
Does more need to be done to raise awareness of British designers?
Susie: “Britain produces some of the most beautifully crafted kitchen and bathroom products in the world, and while we are recognised globally for our design excellence, I’m not sure the UK consumer appreciates just how good we actually are! British designers and architects need to champion the benefits of UK products and educate the consumer to fully appreciate them.”
Vanessa: “More needs to be done to raise awareness of qualified and trained interior designers, especially those working with large budgets in strict complaint projects who form an essential part of the supply chain environment. Collective support needs to be felt from all angles, from trade, investment and service from the industry itself.”
What are the benefits (for the economy, but also for us, the homeowners)?
Susie: “By buying British, the economy benefits via the creation of more jobs and the nurturing of British design excellence, while the consumer reaps the benefits of beautifully designed and crafted high-quality products. Consumers are also becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues, and realise that there are benefits in sourcing locally and not shipping half way around the world!”
Tina: “The consumer gets the product they want. The British consumer is looking for a particular style that cannot always be replicated by an overseas producer. British manufacturers and designers are well placed to offer consumers the variety and flexibility they want in their open-plan and social kitchens.”
In terms of international recognition, how is Britain conceived in terms of design reputation?
Susie: “According to the UKTI, design is the UK’s single biggest export and we should be very proud of that. Britain has a worldwide reputation for design excellence, seemingly effortless style and a certain cutting-edge ‘coolness’.”
Vanessa: “When I began many years ago, the UK was regarded by international counterparts as the highest level of design. As others have caught up with attention to education, energy consumption outputs, sustainability and longevity, the UK, by contrast, did not invest. This is not the fault of the government, nor is it the fault of the individual designers, but more so the fault of those leading the industry; who have failed to keep up while on guard. We are now often criticised as having a lack of vision, scale, knowledge or tailing, and that offends me. I personally learned a great deal from my life in this industry and I do not want to leave with my tail between my legs while other ‘click and paste’ our work. There is a great potential in British design and I believe as a collection, we are in our comeback stage.”
What can we do now?
Susie: “Be more aware of the origin of the products you have in your home. By asking ‘is it British?’ and then buying accordingly, British design will continue to flourish.”
Vanessa: “Support from consumers would be most felt if they purchased services from licensed dealers and accredited suppliers and by using trusted and accredited providers so that a clear distinction is made between those who invest in service, consumer protection and customer service from those who simply take the money and fail to respond to issues as and when they arise. Consumers can then make a calculated decision as to what is the best choice for them but a distinction must be made to guide them.”