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Archive for the ‘Hemingway Design Project’ Category

For three decades now I have been know as part of a design team that has been known as questioning, independent, and over the past decade or so, champions of social and sustainable thinking.

Over the last few years we have begun to work with large corporate organisations, not to feed turnover, but because it has become increasingly clear that because of the scale and investment available, bold initiatives can be undertaken.

The likes of Greenpeace and WWF (and the legions of small activists) have done wonderful jobs in hounding and naming and shaming corporations who have failed to take the environment, sustainability and ethical trading seriously. Their tireless campaigning has made a significant section of the public aware and helped to build a business environment where it makes business sense to “care”.

Whatever the tipping point has been, my overwhelming experience is of corporate who now hold sustainability, the environment and ethical thinking at their core. They have set up corporate responsibility departments and whole segments of the business who are dedicated to this thinking. They have employed directors who are zealous and “dedicated to the cause”, directors who have significant budgets at their disposal. They now have the economies of scale to really start to make a difference.

The work we are doing with McDonalds (in collaboration with up cycling and re use  specialists Worn Again)  in terms of working out a system that allows the uniforms of their 88,000 UK staff to eventually be able to be made into new material to make new uniforms ad infinitum is bold, industry leading and takes considerable investment.

The project we have with Coca Cola promoting their move towards plastic bottles that have significant PET content  (in simple terms plastic derived from sugar cane and molasses) is forward thinking , helps to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and ultimately, makes financial sense.

We learnt a decade ago, when we started working with (Taylor) Wimpey Homes that sustainable  projects of scale that resonate far and wide are much easier to deliver by collaborating with those that have most to gain (and to lose).

So it’s time for people to stop raising their eyebrows and look surprised that designers like us are choosing to work with the kind of corporations that the campaigning bodies that we support once hounded. Big Corporations are not The Devil incarnate they have an ability to lever their tremendous resources and some are now leading the way.

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Blogging can be wonderful addition to our lives, to information flow and as a release for our views. It can give an alternative unencumbered view that doesn’t have to tow the corporate line that some journalists have to tow.

I have just finished the process of being part of the team delivering the first Vintage at Goodwood   www.vintageatgoodwood.com It’s the first time that I have had chance to see in detail how the blogging community gets involved in the promotion of a product / event  and what an eye opener it’s been. The vast majority of bloggers are individuals who have a passion for a subject matter and just want to share their passion. But there is a small minority who are in danger of giving “blogging” a bad name. (more…)

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Back in 2002 when I was doing my twice weekly spot on The Big Breakfast I reviewed the early Digital Radio’s that were coming onto the market. I bought my first Digital Radio myself back then and immediately transformed by aural enjoyment of Test Match Special with a sound quality that considerably trumps Long and Medium waves (although that isn’t hard). It was back in 2002 that I first found 6 Music. Finally I had found the “soundtrack of our lives”. A wide church of a playlist that was eclectic, seemingly unfettered by a desire to reach a bloody heavily researched “target demographic”, that didn’t feel the need to be “down with the kids”, that didn’t feel the need to pander to crass celebrity culture, that treated music lovers with intelligence and broadened all musical knowledge.

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Looking back to the turn of the 80s when Gerardine and I started out… We’d never considered being designers, it wasn’t on the radar of two teenagers from Lancashire. I was playing in a band and we used to hang out in Camden. When Gerardine and I ran out of money to pay the rent on our house in Wembley, one saturday morning we emptied our wardrobes out of some of the second hand clothes that we both wore and some of the clothes that Gerardine had made for herself, put them into a couple of 50p checked chinese laundry bags and got the tube to Camden. For £6 rent we took over £100 and returned on the Sunday and for the next decade of Saturdays and Sundays. Camden taught us about peoples taste, retail and being entrepreneurs.

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I’ve mouthed off plenty of times about the importance of gardens to our well-being.The Chelsea Flower Show may come across sometimes as a bit pompous but I’m a big fan in that it’s the one outdoorsy event that gets wall to wall media coverage for a whole week.

This year Gerardine designed an exhibit at Chelsea 09 in conjunction with Gateshead Council… heres an extract from the press release….

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Its almost 8 years since I wrote the infamous Independent article, the “Wimpeyfication and Barrattification of Britain” tirade against Britain’s mass national housebuilders. I accused them of building the pastiche identikit rabbit hutches that were blighting the nation.

The housing  industry  has ridden  along on a 15 year giant bubble  fuelled by greed and stupidity by the mortgage lenders and a complicit public who couldn’t do the maths  (buying a “new build “house or flat has never outperformed cash investments over the long term). The bubble has thankfully burst now and whilst there is unfortunate  short term hurt I don’t think that developers will be rushing to build pokey “Buy to Let “ or “Buy to Leave Empty” investment properties mainly because the public are unlikely to be so foolish again. The good news then is that the public and local authorities who have seen their towns and cities blighted by flatted developments that now lie empty are likely to get something better: that’s when liquidity returns to the market. (more…)

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When some of us think of licensing we think of crappy cartoon characters plonked on basic mugs and pencil cases followed the following year by some TV characters plonked on the same mugs and same pencil cases.

When some of us think of celebrity we imagine some airhead who goes to the opening of a biscuit packet and then appears in Nuts or Hello. (more…)

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