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West End by Simon Carter

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Since 1985 when I sold my first product – a vintage brooch that I had copied in pewter, to the society jewellers Cobra and Bellamy, I have held fast to some core principles.

People often remark, whilst skirting round the difficult word ‘retro’ on the conspicuous presence of heritage and tradition in my work. There is a reason for this, a reason why I am often to be found mooching around at auctions and in antique shops – or thrift shops if you prefer.When Mies van Der Rohe designed his cantilever chair in 1927 there were two billion people in the world. Now there are something over seven billion. Design occupies an interesting point mid-way between aesthetics for aesthetics’ sake and pure utility. I guess all of us seven billion people need something to sit on, but the designer’s problem in addressing the question of how to add art to the purely functional has become that much harder in a world where the sheer exigency of needing, stuff, for everyone begins to erode an important preface to choice and consumption – discernment.In the old days, as it were, utility and beauty could be more easily aligned. More time available to conceive things with sufficient regard paid to how long it might all take, then design and construct in such a way that the integrity of the design and its construction were of a piece. Harmony of form and function – what every serious designer should aim for. Human ingenuity will overcome most obstacles but the problem of how to supply the world with the objects it needs without compromising on taste looks like a tough one.Taste is important. Without it we will end up surrounded by flat pack furniture, ‘hospital corridor’ art and Euro-box cars, designed by committee, regulated by commission and screwed together by robots. If indeed we are not already there.


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