Designer Guide to the British Design industry… 5th January 2012 | IN DESIGN ADVICE | BY SBID

With a new year comes new resolutions and observations. Vanessa Brady, SBID President, gives us her guide to the British Design Industry…

“Britain is a funny place.  It is admired worldwide for innovation and great design, and revered as the land of great ideas and inventors. We just have to take a short trip abroad to see the unequalled level of respect which our design industry commands. Of course, being British, we don’t believe in such opinions of each other, rather having a tendency to damage success, especially if it is recognised in our peers. I have always admired the American philosophy to credit good results. These damaging British rivalries must stop for the betterment of the profession.

In 2012 SBID aims to stamp out this negative elbow positioning and propaganda spreading.  It is bad practice and, if challenged, also breaches legislation. We have collated evidence of anti-competition by a group of third parties over a lengthened period within the broad design industry. Those involved have collectively aimed to create a barrier of entry for SBID to trade freely, in breach of the Anti-Competition Act 1998, the Enterprise Act 2002 and the Office of Fair Trading regulator.

So this year we start with a clean slate, with a busy events calendar and an ever-growing membership of key industry leaders. SBID announces the International Interior Design Awards wp-content/2012, split into Residential and Contract sectors and hosted at two destinations in Italy; Macef (Milan) in September and SIA Guest (Rimini) in November. If last year’s entries are any guide, as is the profile of the judges we secured – including Professor Jimmy Choo OBE, – this year will be even better.

Being a British organisation with numerous international members, we realize that the most important aspect of British design is trust. When people see ‘Made in Britain’ emblazoned on a product, they are instantly reassured that the product has been critically assessed in every detail, analysed by numerous bodies and regulators for performance and longevity, and tested for safety and the validity of manufacturers’ claims. All these steps are necessary in order to produce evidence before a product receives certification.

If a product claims a ten year performance guarantee, it must first pass stringent durability, performance and safety tests. Testing is performed by our collaborating partner the British Standards Institute (BSI), amongst other organisations. Product designers for manufacturers understand interior design and interior decorating. They have to: the rigorous testing process is expensive and time-consuming, and many products don’t pass. In bathroom safety for example, water flow pressures for taps are graded; this measurement, among other factors, prevents flooding in multi-occupied buildings for water flow rates etc., and anti-slip tile surfaces prevent accidents when surfaces are wet.

Suitability of performance environments such as bathrooms, swimming pools or shopping centres carry different risks and are graded for their purpose. These criteria affect all products i.e. fabric and plastic coatings for fire safety, rub rating for wearability of upholstery in contract use, the location of carpet within a building for wearability.

These British design standards are not acknowledged or promoted sufficiently by designers to their clients. When products are correctly specified and installed, a designer has delivered a professional project. British design is built on trained designers and performance-tested products by quality brands. Great design is represented by educated designers (recognised through an accredited third party system, the SBID being only British destination with a standard which meets the European Council standard for practitioners) and reliable quality in products. Standards are credible performance indicators unrecognised as added value by designers, although they are in fact the cornerstone of an interior designer’s brief. Designers sell ideas and advice.

We are no longer in business just in the UK; as a member of the European Union, we must trade with equal opportunity and legislation with our European counterparts.  However we are of course still British, and we must not lose sight of the fact that our best selling assets are British quality, trust in performance and reliability in Europe and beyond.”