I am writing this en-route to Australia where we are trying to win our biggest project to date. So I’m in a particularly - but not unusual - optimistic mood. I sense more optimism around generally following the PM’s long awaited speech spelling out our Brexit aims and also her visit to USA.
Much of the left-leaning press blamed racism and ignorance for the leave vote, but I think the tipping point amongst many wavering voters was for an optimistic version of a future outside of Europe. It is now up to us as business leaders, designers, artists, manufacturers to produce the goods and services which the rest of the world, including Europe, want. And it is here that the Government can (and should) help and assist. The UKTI have been extremely helpful to our business in the past, helping us secure connections and commissions in Malaysia, Singapore, the Middle East and Australia, and we hope that this will continue to be the case.
We need to redouble our efforts to remain creative and competitive. Architects can help. At Weston Williamson our Friday Ideas presentations have produced a number of interesting ideas for products and businesses. Some of these involve innovations for urban cyclists, others for using the Thames better, many stem from our work in infrastructure. It would be great if there was some help and advice as to how we could team to get some of these developed and to market. In the 1980s, when we started Weston Williamson, the Design Council had an excellent scheme which helped new businesses, including their showcase building on Haymarket. It would be wonderful to see this revitalised. Britain leads the world in so many fields but sometimes fails to capitalise on her outstanding talents. For instance, most of the best racing cars are designed and produced in gather UK — but is the advanced technology developed for these amazing machines finding its way to our car industry? The government should ensure that this happens.
We need to redouble our efforts to remain creative and competitive. Architects can help.
I was in New York on the day of the vote (I had voted remain by post before I left). And my initial anger and disappointment — but not surprise — at the result was dissipated by a visit to MoMA. There I saw British art and British products as a timely reminder of what we are brilliant at. I tweeted that at the time along with the images below.
Here’s a tiny example: I am desperate to trade my 10 year old BMW for a hybrid or electric British car. But it seems I will have to wait until next year to find one — whereas the Europeans, Japanese and Koreans already have an amazing range. America has the same dilemma, but Trump doesn’t see it. The reason their cars and other goods aren’t selling is simply that others are better. Not tax or tariffs or subsidies. We as designers have to step up. We can do this — design goods and services which the rest of the world want.
Chris formed Weston Williamson with Andrew Weston in 1985 having previously worked in New York with Welton Becket and with Sir Michael Hopkins in London. Chris has taught at the DeMontford University and at the University of North London. Chris is currently a visiting professor at East London ...