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Good design isn’t a luxury
Good design isn’t a luxury

Terence Conran, who died last week, took his time changing my life.

In 1964 he set up Habitat, founded on his passionate belief that good design wasn’t an esoteric concept for aesthetes and the well-off, but could and should be a part of life for everyone.

On his travels, he’d seen exotic ideas such as the wok, and the duvet, and brought them back to the UK. And his sales talent meant that he could popularise these ideas, sell in large numbers, and so be affordable.

All of this, though, passed my parents by. I didn’t see a wok, or a duvet, or a Habitat-style piece of furniture, until a long time later, when I left home.

Terence Conran’s philosophy was that design was for the many, not the few. He believed that you could lead, not just follow, public taste, and the great commercial success of Habitat stores proved him right.

As the Guardian’s Suzanne Moore wrote, “We all have a little bit of Conran in our lives, whether we think about design or not. He instigated a revolution in taste that changed our ideas about what our homes could be, about what eating out should be, about what matters.”

At Hope, at our end of the design game, we’re concerned with graphic design. And we have the same imperatives – make things that look good and work well.

Good design is a form of respect. We have to have respect for the people we sell our causes to. They might not express it as such, but they know the difference between something which is attractive and coherently designed, and something which is a mess.

And if we show that respect, we’ll be repaid – in loyalty, in goodwill, and in hard cash.

Michael Isaacs

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