§ 2.45 p.m.
§ LORD PEDDIE rose to call attention to the Annual Report of the Council of Industrial Design and to stress the importance of encouraging original industrial design as a factor in the stimulation of British exports and improvement of Home standards; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I believe this is the first time that the subject of industrial design has been discussed in this House. I recognise, as many noble Lords will, that a great number of people to-day consider design as being concerned solely with appearance and æsthetic qualities. During the course of my comments I shall not make much reference to the artistic aspect, because I think there are many who are far more qualified so to do. It is my intention to deal almost exclusively with the economic aspect of design and to endeavour to bring a sense of reality into one's assessment of industrial design.
§ I believe that the people and the Government to-day recognise the need for greater economic production, recognise it as the basis of our economic strength and the key to a higher standard of living. This has been reflected over the past years in many debates in your Lordships' House on the subjects of production, management, automation, research and so on. All are important; but they are not all-embracing. I fear that there has been a tendency in the past to emphasise volume terms of production. Volume is not enough; there must be the right type of production. For that, and that alone, creates the value with which we are more particularly concerned in terms of export sales. There lies the basic reason for this debate: to draw attention to the true significance of industrial design and the substantial contribution that the 1184 Council of Industrial Design have made and are making towards the recognition of greater appreciation of industrial design to-day.
§ I cannot deny that there has in recent years been some improvement in the general standard of industrial design, and I know that some of our traditional products attract overseas buyers; but I think one could state, with regret, that there is no industry in this country today which could claim that our designs are universally acknowledged as being the best in the world. Therefore that, and that alone, justifies a measure of criticism, and particularly a criticism of the management attitude, which I believe carries a high measure of responsibility. Yet, at the same time, it is interesting to note that Britain has the longest interest in the subject of industrial design, or industrial art as it was once called, and this is not surprising, because of our long industrial history. Going back to the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, we find that in 1754 the Royal Society of Arts offered prizes for good design in employment, trade and manufacture. But later good taste and æsthetic qualities were submerged in the avalanche of solid production arising out of the Industrial Revolution. The Great Exhibition of 1881 showed only one concession to design, and it was the engraved decorative rosebuds on various products.
We have never truly and fully escaped from that experience. I believe the true purpose, by modern conception, of industrial design was expressed in 1915 when the Design and Industries Association (and I quote):
Sought to harmonise right design and manufacturing efficiency"—
and expressed the thesis—
that the first necessity of sound design is fitness for use.
This view is the basis of my comments.
§ I believe that, if we accept this definition, it destroys the prejudice against increased attention to industrial design to-day. I believe that bad design in industrial products is the greatest single cause of economic waste, industrial loss and the relative fall in overseas sales. I am certain that there are many industrial and manufacturing organisations in this country to-day which, if the truth could be expressed, would be able 1185 to declare that they have time and again suffered substantial losses, merely because they are not capable, or are not willing, to produce goods of the right design. I will save the blushes of British manufacturers by merely making reference to the American experience of the Edsel Ford car, which mechanically had everything, which supposedly met every requirement the consumer could expect, but which, because of bad design, resulted in a loss of millions of dollars.
§ It is interesting to note that the National Economic Development Council quite recently indicated the necessity for greater attention to the general design of products if we were to increase our exports. I know that noble Lords in this House have time and time again expressed their faith in scientific research. We all recognise the need for it, but it is not the sole instrument of progress. It is true that it is necessary to extend the boundary of scientific knowledge, but it is equally necessary to ensure the best use of our existing resources. And I believe that the exploitation of our existing resources is the major means to secure a higher standard of living in the decades ahead.
I think that it could be established that markets have been lost through lack of recognition that good design is as important as, if not more important than, soundness of material. Slick salesmanship is no compensation for bad design. It is interesting to refer to the Fielden Report on Engineering Design, published recently. It expressed the view that
Britain's share of international trade in engineering goods has been declining. In spite of some notable successes, many British products are being out-classed in performance, reliability and sales appeal. Imports of machinery have been increasing.
Engineering goods are sold on the merits of their performance, reliability, appearance, delivery and price. And, as the Report indicates, design determines most and affects all of these factors. The Report goes on to state:
There is evidence that the importance of design is not sufficiently appreciated by management of engineering businesses.
I could refer to the comment made by the Economist, following the publication of the Fielden Report, which shared the view that design standards in British engineering were too low and called for
a higher assessment of the services of design engineers. Incidentally, they comment on the fact that they know of only one company in this country that pays its industrial engineer designers more than its research engineers. It is of real significance to note that that one firm is the Rolls Royce Company, with a world-wide reputation, with a great tradition and a thrusting modernity.
§ The Fielden Report urged the raising of the standards of design. It is interesting to see the position to-day as indicated by the published survey of the University of South Wales, which found that 47 per cent. of engineers earning from £1,800 to £2,900 were in management and only 8 per cent. in engineering design. The position is equally bad in consumer design. A friend of mine told me recently about having the experience of calling upon a designer in the pottery industry. He was not available in his studio. He was in the packing room, where he was expected to assist when he was not busy designing the pots. I think that that is the general attitude of mind of many of our manufacturers.
§ I believe that design in industry was never more important than it is to-day. Since the war there has been great development in design in those countries with which we compete for the world's markets, and world competition is getting fiercer. To-day in Tilbury a Japanese ship will dock, the Sakura Maru", which cost £2½ million to build, and which is designed exclusively as an exhibition ship. She will carry 400 displays and will show Japanese capital and consumer goods all over the world. In contrast, the British Government's expenditure on overseas exhibitions, so far as I can ascertain, has never been more than £875,000 a year. Increased competition and easier access on the part of other countries to raw materials and new methods of production make one realise that the design of products becomes increasingly important, in terms of both the influence on the production of goods and the attraction of the product. Thus, the imaginative designer is essential to countries like Britain. Recently, the Export Council for Europe stated that the firms most successful in exports are those which make a careful study of the consumers' requirements and this includes, they state, right design.1187
§ I know that there are many established industries in this country which are proud of their tradition, but, unfortunately, they are beginning to make the tradition a straitjacket. In Sheffield, for example, the cutlery industry is rightly proud of its great reputation for quality. But it is now feeling the competition of Scandinavian production. That challenge, cannot be met by dependence on tradition; nor is it sound policy to copy slavishly the Scandinavian designs. It is necessary to evolve new designs that reflect national characteristics together with modern trends. It is my belief that all too many producers of consumer goods do little to cultivate better standards, and all too many manufacturers underestimate the standards that consumers expect. It is fundamentally wrong to assume that good design is associated with expensive goods only. In many cases the responsibility for the maintenance of this assumption is that of the manufacturer himself. I believe that the opposite should be the case, because well-designed goods are simple in form, and productionwise are more economic of effort and of materials, and therefore should in the long run be less expensive.
§ It is regrettable that in this country, at least, industrial design is mentally closely identified with art. The hardheaded businessman seems to recoil from this. But in Scandinavia the term is more often used and accepted as a component of industrial thinking and of everyday life, and this is reflected in the quality of their products. I would comment on the Scandinavian Design Cavalcade, which year after year shows the products of the Scandinavian countries, stimulating home standards and having its influence on exports. Design, I suppose, basically appeals to the eye and to the sense of good taste, but I am pleased that it has also a strong and practical aspect, in that it not only involves State consumer requirements but is an integral part of the whole process of production. In my view, that is a factor which too many British manufacturers fail to appreciate. Modern industrial design is far more fundamental than mere styling. I believe that it is a basic and dangerous error to assume that it is simply an expensive 1188 appendage to the product or glossy package.
§ I hope that the discussion in this House—and there are many far more qualified than I am who will be taking part in the debate—will destroy the illusion that design management is an expensive luxury. I believe that the basic aspects of industrial design are to design so that the product functions efficiently; that, by choice of materials and design of their conformation, the cost of material is kept as low as possible; that choice of materials and design of components reflect the maximum effort to minimise cost. When these criteria are satisfied the problem of achieving clean and attractive design is more simple, because extraneous matter has been eliminated.
§ It is interesting to note—and I think this is of tremendous importance—that in the United States of America, and in the case of a number of progressive companies in this country, a recognition of the fundamental purpose of industrial design is seen in a new and important tool of management, a new method of design study called "value engineering". It is aimed at reducing the cost of production and maximising utility and attraction of product. Basically it is used as an orderly process of reasoning which permits the breakdown of engineering design into a detailed study of effect evaluation of component function. I regard this design analysis as a most significant development. It has been demonstrated in the United States as being so valuable in securing cost reduction and good engineering design that to-day it is absolutely necessary to have design engineers capable of this approach in order to secure United States Government contracts. I have no intention of introducing any political discord into this debate, but I would express the view that recent experience demonstrates the necessity that similar approach should be taken by our own Government when great orders are being placed.
§ I know that to-day management techniques have many fancy names, and we engaged in commerce tend to be a little cynical about them. In this computer age and "O. and M." period we see the growth of many mystiques which operate like a magician's circle; unless you know the jargon you are not accepted into 1189 membership; and the more involved the jargon, the greater is the air of mystery, and, presumably, the greater the fee of those likely to be involved in these new techniques. But there is no doubt that value engineering in relation to industrial design has demonstrated its value without any air of mystery and has become almost standard industrial technique to-day in the United States and, to some extent, among progressive firms here. While I was preparing for this debate, I had some discussion with one of the largest and most successful manufacturers of durable goods in this country. They informed me that they had found that good industrial design cut the cost of materials and labour by 10 per cent.; and that was achieved by a constant review of basic designs in the light of the latest material and production technology. Imagine what could happen to British production costs and the possibilities of increasing our export trade and strengthening our competition if that could be claimed by the majority of concerns in this country to-day!
§ Yet it is recognised that at its highest good design is an expression of creative genius. Britain has never been short of human material endowed with imaginative faculty capable of giving a lead; but I think even genius needs encouragement. We have to dispense with the attitude that the designer merely adds a bit of styling. I believe that there is an increasing indication of a group awareness of the importance of this subject, and the Financial Times is to be congratulated upon the large supplement dealing with industrial design which was published recently.
§ The Council of Industrial Design, under the direction of Mr. Paul Reilly, has since 1944, when the Council was first established, played an enormous part in increasing that awareness. It is interesting to note from the Report (which I hope all noble Lords will read) that it makes certain points that are of enormous importance. The Council point out that the years ahead are years of opportunity for British designers. They say that we are going through a period of great social and industrial change, and a revolution in buying habits; that there are prospects of great programmes of investment; and all this together with a public unrest at the prevailing mediocrity in design. They also 1190 point out (and I think this is very significant from the Government's standpoint) that foreign designers did not achieve their success single-handed, but were stimulated by imaginative manufacturers and by their Governments. The Report goes on to indicate and emphasise the need to replace the lowest-tender mentality with something more constructive, and to secure higher value, which involves persuading people to produce and buy, not down to price but up to a standard. So the whole of the Report urges the need for higher design standards, better training and for industry to give more attention to the problem of design management; and it urges greater pressure on the Government and local authorities to raise the standard of design in bulk purchasing, because the influence of corporate buying, for good or ill, is enormous in the economic as well as in the social spheres.
§ What are we to do about it? We recognise that there is need for great improvement. We recognise the significance of industrial design, and the need to encourage it, if we are to play a greater part in the export trade. We also recognise that when dealing with human skill, imagination and creative faculty there is no easy road to progress. I agree that we cannot solve problems of this character by legal enactment, because so much depends on the mind and attitude of industrialists and buyers as well as the Government. Nevertheless, we do not exonerate the Government from responsibility, because they can play a part, by example and inspiration, and by assisting in the provision of more training facilities. The Government should increase their support to design institutions that encourage public interest in the sphere.
§ It is fair to mention that in recent years some Government Departments have demonstrated their increasing awareness of industrial design. The Post Office is collaborating more closely with the Council of Industrial Design. The Ministry of Works have made some improvement, but they still have a long way to travel. One can appreciate this when it is realised that in furniture and furnishings alone the Ministry of Works spend £3 million a year for use at home, and some £500,000 for our Embassies abroad. Imagine what influence can be exercised on the development of 1191 standards by a better recognition of the need for a higher standard of design on those products which have been purchased! I do not know just how much is expended by the Ministry of Health on all the hospitals; but if we take buildings, and the furnishings of hospitals, where people are compelled to live on occasions for a comparatively long period of time, the total is a fantastic sum. Imagine the influence if the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health both had the full recognition of the necessity for lifting the general design standard. Britain cannot rest on its historical tradition, and I believe that it is dangerous for a trading nation like ourselves to get the reputation of being an Old Curiosity Shop. It may be good for the Travel Board—I have no doubt it is—but it will win no reputation of British goods. Therefore, while one might have some sympathy with the attitude of the Travel Board, their propaganda is not in the best interests of British industry.
§ Design requirements should be given far higher priority in Government contracts. I know that some purchasing authorities have design panels. but that is not true of all. But this activity, I feel, must increase. Local authorities and the Government are the greatest single buyers of consumer and durable goods in this country. Their attention to design could offer enormous influence upon public appreciation and design policy of manufacturers. I believe that, so far as local authorities are concerned, no purchasing officer employed by a local authority should be appointed unless he has some appreciation of design elements. In this field I am certain that the Council of Industrial Design could assist. I believe that it is necessary to step up substantially the work of the Council of Industrial Design, and to extend its activities into industries not at present covered by the Design Centre, capital goods and engineering industries.
§ One would hope that there would be opportunity for the presentation of awards for the best design in capital and engineering goods, similar to the award for consumer goods awarded by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. This development into capital goods, which is so necessary to the future of 1192 this country, would, I think, justify a closer association between the Council and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. There has been an indication over the years of the enormous influence of the Council, particularly through the Design Centre, for I understand that no fewer than 2,600 people pass through the Centre each day. With the improvement in British standards, which I hope will follow, there could be stepped up overseas exhibitions to create an overseas awareness and stimulate British producers. I am glad of the fact that the Board of Trade and the Export Council for Europe have invited the Council of Industrial Design to participate in the exhibitions in Düsseldorf and Copenhagen.
§ Basically—and this is my last point—the real factor lies in education. Much more needs to be done in the education of industrial designers, who at present are all too few, particularly in the field of engineering. I believe that in all engineering courses the elements of design should be part of the curriculum. In Britain to-day there are only 250 engineering industrial designers at eight colleges taking a full-time course in industrial design for engineering. Without basic education we cannot hope to lift design standards. A design student's curriculum must not be confined to art and the ability to draw. Modern standards demand knowledge of mathematics, of the properties of materials, of basic engineering, quality control and production methods. In this field of education it is encouraging to see that the Royal College of Art, which in the past has emphasised the fine arts, is now recognising the need for greater attention to the problem of industrial design. I understand that the Royal College will shortly be raised to university status. I am also stimulated to learn of the proposal for a University on Design and Technology in North Middlesex. I think it is an idea which need not run counter to the development of the Royal College of Art. This is a proposition which demands close examination on the part of the Government, for it is a new conception in which designers, engineers, teachers and architects would receive graduate training, and associate and work together with the full curriculum allied to industry and commerce.1193
§ I end with the comment that, with the raising of living standards, there will be developed almost spontaneously on the part of the mass of the people a desire for something better. It becomes the responsibility of industrialists, manufacturers and the Government to see that that demand is met. It is necessary for us to recognise that good design is good business and carries with it a commendable social objective. I hope that, as a result of this discussion in this House to-day, there will be sufficient stimulus to ensure that these desirable objectives are achieved at an early date. I beg to move for Papers.
§ Moved, That there be laid before the House Papers relating to the Annual Report of the Council of Industrial Design and to the importance of encouraging original industrial design as a factor in the stimulation of British exports and improvement of home standards.—(Lord Peddie.)
§ 3.16 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, BOARD OF TRADE (LORD DRUMALBYN)
My Lords, I am sure I speak for all your Lordships when I express the thanks of the House to the noble Lord for having raised to-day this question of industrial design associated with, and in the context of, the Council of Industrial Design, and for the extremely interesting and admirable speech with which he has opened this debate. At one stage in what he had to say, he asked: what is to be done? My reason for intervening at this stage is that I think it may be helpful to your Lordships if I say now what is being done, particularly by the Council of Industrial Design (and this is, I think, the first time that their Report has been debated) and with the assistance of the Council of Industrial Design.
I should like to start by going back a little into history in order to put the whole question of design into perspective. I do not propose to go quite so far back as 1754, but I should like to say this. The importance of industrial design has not always been recognised. For the fact that it is to-day, our thanks are largely due to the Council of Industrial Design, whose Report we are now considering. For its origins, we have to look back to the years between the wars, because at that time people were increas- 1194 ingly coming to see that in industrial products there should be a direct relation between function and appearance; that though the function was mundane, line and proportion were not unimportant, and that the artist had a contribution to make which was more fundamental than the role of superficial decorator to which the hard-headed industrialists of the nineteenth century had often relegated him—more fundamental, to quote the words of the noble Lord, than the role of adding a "bit of styling". I agree very much with the noble Lord that design is an integral part of production, and should be treated as such.
It was in 1935 that an exhibition of British Art in Industry was organised by the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Academy. That exhibition not only did much to foster co-operation between artists and industry; it also attracted public attention to the subject. Shortly afterwards, the Council for Art and Industry was set up, with a small grant from the Treasury and with the main task of surveying the field of industrial design. In 1936 the new profession of "industrial designer" was formally recognised, which is less than thirty years ago, when the Royal Society of Arts founded the distinction of Royal Designer for Industry. Eleven were originally appointed. There are now 48, and in addition there are thirteen honorary foreign holders of the distinction.
The war-time Coalition Government foresaw that exporting in the post-war world was going to be a much more competitive business than anything we had known before. They first set up the Central Design Council under the Board of Trade, which would, among other functions, carry on a permanent exhibition of the best of modern design. In December, 1944, the Council of Industrial Design and its Scottish Committee were formed with terms of referenceto promote by all practicable means the improvement of design in the products of British industry".It was in 1946 that the Council first came before the public with the "Britain Can Make It" Exhibition, intended to draw attention to the need for higher standards of design in post-war production. In 1948, and for the next three years, the Council turned the major part of their energies to the Festival of Britain Exhibition, 1195 particularly the selection and display of manufactured exhibits. In 1956 came the establishment of the Design Centre in Haymarket. The following year the Design Centre in Glasgow was opened.
The Design Centre in Haymarket, as noble Lords will know, provides permanent, but changing, exhibition of durable consumer goods selected by the Council from Design Index. The Design Index is a record, with photographs or samples, of some 10,000 products chosen by the Council's Selection Committees as examples of enterprising and original design, and, as the noble Lord said, the number of people who visit the Design Centre averages over 2,500 a day. The choice of these products for Design Index is made from products submitted by manufacturers, and since 1961 the Centre in Glasgow has been conducted on similar lines. Smaller design centres, with duplicate copies of Design Index, have recently been set up in Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester, with financial support from local interests. The design centres are the hubs of the Council's work. They are linked with, and backed up by, a wide range of activities.
Perhaps I may now say a word about the aims, activities and methods of the Council. First, the Council are trying to get manufacturers to see that, as the noble Lord said, good design is good business. They try to convince firms that it is in their interest to employ qualified designers and to give them their proper place in the managerial structure. To help manufacturers to find suitable designers, the Council maintain a record of designers from which, for a small fee, the Council will provide a short list of designers knowledgeable on any particular type of product or problem. The Council also encourage manufacturers to submit products for inclusion in Design Index, as I have said, and for exhibition at the Design Centre.
Where a product has been rejected, they send one of their industrial officers to visit the factory and explain why. As a result he may be asked to recommend a designer to the firm. The industrial officers are constantly visiting factories' drawing offices and showrooms to discuss design problems with firms. These visits also assist the Council to see in which industries help is particularly 1196 needed and to consider what form the help should take. The Council also run design appreciation courses for engineers. Four such courses were held last year, for heads and members of engineering design offices.
The Council have no direct responsibility for the training of industrial designers, but there can be no doubt that they have exercised a considerable influence in encouraging young people to take up industrial design as a career. As the noble Lord said, the basic education of a designer is of the highest importance. The whole field of education for art and design is one in which developments are taking place very fast since the Coldstream Committee first reported on Art Education in 1960. We recognise the importance of this and there is no doubt that both the D.S.I.R. and the Ministry of Education recognise it, place very high value on it and give it every support, and we shall watch the progress of the new diploma and post-diploma courses in three-dimensional design with the greatest of interest.
The second main direction in which the activities of the Council go is to try to encourage a progressive attitude towards design among retailers and their customers, and the recognition that the pressure for good design must come, to a large extent, from the users and from the trade. For example, the Council hold special exhibitions in large towns, one of which, "The Design Centre comes to Leeds", is described in the Report to which the noble Lord referred. An exhibition of this kind is made the occasion for a general drive to interest everybody in the area in design, with television publicity, discussions, lectures, visits by schools and professional people, and so forth. The Council also organiise exhibitions in big retail stores, sometimes also linked with a major design promotion in the area or with exhibitions at the Design Centre, for example, the exhibition of the Design Centre Awards.
In this connection, your Lordships may be aware of two Awards given each year to encourage good design. First, there is the Duke of Edinburgh's Prize for Elegant Design. This is awarded to the designer of a product, selected by a panel over which His Royal Highness presides. Secondly, there are the Design Centre 1197 Awards made to the manufacturers of up to twenty products selected by an independent panel. The Prize and the Awards are presented by the Duke of Edinburgh at a special ceremony, which this year took place in Manchester at the College of Science and Technology.
The third main direction of the Council's activities is in seeking to persuade buyers in the Services and other Government Departments, local authorities, hotels, hospitals, offices, transport undertakings and other large organisations to give serious thought to the design of what they buy. As the noble Lord has said, this can have an immense influence on the appreciation of design in the country as a whole, and I think the noble Lord will be interested to know that this is one of the points on which the Council of Industrial Design are concentrating at the present time.
In 1961 the Council held a Congress of Corporate Buying at which about 200 delegates from Government purchasing departments, local authorities, industry, including nationalised undertakings, and the hotel and catering industries were brought together. The Council view courses for retailers, planned to help them to appreciate the factors in good design and also to bring them into contact with manufacturers, as an important part of their functions. The courses are residential and include visits to factories. Apart from what may be called "publicity" activities, the Council aim at educating everybody they can reach, from schoolchildren upwards, in the importance of the appreciation of design. If I may be allowed to say so, I think I have personally benefited from that education. The Report records that in 1962–63 the Council organised several hundred group visits to the Design Centre, involving some 10,000 people in all, and that they either themselves gave, or arranged for lecturers from a panel to give, the best part of 1,000 talks.
My Lords, last but not least, the Council publish a monthly magazine Design in which there are articles on all aspects of design, new products are reviewed, and so forth. The Council regard this magazine as one of their most most effective ways in which to get manufacturers to think constructively and originally about their products. In this connection, I think it is worth adding 1198 that when the Council were considering the Awards for this year they called for more truly creative work which, as they said, wouldoffer something more than fitness for purpose, sound manufacture and pleasant appearance.The noble Lord, Lord Peddie, has referred to industrial design as a factor in the stimulation of exports. This, of course, was one of the reasons why the war-time Government decided to set up a Council of Industrial Design. It was realised then that to keep our position in world trade we must keep abreast of developments in design. It is, of course, not the Council's job to engage in export promotion as such. Their role is to encourage new ideas and modern design in goods produced in this country. A critical and well-informed public taste at home is important if our manufacturers are to have well-designed goods to offer in competitive export markets.
The council does have a part to play, however, in winning a reputation for this country in the world at large. At present, Britain relies to a great extent on exports of well-tried and traditional lines. But that is not enough; we must also be recognised as a country where lively contemporary work can be found. So the Council often display goods for which there is as yet no great demand, confident that the market for new designs will grow as the taste for them becomes more widespread. We have to ensure that wherever British goods are displayed overseas, the best of the forward-looking designs are brought before the public as well as our traditional products. The Council have arranged displays in retail stores in several countries, including Japan and the United States of America. But their main contribution is in selecting goods for the British stands at overseas fairs and for use in British weeks, such as the one at Dusseldorf last month to which the noble Lord referred, which was an undoubted success. As their Report shows, the Council have helped in many ways in export promotion activities, ranging from Tokyo to San Francisco and from Stockholm to Melbourne. The Council are also preparing an exhibition for Moscow to open in August. Its principal aim will be to show the part which the industrial designer plays in this country. Similar exhibitions have been held 1199 in Prague and Warsaw, and attracted a good deal of interest.
Perhaps the most useful opportunity for the Council to enhance the reputation of this country in international design is offered by the Milan Triennale, the leading exhibition in the world for industrial design, with a far-reaching influence in both architecture and design. Each exhibition has a unifying theme which is treated in different ways in the various national pavilions. In 1960 the theme was "Home and School", and my noble friend Lord Eccles, who was then Minister of Education, arranged for a complete prefabricated primary school to be displayed. It was a school developed by the Nottinghamshire County Council on the CLASP system and it gained the Premier Award. This year's Triennale, which opened a few days ago, has as its theme "The Uses of Leisure"—a subject which your Lordships recently debated. The Council of Industrial Design and the Board of Trade, have collaborated in presenting a British pavilion which I believe illustrates this theme admirably, and also shows some of the many articles this country produces to make more of leisure time.
As a result of what has been done, many British firms already recognise the importance to them of the latest developments in design, and have been well able to hold their own with design-conscious competitors in other countries. But undoubtedly much still remains to be done, as the noble Lord suggested. In particular, there is more to do in the capital goods field. Even in the consumer goods industries, some firms are still content to rely solely on traditional lines. I would not for a moment decry well-established designs, but it would be unwise to assume that they will sell for ever. If we are to keep our place in the export markets for consumer durables, it will not be enough merely to offer the best we have produced so far; we have continually to produce new ideas as well.
This, of course, is one of the justifications for finding public money for the work of the Council of Industrial Design, in competition with the many other calls on the public purse. The grant to the Council last year was £250,000. To enable the Council to expand their work in various directions, we have increased 1200 the grant to £325,000 in the current year. Many of the Council's activities earn money—indeed, in total nearly as much as we have been providing by way of grant. The Council's total turnover this year is likely to be over half a million pounds. With their increased resources the Council will be able to develop their direct impact on industry, especially in the capital goods sector. Hitherto, the Council have had only one member of the staff working exclusively in that field, but the response from manufacturers, technical colleges and designers has been so encouraging that it is proposed to engage more staff.
Linked in part with this development, the increased vote will enable the Council also to equip additional exhibition space at the Design Centre. In this space, they are planning to hold a series of "thematic" exhibitions, with the object of showing manufacturers how the industrial designer can be of service in the design of such products as aircraft, vehicles, machine tools, scientific instruments, and so on. In this new development the Council are working in close co-operation with the Federation of British Industries and the D.S.I.R. as well as the British Productivity Council. We shall await its outcome with great interest. Capital goods account for a quarter of our total exports, so that this is a subject that we cannot afford to neglect. We cannot afford not to concern ourselves with the impression that capital goods make on our customers, and indeed where performance is just about equal it is very often appearance that can be the decisive factor in selling. This increase of £75,000 in the Government grant, substantial as it is, was not sufficient to provide for all the activities which the Council would have liked to undertake.
In conclusion, I should like to say that I agree very much with the Council's belief that the mid-1960s could be years of great opportunity for British design and British designers. This country has a tradition of experiment, development and self-renewal—an openness to new ideas, from whatever quarter they may come. We should seize every opportunity to demonstrate this vitality in British design both at home and abroad, and there is not the slightest doubt that the degree of vitality is increasing. I think noble Lords will agree that the 1201 Report we have be fore us this afternoon records an immense amount and variety of work in pursuit of that objective. I am confident that this intensity of effort is being maintained.
I thought it right to say what is being done, particularly by the Council of Industrial Design, as a background for this debate, in which so many noble Lords who have distinguished themselves not only at the Board of Trade but also in the Council of Industrial Design are to take part. I would say that a sound indication of the prestige of a public body is the willingness of men and women of the highest distinction to serve on it. The Government are most grateful to Sir Duncan Oppenheim and the other distinguished members of the Council, past and present, for giving so much of their time to such good effect. The Council are certainly very fortunate in their director, Mr. Paul Reilly who, incidentally, was awarded the Bicentenary Medal for 1963 by the Royal Society of Arts. Perhaps the best impartial tribute to the Council, and something that shows that we are not so backward in this situation as some would have us believe—and, indeed, very far from being backward, we are in the lead—is to be found in the extent to which other countries are modelling their own institution on the lines established by the Council, and in the extent to which advice and guidance are sought from overseas. Of course, the interest and emulation of foreign countries means that competition will be keener than ever and that we cannot afford to relax our efforts.
At least we can take comfort from the fact that the task of encouraging design is in good hands; and, looking to the future, I am sure your Lordships will agree that that work, which is of such great importance to Britain as a manufacturing country, is in good hands. I am grateful to your Lordships for allowing me to say, as a background to this debate, what is being done. If your Lordships will permit me, I shall naturally be glad later to pick up the points that are made in the course of the debate.
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ LORD LLEWELYN-DAVIES
My Lords, I shall confine myself this after- 1202 noon to talking about one aspect of the problem which the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, has raised—namely, the education of designers, and in particular the education of designers who work in the field of industrial design, because I think, as the noble Lord brought out in his opening speech, that the field of industrial design, that is, the design of the products of manufacturing industry, is probably the most vital of all the fields from the point of view of the national economy and the success of our nation in coming years.
I should like to say that I entirely agree with, and support, the noble Lord's definition of good design as "fitness for purpose"; and when I talk about the education of designers I shall be talking about their education to do this sort of design. I also agree with his broad view that we cannot at the present time claim such pre-eminence as we might rightly wish to claim for this country's design in the international field, and that this is not as satisfactory as it should be and that more remains to be done to make it so.
I should like to refer to the one example quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, of the great international success achieved by British design which was the famous school exhibited at the Milan Triennale. I cannot refrain from saying that, of course, this great success was achieved by architects and had little to do with industrial design as we are discussing it this afternoon.
This failure to achieve world-wide pre-eminence was not always so. In Lisbon, in Portugal, there is a fascinating museum which has horse-drawn coaches and carriages. It is an international museum, and it is the only one of its kind in the world. I went round it not long ago. You proceed through a vast collection of the most magnificent objects—gilt baroque, carriages with angels blowing trumpets from every corner, absolutely magnificent coaches which had even travelling lavatories. These are the coaches of Italy, Sweden, Spain and other countries. They are huge, vast masses of wood and ornament. At the very end of the exhibition you come, rather to your surprise, tucked away in a corner, on the one and only example of British design. This is an eighteenth century British carriage, and it is incomparably better than all the others. 1203 When you see this carriage you suddenly experience the same sensation as we had when we saw the Comet compared to the old piston-engined aircraft. Here was a carriage which was really fit for its purpose. For every member of the Italian and French carriages which is cut out of baulks of timber, this has a beautiful, tapered, engineered piece of timber, of exactly the right tension at every point for the load it had to bear. This carriage is a quarter of the weight, and I think it would have beaten the others to an absolute standstill at Le Mans, if there had been a Le Mans for carriages in the eighteenth century. And going round this exhibition, as an Englishman, you are struck with enormous pride that there was a technology and a standard of design that left the contemporary Continental design absolutely at the starting post.
This was designed in the eighteenth century. What has happened since? Well, since then, of course, we have had the Industrial Revolution and the split which the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, referred to between art and technology, art and engineering, art and industry; and this split, which is really an imaginary split in the minds of men and not a split in the way of thinking or of acting, has bedevilled us ever since. A most interesting book has recently been published by Professor Quintin Bell in which he describes the history of schools of design, and he shows how this dilemma between the fine arts and practice bedevilled our thinking about design, and how to train designers from the Industrial Revolution to the present day. I do not believe that we have really completely cleared this misconception from our minds.
To-day we have the Council of Industrial Design, and their work in this field is magnificent. But the majority of the people who are being trained to fill this gap in our national life in industry to-day are being trained under what is known as the Diploma in Arts and Design, which has recently been set up as a result of the Coldstream Report. This diploma has as its foundation stone the belief that the fine arts are the basic disciplines for design. This is not really discussed or debated in the Report; it is more or less taken for granted and 1204 I do not think myself that this is quite a sufficient basis. It may be satisfactory in certain fields, in what is known as two-dimensional design, but the moment you come into three-dimensional design, into design where you are concerned with objects that people use, that they sit on, tools, the things they get into and out of, then the fine arts are not the basis on which the training of such designers should be built.
The numbers of people in the present Dip.A.D. category who are going to be industrial designers in the engineering field are terrifyingly small. My figures are perhaps from a different source from that of the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, and they are even more gloomy. I understand that in the 1963–64 intake only about 50-plus students are expected to emerge in the field of industrial design from the course for the Diploma in Art and Design; and if we add to them those taking the rather different and, I believe, fine course in the Royal College of Art, we add another 12, but this is a very small number indeed. Of the colleges operating the Diploma in Art and Design, which number 29, on my reckoning only about 6 are offering the courses in industrial design for engineering, and I do not believe that this is going to fill the bill.
We have, therefore, on the one hand, a fantastically small number of designers coming through trained in art schools for the Diploma in Art and Design. We also have the useful appreciation courses which the C.O.I.D. have organised for engineers—Bridging the Gap is the name of the pamphlet, appropriately enough, I think. But I am afraid that it leaves a gap, because, on the one hand, we should have leading engineers, heads of industry, who have had a course of a week or two designed to make them less prejudiced than they may otherwise have been about what designs can do; on the other hand, we should have about 25 or so young men emerging from the Dip.A.D. course; and I do not really believe that this is going to solve our problems.
I want to turn aside for a moment and talk about a possible side-track or wrong course which industrial design risks taking, not merely in this country but in all other countries in the world. 1205 To do so I want to tell the story of the American automobile industry based on Detroit. Until the slump in America the automobile industry brought out a new model when it had a new technological advance. When they brought out a new model it was a different car, with a different chassis, different engine and so on. But after the slump there was a major change of policy, and the great automobile companies decided that they could not go on "monkeying about" with engines, transmission and suspension, but at the same time they thought that it would not do not to make new models. For this reason the American automobile industry are the greatest employers of designers in the world today. Their designers' task is to design in obsolescence by fashion. When you buy a new model there you are buying a differently shaped fin pointing in a different direction, but underneath is the same old engine, the same old suspension, and the same old brakes which the old model had.
That is what we do not want from industrial design. We do not want its main rôle in industry to be the engineering of artificial obsolescence. We see in the Citroen and Volkswagen, foreign as they are, the correct use of designers, and the change in fins to be an incorrect use. It is extremely important, when we think about the education of our designers, to think about the basic sciences and fundamental attitudes which a professional designer should have to prevent his becoming perhaps the unwitting instrument of this artificial obsolescence by fashion. Here I think we see the value of an education which is to some extent university-based and has certain basic scientific and arts disciplines as a fundamental underlayer for the skills which are required in design.
There are, of course, big changes in taste over a period of years. It is not true that there is a perfectly right design which never changes. We must accept that there are certain long-range changes. We all know the old Gothic buildings, with their tall pointed roofs in the early Gothic period, when all the knights and crusaders and their ladies whom we see pictured were very tall, with pointed hats and long thin legs. We all know that later on, in the late Gothic period, for example, in King's Chapel, the arches grew flatter, 1206 King Henry VIII stood in a stolid fashion, his breeches grew much wider and his hat was very flat. These changes pass through the world of design, and it is wrong to expect designers or anyone else to be independent of them. We are none of us independent of this. Some of us may have been wearing wide trousers in the days when the Prince of Wales wore plus-fours. We now wear narrower ones. There is a long-range wave in taste and character which is part of design, and sensitivity to this is nothing wrong in a designer and it is nothing to do with, and quite in opposition to, the artificial engineering of obsolescence.
The clue as to where we need to direct the majority of our attention in the next few years lies in the Fielden Report, to which reference has been made. An integration of design and training of engineers, economists and many other people is absolutely crucial, and we must see design not as something remote from other kinds of academic training but as something as much a part of it as logic. We in England have a culture which has historically been oriented to the verbal. Nearly all our examinations and papers for entry into university are concerned with verbal, rather than visual, skills. There is not much doubt that this is one of the things which have contributed to the separation of the artists, on the one hand, and the businessmen, engineers and others, on the other. We have to break down right throughout educational system, in the schools and the universities, this dichotomy between visual and verbal skills. We have to alter our examination structure so that visual skills are rated more or less in the same bracket with our verbal skills.
The schools of architecture in the last few years in this country have been facing this problem—they have it on their plate. They are partly technical, partly practical, and at the same time visual. In several of the leading schools of architecture to-day research is going on into the wedding of these two strands in our culture. In the School of Architecture at London University there is a Leverhulme research project into creativity. This project is concerned with trying to find the means to identify among schoolchildren those who have these visual gifts and to analyse and 1207 criticise the arrangements in the university so as to foster these gifts rather than suppress them.
In this connection we have come across an interesting piece of research which is being carried out in America. In the United States they pay great attention to the intelligence quotient, or I.Q., as a means of judging a student's intelligence before he comes in. Students are all rated by their I.Q.s, then their performance in examinations is watched, and it has been reported by the people whose books we read that those students who unfortunately did much better in the examinations than their I.Q. suggested they should were put in a category called "over-achievers" and were often sent to see the college psychiatrist.
These researchers endeavoured to identify groups of students who had distinct powers of innovation or for doing the unexpected, and they set a series of tests for them such as giving them a blank sheet of paper and saying to them, "Draw a picture of children playing in the school playground". A large bunch of these students with the highest I.Q. did a good, straight picture of the playground, with decent perspective, showing several children playing in it. Another group of children did rather funny things. One returned a blank sheet with the title at the bottom: "Children playing in the school playground in a thick fog". Others did similar off-beat responses to this question. This group were found to have I.Q.s not much, but a little, below the average, and to constitute the "over-achievers" about whom the Americans were so worried. Of course, these are our future designers. One of the things we shall undoubtedly have to do in education is find the means of spotting these children. We do not yet know how to do it—it is foolish to pretend that we do—but it is worth trying to find such a means and then to make sure that in the educational process to which they are subjected gifts of this sort, instead of being choked back and suppressed, as they often are now, are positively encouraged and brought forward.
What are the main positive steps that we need to take at the present time in 1208 these matters? First of all, we need to establish more very high-class postgraduate schools and institutes for design into which we take people who already have a foundation in some other discipline. I do not believe that we are going to solve the problem of training designers simply by taking a boy from school and saying to him, "You are going to be a designer, my lad", and putting him immediately into a professional design course. I am a great believer that we shall not establish the teaching, the advancement of knowledge and the other things we need in this field, without considerably more work at high level, at a postgraduate level in institutions which are either universities or places of comparable standing among the technological institutions. I also believe that we need to establish industrial designers as a professional body. The time is now ripe for the development of such a body, probably through the Society for Industrial Artists and Designers. This could be a tremendous step forward.
In doing so, we have to think for a moment what a profession really is. A profession is a kind of unwritten contract between society and the body concerned. Society confers on doctors, architects, lawyers and others certain valuable privileges. It removes from them the need to compete with one another, and protects them in a variety of ways. But in return for this, the profession undertakes important obligations to society, and if it does not fulfil these obligations it will soon get thrown out. These obligations are that it sets a standard of professional service, that no member of the profession is permitted to give a service below a certain high standard, and that if he does give such a service he is effectively disciplined. That is the first important responsibility taken on by a profession. This, I believe, designers could and should now do. This means a court of discipline within the profession, because by removing yourselves from the market you are removing from the consumer the power to shop around between good and bad practitioners, and you take on your own shoulders the duty of maintaining a basic standard of service.
The second thing that a profession does —and this is a very important, though less overt, part of the unwritten contract with society—is that it makes itself 1209 responsible for the advancement of knowledge in its field, which is extremely important. It means that the profession takes on its shoulders not the financing of research, but the major responsibility for higher education and the promotion of knowledge that is needed to maintain and continuously improve the standard of the service it gives to the community. This is a great challenge to our designers, but it is one which I believe they could now take up. I hope that they can and that we shall make it possible for them to do so.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ECCLES
My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Llewelyn-Davies, because he approached this subject with education in mind, and he took a view about it with which I find myself in very great sympathy. He also reminded your Lordships that taste, which is an important factor in the demand for design, goes up and down. One learns in business that industry has to produce what the market wants, and the market is very much alive and very sensitive to changes in taste.
The noble Lord did well to mention the eighteenth century which is generally regarded as a high-water mark. The excellence of the industrial arts then associated with building, decorating and furnishing gentlemen's houses is acknowledged by all of us. But if one asks who in Queen Anne's day set the fashion, surely the answer is that the lead came from the top. The architects, the interior decorators, the coach builders whom the noble Lord rightly mentioned, received personally their commissions from the Members of your Lordships' House. It was the excellent judgment of a handful of people which in those days established the standard. The eighteenth century had to come to an end, and a hundred years of so afterwards the enterprising manufacturers in the new towns were turning out goods to be sold ready-made. The workmanship and the materials satisfied the market. They were useful, they were comparatively cheap and, as far as one knows, it did not matter very much how well they looked. But then that age, also, had to come to an end, and I believe it is really remarkable how, since the last war, the pendulum of taste has been swinging again in the right direction.
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, for putting down this Motion, 1210 and for the admirable way in which he introduced it to the House. I think he may agree that the reason why if there is not much interest in industry about design, and there is a great deal among the general public, is because the schools, the colleges and the departments of art, the advertising profession—which on the whole does its best to popularise good design—the women's magazines, broadcasting, the Arts Council, the Council of Industrial Design, the Building Centre and many other organisations and services have already accomplished a great deal in educating the public to recognise and demand better designs.
My Lords, this is a many-sided educational advance, and it is in nature altogether different and in scale altogether greater than anything we knew before the war. It is the same with all educational advances of this character: the results take a good long time to come through, but one can already see that the better teaching and communicating of the arts is having a profound effect on all levels of British life. I sometimes think that the growing enthusiasm for the fine arts would not be altogether a good thing if they became isolated and if they were treated as something sufficient unto themselves. This is a point which I believe needs to be made in a debate on industrial design.
I am never very happy when I hear someone say that because a product works well there is no reason why it should not also look well. Such statements create the impression that the two aspects of quality—performance and appearance—are more or less independent of each other, and that if in one product both are excellent that is something contrived from outside the normal workings of the market; a touch of art has been added where it did not naturally belong. I expect that in the nineteenth century it was very difficult to see any close connection between performance and appearance, but that is not true to-day. Since the last war we have made a remarkable social discovery: we have discovered that people who know why a thing works well also want it to look well. Of course, the number of those who know why a product works well has been multiplied many times—those who know what goes on under 1211 the bonnet of the car, or why one piece of kitchen equipment is more efficient than another. Therefore, though it may seem a paradox, it is a fact that scientific and technical education is revealing itself as the most powerful of all stimulants to better industrial design.
I was interested in what the noble Lord said about the motor-car industry. But is it a wider knowledge of æsthetics that is pushing engineers to design better motor cars or better television sets? I think it is much more likely to be the other way round. It is the far wider knowledge of engineering which is prompting manufacturers to take more account of the convenience and the appearance of their products, and of how costs might be reduced by better design.
The desire for information about the performance of articles on sale is a very widely remarked feature of post-war Britain. The noble Baronesses, Lady Elliot of Harwood and Lady Burton of Coventry, know much more about the consumer research organisations than I do. But I think they would agree that the response to these organisations has exceeded even their own expectations.
Where does this intelligent, growing curiosity come from? Where did it start? It must have started in the post-war schools. The better and the more extensive teaching of mathematics, science and practical subjects of all kinds puts the child in the way to ask the right sort of questions about the quality of goods and to understand the expert answers when they are given. And all the time the child is also learning more about the arts as part of the postwar curriculum. This process, which is only beginning since at all levels, in the schools and afterwards, these two kinds of education are rapidly improving, must stimulate a growing demand for better design, not as something separate from the performance of the article but as part and parcel of the performance itself. This is a very important change in the public attitude towards design—or, if you prefer it, in public taste—and it is a point which is often stressed by the Duke of Edinburgh in the speeches in which His Royal 1212 Highness very forcefully calls for greater support for industrial design.
I can now turn to an unusual and challenging feature of to-day's market for consumer and semi-durable goods. If it is true that the rise in the level of public taste is almost wholly due to post-war advances in scientific, technical and art education, then we should expect the demand for good design to come from the younger rather than from the older and more experienced members of society. And this is exactly what has happened. The most insistent customers, the most successful setters of fashion and the best designers are to-day to be found among the young. My generation has not grasped (and perhaps we do not want to) how much the young are forcing their elders to change their ways of looking at things and to change the style and appearance of their surroundings.
A year or two back I was in a secondary school looking at their modern appliances for the teaching of domestic science, and a woman, with her umbrella at a very menacing angle, stopped me. She said, "I'll trouble you not to put ideas into my daughter's head." I was recoiling from this attack when she went on: "You are the man who is responsible for telling Mary that my kitchen stove is no (something) good at all; that I must throw it out and buy another one —and on hire-purchase." My Lords, this woman, when she was at school, had no chance to learn about cookers, curtains or table decorations. But her daughter has; and children like her daughter are changing as rapidly as they can the furnishings and the equipment which satisfied their parents. These young people are doing for hundreds of thousands of small houses and flats exactly what your Lordships' ancestors did for their town and country mansions in the eighteenth century.
There are many other signs, all springing from greater affluence and better education, of the leading part which the young are playing in the revolution in taste. Take the museums, exhibitions or other places where fine things can be seen. They all attract far larger attendances than they did—but who make up the swelling crowds of visitors? They are not a cross-section of the population: everywhere the young predominate. 1213 Thousands of them are brought in parties by their schools; many others come over and over again on their own. Your Lordships may remember that before the war the British Museum itself was almost always empty, but now the tides of teenagers flow in and out daily; and the same is no doubt true of such diverse places as public libraries, Coventry Cathedral or the Design Centre, in the Haymarket.
Such evidence helps to explain what everyone in commerce knows (and here, perhaps, I ought to declare my interest to your Lordships, in that I am a director of a textile firm): that the pressure for the new and better designs is being put on by the very young people. To me, this is inevitable and healthy, and I only wish that more firms found it easier to respond to this pressure and to change their established lines of production. When someone does discover what the young are looking for, and produces those articles, their success is immediate. One can think, for instance, of "jeans" —those skimpy trousers which saved the cheap end of the textile trade; and your Lordships will think of many other such examples. Surprising, sometimes shocking, demands are being made by young people at home and by young nations overseas who, all in their different ways, want the world to look new. Old designs can be just as suspect as colonialism. How then, one must ask, is industry to deal with this upheaval, this rare upheaval, in the youthful end of the market? First and foremost, as has already been said in this debate, those in charge of production should upgrade the industrial designer and look round for young designers who can interpret their generation, give them their chance and risk making a few mistakes.
My Lords, there is one direction in which industry and commerce have only themselves to blame if they have failed to capture these new markets. Too often they pay their salesmen on commission, without reckoning how seriously this system slows up the introduction of new designs. A traveller who gets only a small salary and has to rely on the volume of his sales for his income is afraid to push new lines. He finds it safer to go on selling what he has sold before, and then he tells his directors that what he has sold before is what their customers want—and those 1214 in charge of production are not altogether displeased to hear that. The manager of a shop produces the same bad result, if he is paid by commission, by reserving all the best places in his shop for the articles which have sold well before. All the new lines are tucked away in the background.
I cannot say exactly how serious this payment on commission is in keeping down new designs, but I am quite sure that it is serious enough for industry and commerce to think hard whether in their own interests they should do something about it. They have to face the fact that if demand for gay and youthful consumer goods is not met by our own manufacturers, these goods will be imported. Tariffs are coming down—and a good thing, too!—and anyone can see that the consequences of the millions of trips taken every year by British subjects to the Continent of Europe must be very serious for the balance of payments. When these holiday-makers find across the Channel shapes, colours, designs and styles which take their fancy, they want, when they come home, to see equally striking goods in the shops where they live. If those articles are not being produced by our manufacturers they are going to be imported. That is a very good reason why British design cannot afford to stand still.
Now, my Lords, I will turn for a moment from commercial considerations to the place of better industrial design in our life as a society. I agree with the noble Lord who has just left the Chamber that the spread of good taste among the millions of the population would do more than anything else to heal the divisions which are called the two cultures and which are wrongly attributed to the antagonism between the arts and the sciences. To-day many people are disturbed because the population seems to be divided into technical and non-technical halves, and they pin their faith to the spread of the fine arts among the whole body of the nation. Undoubtedly this is doing a great deal of good, and with the encouragement of the Arts Council and others we know that the arts will continue to do even more good in the future. But why stop at the fine arts? I am sorry to say that Parliament itself still puts the fine arts in a class apart, on the ground that they are 1215 somehow different, less easy to sell and more worthy than industrial design of encouragement by the Government or the local authorities. But is this distinction valid? Is there really any meaning in saying that "pop" art, colleges and mobile constructions are fine art, but that a Mini Minor or the furnishings which can be seen at the Crafts Centre or in a shop like Heal's are not? Or again, what difference in kind can one draw between an abstract painting and a textile design?
Any of your Lordships who visited the Gulbenkian Exhibition now showing at the Tate Gallery must have asked yourselves: "Is all this fine art?" What was one to make of a sculpture called "The Bicycle Race", roughly assembled from odds and ends of wood? How could one say that the two machines in this sculpture were anything like as satisfying as the Moulton bicycle, which has just won a prize from the Council of Industrial Design? Or who, visiting that Gulbenkian Exhibition, would describe as fine art a shabby mohair goat standing on a platform of painted rubbish, his face daubed with pigment and a motor tyre slung around his tummy?
I came away from the exhibition determined to keep my thoughts to myself, and I would have done so if, a day or so later, I had not read an entry in the "Comments" book at the Design Centre in the Haymarket. Four pre-diploma students from the Leicester College of Art had written this about the objects in the Design Centre:We think that this is real art and is much more valid than anything in the Tate Exhibition.I do not go as far as that. Some of the sculpture and painting at the Tate struck me as splendid and worthy of any collection; but that does not diminish the importance of these students' remarks. Here were four young people, training to be artists, saying that industrial design is real art. Can we hope that their verdict, which is the contemporary verdict, will be accepted by the Government and the public? It would make a tremendous difference to Britain's industrial future if it were. The official distinction between the fine arts and industrial design is a relic of the past. It reminds me of the old class distinctions, the upper class, the middle class and the working class; and 1216 it is just about as out of date. But until these old distinctions are abandoned it will not be at all easy to give the industrial designer professional status, as the noble Lord rightly wanted, or to get industry to pay due respect to him or to arrange our educational system so that industrial design occupies its proper place.
My Lords, the noble Lord who preceded me spoke about the Royal College of Art and the other colleges where there are at present some small number of courses in industrial design; and he rightly said that these are undergraduate courses and cover only a very few students. But we must not stop at trying to improve the number of courses at that stage; it seems to me that we have to carry the teaching of industrial design backwards into the schools, where the arts and the technical subjects could be broadened to include an introduction to good and bad design: in engineering goods as well as in textiles, and in transport equipment as well as in kitchen equipment. I have sometimes wondered how I should set about instructing a class of boys in the enormous merits of Mr. Henry Moore's sculpture, and I think I should first get them talking about the difference in the appearance of, say, a Ferrari and a Jaguar. They are already interested in the performance of these cars, and therefore it ought not to be difficult to arouse their curiosity about the design of the coachwork; and from there one could go on to Mr. Henry Moore's shapes and surfaces. It would be an excellent thing if in the schools there could be arranged dialogues of that kind between the teacher of engineering or physics and the art teacher. I have seen it done once, with great effect, and it would be very good for the teacher and would rivet the attention of the pupils.
Much has been made of the Council of Industrial Design and I would add my warm tribute to the Chairman, Sir Duncan Oppenheim, and to Mr. Paul Reilly, the Director. I do not think their premises in the Haymarket are now large enough, and although I look forward to the extension which is going to be possible there I believe that when Piccadilly Circus is redeveloped an opportunity should arise to provide them with a building that will be worthy of 1217 their work. I wonder whether my noble friend who is to reply could give us some encouragement that the Government will do what they can to get the Council of Industrial Design a building designed for themselves when the Piccadilly redevelopment comes about. Meantime, will the Government support the proposal that, either next year or the year after, there should be a really fine exhibition of British design, perhaps held at the Victoria and Albert Museum? This would be of great encouragement to our designers and very good for our export trade.
My Lords, I apologise for keeping the House so long. I have tried to put just two points to your Lordships which, although not strictly commercial, supplement the commercial arguments for good design. The first was that it is an unusual fact that the demand for better design is coming to-day overwhelmingly from the young. In 25 years' time the young will be middle-aged, and then, if we have given the arts their proper place, we may again have a strong and recognisable standard of taste in this country. And the second point is that industrial design can be a much more potent and pervading instrument for reconciliation of the arts and the sciences than has yet been realised. But this means that the old class-like distinctions between the fine arts, the crafts and industrial design must go, and the Government should give us a lead. If these two points were fully accepted, then taste and artistic vigour would spread more rapidly than we have ever known in the past. This debate will have achieved its purpose if it does something to persuade industry and commerce to give the designer his chance and his due. That is something which I believe every one of your Lordships would support. I should like once again to thank the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, for giving me the opportunity of intervening.
§ 4.31 p.m.
My Lords, I wish to deal with the subject of industrial design from the point of view of overseas exhibitions and Britain's image abroad. These exhibitions and Britain's participation in them have as an aim the promotion and sale of British goods overseas. Much excellent work is being done by the Board of Trade, especially by the Export Publicity and Fairs branch, and 1218 by the Central Office of Information, which works to the brief of the Board of Trade. They supply the display material, the staff to mount it and a good deal of the material for display in commercial stores. Frequently, they have the participation of the Council of Industrial Design. For example, this summer there will be a Council exhibit in Milan.
There is, however, a distinction between trade fairs and British Weeks and stores promotions. The organisation of the trade fair is complicated. I spent three years of my life as European director of an exhibition in Jerusalem called "The Conquest of the Desert", which took me to fourteen West European countries to secure their participation. In the United Kingdom it is the Board of Trade which is concerned with participation, and it has a budget this year of nearly £900,000. With this, British participation is secured in 42 trade fairs. Exhibits which are under the auspices of the Board of Trade have to show some commercial return. The Board of Trade is becoming more and more liberal in its definition. So far as purely prestige fairs overseas are concerned, these are a matter for the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office, but these Departments have no control over who is to participate from this country and what exhibits are to be shown. Sometimes a second-rate manufacturer participates and shows fourth-rate products. He may sell them, but the question is: does this represent Britain? I venture to suggest that there is need for greater control, in the interests of preserving the national image abroad.
So far as British Weeks and stores promotions are concerned, there are 20 this year abroad, ranging from exhibits in single stores and in groups of competing stores to exhibits in whole cities. The aim of the stores is to sell more British goods and more goods in general. During these British Weeks, what is it that packs the customers in? In a word, it is Beefeaters. All the traditional images of Britain are employed for publicity overseas—the Lion and the Unicorn, Big Ben, Life Guardsmen, Pipers, Beefeaters and replicas of the Crown Jewels. It is an interesting fact that the Board of 1219 Trade are not permitted to supply replicas of the Crown Jewels: it is left to private enterprise, and there are manufacturers abroad who are making a fortune by making replicas of the Crown Jewels for display in British Weeks overseas. I think that this should be looked into.
What is the significance of this thirst for antiquity? My noble friend Lord Peddie has referred to this interest in the Old Curiosity Shop. Do American visitors to Britain ask first to see an atomic power station? They do not. They want to see the Tower of London and the changing of the Guard. I am all in favour of a spot of colour in a drab climate, and Britain is at a disadvantage in that we cannot use the climate as a drawing card for foreign visitors. I would suggest, however, that with the increased number of visitors from Asia and Africa, those who live in arid zones and suffer from a lack of rain, Britain might even advertise its climate—"You want rain—we have it".
Meanwhile, we have to fall back on the Beefeaters. I have nothing personally against the Beefeaters; I am sure that they are very nice men. But the "cut-outs" sent by the Central Office of Information to Dusseldorf were not at all nice. They were very prosaic. I venture to suggest that Beefeaters can be fun. One needs modern designs, but they can be based on traditional themes, not only Beefeaters. Modern advertising can be witty. We had in the Festival of Britain a great deal of gaiety, lightness and laughter, and I do not see why this should not be employed by designers of British exhibits abroad. The best designs at Dusseldorf were a unicorn and a bobby's helmet—and both those were designed by German designers.
But, however wittily Beefeaters and unicorns are made, there is a danger of encouraging this traditional image. People may say, "Britain is mediaeval. If we want contemporary design, we must go to Scandinavia". It is an interesting fact that at the Design Centre American buyers come in and are agreeably surprised to see new materials, good design and workmanship and competitive prices—and they go on and buy 1220 in Scandinavia. It is not easy to combine the traditional and the contemporary. If you let go of the traditional, you may fail to be contemporary. You may, in fact, end up with a uniform international style. If we take architecture as an example, what is contemporary British architecture? This last week-end I went to see St. Catherine's College at Oxford—which was designed by a Danish architect.
In industrial design, there are some wonderful combinations of the traditional and the contemporary. In pottery, I would cite Wedgwood. Traditional quality, and a knowledge of the export markets and sales, combine with the use both of traditional design and of contemporary design. But all potters are not of that calibre; one firm which was invited to exhibit at a British exhibition overseas refused to show anything except pottery designed between 1730 and 1800. That, I venture to suggest, is over-cautious. The result is that there are many younger British designers who have great difficulty in making a living. They have had excellent training and they are highly skilled, but they cannot get their designs accepted.
The Design Centre is doing a grand job. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, said that the Design Centre is a model. It is true that many countries are coming to Britain to look at the Design Centre with a view to establishing design centres of this kind abroad. At the moment, there are delegates from Japan, South Africa and Israel. The total influence of the Design Centre is enormous. Since it was opened, 6 million visitors have passed through its doors, and, as the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, said, it is largely the young people who go there—the "newly weds" who are about to set up house, want to see what lines of furniture are offered, and then they ask for them in the shops. But the choice afterwards is often very limited.
It is true that the Design Centre has a record of qualified designers—there are now some 1,700 on their list—and manufacturers ask the Design Centre for names. Some 600 enquiries a year are received, and short lists of names suggested for each job are sent out. The manufacturers who send in designs for the index send them in at the rate of some 200 a week. There are now 10,000 items on 1221 the index, of which 1,000 are permanently on display. There are, as has been said, two committees, which meet weekly, one for the crafts and the other for light engineering, to approve the designs. The redesign of the exhibits that are not up to standard is suggested by the Council of Industrial Design industrial officer for that particular industry.
Even so, designers have difficulties, and the contemporary field has mainly been left to Scandinavia. The word "modern" to-day is largely taken by buyers and consumers lo mean Scandinavian. The G-plan furniture is by a Danish designer. Where are the British designers? They are just as good. What is Scandinavia's secret. Take Finnish glass, Danish silver or Swedish furniture. I would submit that the secret of these countries, as my noble friend, Lord Peddie, and the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, have said, is the high status of the designer compared to his low status in this country. In Scandinavia the designers are named; they are known and advertised. Here this is very rare. Apart from Gerald Benny, whose name is associated with Viners' cutlery, and the Marquess of Queensberry range of glass and pottery, very few designers are known to the public.
Look at the change when you come to Finland. If you go, as I have been, to the great Arabia glass and pottery works in Helsinki, which is tile largest in Europe, you will see on the top floor half a dozen studios for glass and pottery designers. The leading designers are invited to inhabit these studios. They have their own kilns and free material and labour, and they produce what they like. If the firm likes what they produce it buys the design; it goes into mass production, the designer gets a royalty, and his name appears on every copy. It is considered to be a great honour in Finland to be a designer employed by or working in the Arabia Works.
Something is now being done in this country. There are the design awards; there is the Award of Distinction to designers; and there is the designation "The Royal Designer for Industry". The Society of Industrial Designers, mentioned by my noble friend Lord Llewelyn-Davies, is trying to improve the status of the designer. The Society has 1,700 members, and it has an 1222 entrance examination which raises the level of the membership. It encourages good design through design medallists and through the annual oration. It is now embarking on design research, which my noble friend advocated, or forward planning and the use of research fellowships. It now has a scheme in hand for its own building at a cost of £500,000, with a research library and exhibition halls. I hope that enlightened manufacturers will support this generously. The Society is corn-miffed to drive home the idea that design is not a question of looks or of chromium plating but of convenience, lightness, economy, lower costs and a greater competitive capacity.
People overseas want British goods if they are unique, but Britain has little unique to offer to-day, other than bone china and upholstered furniture. For the rest, we seem to content ourselves with reproductions of Chippendale. It sells well, but is it really suitable for contemporary flats, either in Britain or abroad? We cannot live in the past. The future of British industrial exports lies largely in the hands of designers. They need, I would suggest, not only training, but factory experience and marketing experience. Not only must goods be well designed; they must be made and sold. I suggest that close co-operation between this triumvirate of engineers, designers and salesmen should be fostered by every possible means. When we have such a triumvirate, British exports will be triumphant.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ LORD MANCROFT
My Lords, I, too, should like to add a few words of support to the Motion that has been put before your Lordships to-day by the noble Lord, Lord Peddie. My qualification, such as it is, for doing so is that I have recently completed a stint of three years as a member of the Council of Industrial Design, a stint which I thoroughly enjoyed and found a fascinating three years' work. I am not certain what the protocol is in your Lordships' House for somebody who has just fulfilled such a task. Perhaps I should play safe and say that anything your Lordships see fit to criticise occurred before or after I joined the Council, and anything of which your Lordships approve occurred while I was a member. 1223 The noble Lord, Lord Peddie, has drawn attention to the Report, and I should like to do that very thing—namely, draw physical attention to the Report itself. I think it is an admirable manner of presenting such a document to Parliament and the country. To start off with, the Report is written in English, which is unusual in cases like this, and for which obviously Mr. Paul Reilly and his staff must be given the credit. I think it is a good example, rightly so coming from the Council of Industrial Design, of how such a Report should be se: out and presented in format, clarity, compactness, printing and design; and it is also produced in accordance with the Design Council's policy of adopting international standard paper sizes. The only thing I can find to complain about is that the price is in shillings. I should have liked to see the price in cents. It is high time that we made up our minds to accelerate the adoption of the decimal currency, not only from a common sense point of view, but also from the view of international trade. It will also give the Council of Industrial Design some chance of getting their hands on our currency and coinage, redesign of which is badly needed. What do we derive, though, from the actual substance of the Report? I would say that the taxpayer, who, after all, contributes nearly £250,000 to the Council, can say that his money has this year not been badly spent. I should say that the most important point that comes from the Report is the greater and growing appreciation of the need for good design—not necessarily a greater appreciation of good design in itself, which is not quite the same thing, but a greater appreciation of the need for good design. The Council of Industrial Design are the spearhead, as I see it, of our new but growing reputation for imaginative, modern design.
Now a few hard things have been said about our standards of design, and harder things will doubtless be said still. I think it is a pity, and I welcomed the remarks of the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who has just spoken before me, emphasising that what is really needed is encouragement to the good designer, a greater sense of publicity, and a greater social status for the good designer. We all remember Koko in The Mikado and his list which included 1224The lunatic who praises in enthusiastic tone Every century but this and all centuries but his own.It becomes fashionable to abuse a piece of bad design. Well and good. But let us remember to praise the increasing amount of good design. Let us therefore single out the increasing numbers of good designers who are coming more to the forefront of our commercial and industrial life. If we are not yet leaders in design, we are at least pioneers in the encouragement and the propaganda of good design. I was glad, therefore, to hear many speakers in this debate praise the work of the Council in fostering exhibitions abroad—there have been many more than I think are realised—and not only in doing that, but in giving advice to other countries. Many countries have copied our own Design Centre, many more have asked for our advice, and the Council are in a position to put on exhibitions all over the world at quite short notice. I believe there are five this year alone.
I do not think it is wise, though, to judge the Council's work solely by the Design Centre and its exhibitions. The scope of the Council's work is much wider than that. The Design Centre is really only that part of the iceberg that shows. if I understood my three years' work aright, the Council's main function is so to change the climate of opinion that, whenever a design problem arises, management will automatically reach for a qualified designer.
What, therefore, are the next steps, as we see them, to be taken on the Report which is before us this afternoon? What, for instance, are the next steps to be taken by the Council themselves? I think that the physical increase of space for the Council is obviously excellent, but I would back the plea of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, for, in due course, much larger premises. But assuming they have to work within the existing premises, then I think the Council are on the right lines in branching off into new fields of packaging, presentation, clothing and engineering. In this counrty we have made a lot of progress in packaging—more than most people realise—but in presentation, not quite so much.
One form of presentation to which I hope the Council will draw particular 1225 attention is shop window dressing, in which in some respects we lag behind our competitors abroad. Of course, the real trouble is that the Council's problem is not what to tackle next, but what to omit, because the field is so wide. But I particularly welcome the intention to give more attention to capital goods and machinery. The noble Lord, Lord Llewelyn-Davies, mentioned the attractive operation of "over-achieving". I think that, in the realm of heavy industry and capital goods, we are going to run into a certain number of under-achievers. We are going to find a lot of manufacturers and engineers who do not believe that there can be any link between design and heavy engineering. People are going to turn round and say, "Well it is a nice idea, but when you get down to it, what is the function of design in a nuclear power station or a marine turbine?" Of course, they are wrong, but we are going to have this opposition and prejudice. There are still some people, I am afraid, in the industrial North who frankly think that design is "sissy". The idea that in the North they make things and that everything south of Leicester is overheads dies hard.
Several noble Lords have mentioned the subject of cars. This is a field, I think, where improved industrial design is much needed. Sweeping generalisations are not going to help, but the number of criticisms both in the consumers publications and in the trade and technical journals concerning the detailed design of many of our cars are too numerous and too pointed to be ignored. I will not go so far as to agree with one of the trade papers, which only three weeks ago pointed out that one of our smaller and, for some reason, popular cars is clearly designed to be driven by an all-in wrestler of 4 ft. 7 in. with three arms. But that there is room for improvement in the ordinary day-to-day field of design in the motor industry, I think will be admitted.
The Council, of course, have to some degree turned their attention to heavy industry and heavy industrial design in the past, and there is serving upon the Council Mr. W. L. Mather of the firm of Mather & Platt, and he had a very interesting article on this subject in the supplement to the Financial Times, to which the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, re- 1226 ferred. In it he made this remark. He talks about the appearance of heavy equipment, and says:Appearance and ergonomics should be built into the machine, and not added as expensive afterthoughts.I trust your Lordships know what ergonomics are? I do now. An ergonomist is one who studies the physical and psychological requirements of the user in relation to the product. It is a word we are clearly going to hear a lot in the jargon of the design boys in the years to come. When you go into the Red Lion and ask for your "usual", and the barmaid pushes across your double Scotch or pint of bitter, she is an ergonomist. I doubt whether she knows it, and she would probably give you a very old-fashioned look if you told her. But that is what she is.
To conclude on the subject of heavy equipment, I would make one practical suggestion to my noble friend who speaks for the Government. Sir Duncan Oppenheim, who has been a wholly admirable Chairman of the Council, must in the foreseeable future hand over the reins of office. I wonder whether it would be possible for the Government to consider appointing in his place a heavy industrialist or an engineer or somebody connected with capital goods in a prominent way. I believe if that were to be done it would give a valuable lead to this important branch of the Council's work.
So much for what the Council can do. What can trade and industry do? Much reference has been made to the Council's record of designers—a unique record. This is not just an employment agency for out-of-work designers; it is a really practical means of helping industry. It is a service of recommendation and introduction between designers and industry. I believe it handles between 700 and 800 requests a year. I speak from personal experience as a customer. I have used the record on two or three occasions with profit and value. I wish that industry would make more use of it, and I wish that those who have used it would pass around the word of the value that can be derived from this service. That is one thing I believe trade and industry could do: make greater use of the Council's record of designers.
There have been several admirable examples in industry over the years of 1227 firms and organisations that have been in the forefront of good design. If we are throwing abuse about—as we have been rightly doing—I think praise should be given where it is due. I would single out four organisations who set an admirable example in this respect—London Transport, the General Post Office, the Orient Line and Harvey's of Bristol. Although I have emphasised the need for bringing the capital goods, particularly engineering, into the forefront of this campaign—primarily because they feature so largely in our exports—we must not, of course, ignore the home market.
The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, referred to the shopkeeper, who has a very important part to play because it is he who is really, as much as anybody, capable of moulding, changing or encouraging taste as it immediately affects the public. The noble Viscount also talked about the variation in taste, and he made, I think, an important point when he talked about the possible damage done by the commission system.
I remember one meeting of the Council of Industrial Design when a particularly popular carpet which has been on the floors of second-class boarding houses at seaside resorts for fifty years (and looks like it) was being discussed, and the Council was indignant about it. It was time it vanished from the whole of our commercial world. We abused it, up hill and down dale. I happened to mention this to one of our leading carpet manufacturers from Kidderminster a few days later. He said: "I am perfectly prepared to bow to the superior taste and experience of you and your colleagues "—those are not his exact words, but that is what he meant. "But ", he said, "this design has been far and away our best selling line. It is the line on which most of our customers make their profit. If we discontinue it the man in the street will merely take his custom to our rivals. Do you wish us to starve?—because that will be the result of your policy."
It is not easy to argue with that and to tell the manufacturer how he should put that right. And there is another side to the coin. At a subsequent meeting of the Council of Industrial Design a new carpet was before us which met with our universal praise, my own included. 1228 It was a beautiful piece of work and it fulfilled every requirement. It received two, if not three, prizes and two international awards. It was highly commended in both the trade and the general Press of this country and it received wide commendation abroad. There was only one thing wrong with it; nobody would buy it. There is, as I say, another side to the coin; and I do not think we have yet solved that problem. It does, however, emphasise the importance that the public can play in this campaign.
The C.O.I.D. have their part to play. Trade and industry have their parts to play. So have the public in refusing to buy shoddy goods; in complaining bitterly when goods are not fit for the purpose for which they are bought. The fact is that the public are undoubtedly becoming more and more interested. The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, is perfectly right. I think the interest shown in modern architecture; in things like street furniture and in street signs and traffic signs, shows how much more aware the public are becoming of the need for good design and good taste.
Lastly, what can Her Majesty's Government do?—because, as the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, rightly pointed out, the lead must come from the top. What further lead can Her Majesty's Government give? I say "further lead" advisedly, because I think the Government have done a very great deal in this respect and have given a good lead and powerful support to the Council for Industrial Design. The Council would, therefore, I think, welcome continued support, continued publicity and continued propaganda. A plea for more money is a little too easy to make, and I do not make it, for that reason, although I know that the Council would welcome more to enable them to continue their work, both in education and in propaganda, particularly in the schools, as your Lordships have rightly pointed out, and in a field where television could undoubtedly be a powerful ally.
My Lords, may I suggest to noble Lords opposite that a good field for propaganda would be in the trade union movement? After all, about nine-tenths of the items on display in the Design Centre are made by union labour with union hands. They are made by men and women who should be anxious that 1229 the work of their craft and their hands reflects not only their earning capacity but their own taste and appreciation of the goods which bear their stamp. I am not criticising in any way, but I would suggest that there is a fertile field for more propaganda; for getting the trade unions who are responsible, and the craft industries, the heavy engineering unions about which we have been talking so much this afternoon, much more interested in design. The Government have set a good example themselves in many respects. I mention particularly the General Post Office. I think, by general consent, the ordinary, humble pillar box is one of the most successful pieces of industrial design we can see to-day. The only better design is its Victorian six-sided predecessor.
The Government are not always quite as good as the General Post Office. In hospitals, particularly, there is a great deal of room for improvement; and if you want to know exactly how well-designed a hospital should look, have a look at the Princess Margaret Hospital at Swindon. I will not name the hospitals one should not look at, but the number of hospitals where a casualty from a road accident is brought in on a stretcher straight through the waiting room of the out-patients is too high. One can give numerous examples where the Government could improve their activities. Hospitals, yes; Embassies abroad; Government offices themselves, some of which are shameful examples of any form of taste or design, and London Airport, which started off with such commendably high hopes in the field of design and which has now become an indescribable design shambles. The Regional Electricity Boards, with their siting of power stations and design of substations and nylons, leave a lot to be desired. I hope Her Majesty's Government will make it a rule that they will never launch any project of this sort where there is a design element without setting the example of applying to the Council of Industrial Design far guidance and help and making certain that they are complying with the highest possible standards.
The Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, is an ordinary Motion for Papers. His colleague the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, a newcomer to your Lordships' House, the other day questioned what would happen if a 1230 Motion for Papers were moved and not withdrawn. I do not want to incur the wrath of my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, who has never shown me anything but kindness, but I wonder whether it would not be a good idea if the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, were to press his Motion on the Order Paper to-day. The Papers which the Government could give would be a list of projects which are now on their "Order Paper" and which involve some element of design. This would prove conclusively that they had lived up to their own good intentions and consulted the Council, and in each case taken the necessary advice. It is not my business, and I put this forward with some temerity. I am perfectly aware that by so doing none of my old friends at the Board of Trade will ever talk to me again—and I have had enough of boycotts recently.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ BARONESS BURTON OF COVENTRY
My Lords, I should like first of all to apologise to your Lordships for not having been here at the beginning of the debate and to express my disappointment that I was unable to hear my noble friend Lord Peddie. As he knew, I have been in the chair all day at a meeting of the Domestic Coal Consumers' Council. The second introductory point I must make is on the same lines as one made by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft—except that mine is in the present tense. I am a member of the Council of Industrial Design, and I should obviously declare my interest.
The Introduction to the Annual Report we are discussing, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, has much in it that we can take to heart. There is great interest among all laymen to-day in architecture and design. I find, as I go around, that most people have views, and very strong views, about the new modern blocks of offices or buildings that are going up. And we also find, of course, that Members of Parliament have very strong views upon the projected extensions of our Parliamentary precincts. But, looking at the Introduction to this Report to-day, I do not know that I personally accept the comment thatThe post-war building boom has done little to advance the cause of architecture.In other countries I think that it has done a good deal, and I must say, with 1231 deference to the noble Lord, Lord Bossom, and others more qualified in this matter than I am, that there are many modern buildings in this country that I myself like. But what I believe is important is that people do hold vehement opinions about these buildings and that, in general, they are considering very much more than in the past what is going up in front of them. This was brought home to me very forcibly during the building of the new Coventry Cathedral, and it really became—I do not know if one can say a political issue, but at any rate a very burning issue at all public meetings in Coventry, whether one did or did not like the particularly modern changes brought about in that building.
I should like to bring to the attention of the House—and I apologise if it has been done already—part of the second need mentioned in the first page of this Introduction, the needto persuade people to make and buy not down to a price but up to a standard, not down to a convention but up to a tradition of experiment and development, so that quality in its widest sense, which includes design, should again become our yardstick.Not long ago I was talking to someone who said that he considered that Continental manufacturers were in general more aware of good design than we were here. He advanced the thought that one reason for this might be that architectural standards were higher in Europe than in this country; and he went on to say that he thought that design should always be considered as an integral part of social development.
The question I should like to put to the House (I do not know if the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, will feel able to answer it) is this: is it true that good design can never flourish in a mediocre environment? Because that was the question I was asked and I did not feel qualified to answer it. Whether or not we deserve such criticism is one matter. But I think undoubtedly there is to-day an increasing concern with actual designing to suit and appeal to the user. I am told that some 60 or 70 capital goods firms have recently used, or are using, industrial designers in order to achieve these aims. At first the figure of 60 or 70 did not greatly impress me, but I think that if we look at this figure within the context of the whole industry 1232 we shall find that it is similar to the number of engineering firms in the consumer goods fields who are also using designers at the present time.
I do not know whether the House is aware of it, but I have been told that industrial designers feel very strongly that they are less subjected to pressures from sales, marketing and advertising interests than are designers of consumer goods. They say that while in both consumer and capital goods fields the production people tend to have the last say, but I know that industrial designers feel that in consumer goods they are subject all the time to the influence of advertising and sales considerations. They say that to them there seems to be a larger margin here for personal expression, and more people think they have a right to express an opinion, whereas with capital goods the contact. is with the engineers rather than with the advertising and sales people.
To-day I should like to divide my brief remarks into two categories, the first being general and the second affecting the consumer. We all realise that generalisation is risky, but I believe that in the world of industry to-day, competitive as never before, efficiency and good design must go together. I believe that if you have efficiency and good design you will always have a better product than if you have only one of those qualifications present. From what background have I come to feel this? It is a background of very much less experience than that of many of your Lordships. But I have come to feel it from the background of the coal industry, as Chairman of the Domestic Coal Consumers' Council; from the motor car industry, as member of Parliament for Coventry, South—and I would endorse all that the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, said about the stories that come to us, shall we say, of improvements that could be made in our motor cars; and also in the field of consumer durables, where I now have experience, and of course, like the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, in our joint background affecting consumer problems over many years.
In spite of many criticisms I feel that design is now being given more careful consideration by many sections of the economy; indeed, the general attitude towards good design is most encourag- 1233 ing. As I have talked to people it has seemed to me that British industry to-day realises that its main problem is to find more and better designers. But I have also been told that the standard of design in the British engineering industry is falling behind that of our foreign rivals. And the reason for this, I have been told, is that in this country the design office has not remained such an important part of the organisation as is the case with organisations overseas. I do not think that my experience makes me competent to say whether or not that comment is true. But I feel that there must be some truth in it, simply because the engineering industry and the world of industry are looking for these designers to-day. And it seems to me they will get them only in one way; first of all by admitting our need is for more qualified designers; secondly, by being prepared to pay for them; and, thirdly, by being prepared to give them status. I shall come back later to the question of status, and I was glad to hear two previous speakers mention this.
I do not know how many of your Lordships noticed a letter in the Financial Times on July 31 last. It makes some points that I should like to repeat, because I think they are very relevant to-clay, and it may be that the Minister will have some comment to make on them when he comes to wind up. The letter said:If the designer today lacks status and recognition this was not so in Victorian times when names such as Napier, Whitworth and Parsons were household words. These men were, of course, not only engineers but also chairmen and directors of their own firms. To-day these positions are most often occupied by financiers and accountants.The next point has already been brought up by the noble Lord who has just sat down.To-day, apart from a few isolated examples, designers have become completely anonymous; this has contributed more than anything else to the general lack of distinction in engineering design.The letter went on to say something that obviously was pleasant to me:The appearance design people manage things a lot better, chiefly through the efforts of the Council of Industrial Design. It is about time the real creators of mechanical and electrical devices are given public recognition.The letter suggested that this could be done by a system of awards analogous 1234 to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award for elegant design. The writer continued:There would probably have to be several categories since it is not easy to compare, say, a hovercraft with a horizontal borer, but this is one way to bring the designer out of the back room in which he has languished for so long.I should like to ask the Minister whether he feels able to comment on this statement. Do the House, and the Government. consider that more adequate recognition of design and designers is overdue, or do they feel that we really can compete with the rest of the world in this respect?
Coming to the consumer, the Motion we are discussing to-day calls attention of the Annual Report of the Council of Industrial Design. For a great many years I have felt, and still feel, that the Council of Industrial Design stands for authoritative and responsible opinion on any aspect of design. All I stand for is the consumer, without technical knowledge —and that may apply to a great many of us speaking to-day. In this capacity a few months ago I spoke to a conference of designers on the place of the consumer in design. The first thing I want to say to the House is: is there such a place—apart from buying what is produced? And, if there is one, who am I to define it? This is not false modesty. But when considering points like this, my mind goes back to the war years and to the introduction of "Utility". Anybody will agree with me —I am quite sure that any woman will— that, in so far as clothes were concerned during the war years, if you could buy the best "Utility" you got far and away the best bargain in the shops. If you could not afford it, or you bought above it for reasons of snobbishness you did not get anything nearly so good. This, I think, meant a strong advance in public taste in those years, particularly in the clothes world, because some of the best designers first of all made for the mass market.
I was going along quite happily advancing this theory not many years ago, when suddenly somebody pulled me up short and asked, "Who are you to say what is good style for others?". And, who indeed? I have never forgotten that, and I think we must all realise that any of us, qualified or not, who get up in this House, or elsewhere, and venture to tell 1235 people what is good style and what is not lay ourselves open to the same sort of criticism. Well, speaking for the non-technical consumers, what place have we in the work of the designer? I am sure that Lady Elliot of Harwood and I will have some points to advance on this.
Before I took that conference, obviously I read what I could and sought opinions where I could; and on this question of the place of the consumer I came up against many queries. I am going to mention only three of them to-day—namely, is design for the professional? Does the consumer know what he wants? Surely a manufacturer must make what he believes to be right and not get the customer to make that decision for him? On that last point I myself have a query. It is this: Do manufacturers underestimate public taste? What account do manufacturers and designers take of consumer requirements? I should like to ask industry and designers, whether they feel that we consumers, whether we are large or small purchasers, whether private or public enterprise, are there to have just what is produced? Is that our function?
This, I think, raises a fundamental point. I believe it is one which is becoming more and more important every day, in this age when modern advertising is now so closely involved with market research. The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, was not a Member of our House when we discussed the Molony Report in November 1962, but I am sure that he will know as well as I do that, on page 287 at paragraph 873, this sentence appears:We regard consumer research in the sense of investigating the type and characteristics of goods needed by the consumer, as a consumer luxury and not an essential feature of a system of production (except in regard to safety aspects)".I, and I think a great many other people, reject this entirely, and I should like to advance, for the consideration of the House, that surely research into consumer needs is much more constructive than collecting complaints after the wrong products, or products with avoidable faults, have been manufactured. I think this tends to be ignored. Since saying that nearly two years ago, I was interested to read, and recommend to your Lordships, an article printed last 1236 November in Design, which is the magazine of the Council of Industrial Design, written by Elizabeth Gundrey, and called, I thought most aptly, "The Trade in After-thoughts". I want to quote only one-and-a-half sentences from it:A lot of supplementary enterprises thrive on the dropped stitches of incompetent designers. That they can exist and prosper merely through repairing the omissions of inadequate design indicates on what a large scale bad designs sell, and go on selling, even when generations of purchasers have recognised their badness".Why I said that I thought this question of research was becoming more important every day, is that it really seems to me that while a large part of our economic activity to-day is devoted to supplying known needs, a considerable and increasing, part of it goes to ensure that we consume what industry finds it convenient to produce. I think that we should not just be mere receptacles for what is turned out. I suggest, therefore, that basic research is also needed to supplement the limited objectives of existing consumer organisations, to research into the goods and services that are not on the market, into the consumer's image of the product, into the basis of his purchasing habits and decisions, into his real needs, and finally into choice itself. In fact, briefly, I think that market research involves, and must involve, an exploration of the requirements of the user. I wonder what the Minister feels about this. In other words, what use does he think should be made of market research by the mass producer and the designer.
Following on from that, we come to a most pertinent query, but one that I think is difficult to answer. What does the consumer mean by good design? To be quite obvious, I think we would all mean something we like. That is the matter in short. But, why do we choose something in a shop? Because we like it. We might like the look of it. We might like the style. We might think, "What a good idea it is". It may be fresh or it may be original. I think all this adds up to what we feel is good design. But when you come to actual pattern in such things as textiles or tiles or china, wallpapers, plastics, or carpets —this, I think, is personal, and you can only like a pattern yourself. Finally, if you say to a person, "What is it 1237 about that that you like?", I think he will often say, "I do not know; I just like it". What do we expect from it? I think that Lady Elliot of Harwood would agree with me: sometimes the impossible.
However, I think we expect to get reasonable value for money. We expect the things that we purchase to carry out the object of their being. I think we must realise that you cannot expect the same service from cheap goods as from expensive ones, as people sometimes do. I think we have to differentiate, too, between "cheap" and "inexpensive". I am sure that it would do a great disservice to the British public, or any public, if inexpensive goods were to disappear. We all know that for a holiday one buys a cheap pair of holiday shoes or a dress, and one is satisfied if these last for just that one holiday. That, I think, is something which is perfectly permissible.
I believe that one of the most important factors in the encouragement of original industrial design, or any design, is this vexed question of status. I should like to comment here—I do not know whether we are worse than other countries—that we are slow to learn on this particular point. What about the status of the designer? I think that the influence of the designer should be paramount on what the consumer actually gets. I think that for two reasons, because I think that a good designer must have two gifts: he must have the ability to analyse consumer problems, whether these are for the private consumer or the public one, and he must have the imagination to solve them. I agree with the expert who said, "Research and facts never created a thing; it is what you do with them that counts".
In view of that, have designers the status to influence manufacturers sufficiently so that what they say goes? I am doubtful whether they have. This is an important point, for I believe that we is consumers need education on design. We need it to appreciate something fresh or something original, whether in goods in a shop, in architecture, or whatever it may be. I am convinced that every noble Lord in this Chamber will agree that, whether it be listening to music, looking at Coventry Cathedral, or watch- 1238 ing ballet, the first time one sees or hears something different one's attitude is likely to be: "Quite honestly, I do not understand it—it is beyond me." But often, if one goes on seeing it, or listening to it, one gradually comes to appreciate it. It is necessary for all of us that this sort of help is given. We must refuse the mediocre, however acceptable it may seem. We should never have got Coventry Cathedral if we had accepted the mediocre. But we need to be educated to that standard. If our minds are to be kept fresh and receptive, we need the constant presentation of good design to enable us to discriminate and to appreciate originality. This is where the Council of Industrial Design have a vital part to play. It is also true to say that knowledgeable and persistent demand for good design in the home market is the best basis for an improvement in the quality of our exports.
On the question of status, I would remind your Lordships that this is nothing new—it keeps cropping up. In our debate on leisure, just prior to the Whit-sun Recess, my noble friend Lord Gardiner referred to a Report by the Select Committee on Estimates in another place which examined the Youth Service in 1957. I was Chairman of that Committee. We sat for twelve months, at the end of which we discovered some obvious factors that should have been known from the beginning. We discovered that the Youth Service was lacking in impact on the public because it had not status. It had not status in the minds of the Government, who did not give it enough money; the people who were working in it had not enough status to encourage recruits. Last year I spoke to the Purchasing Officers' Association, whose members in 1963 spent approximately £10,000 million in this country buying capital goods; and yet the members of that Association felt that they were entirely lacking in the status and prestige necessary to enable them to do their job. And so we go on. I feel that this is something we must take care of to-day.
To return to the Annual Report that we are discussing, we see on page 9 these words:No longer a novelty, the Design Centre has become an acknowledged reference point for everyone concerned with good modern design in the products of British industry.1239 I believe that the Centre deserves the support of individuals, of industry and of the Government of the day.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT CHANDOS
My Lords, I should like to say what an agreeable experience it is for me to hear the noble Lady who has just resumed her seat. It gives me a feeling of nostalgia and makes me regret perhaps the passing of the days when I used to hear her in another place.
I must begin by declaring my interest. I happen to be Chairman of the appeal for £500,000 which is being launched by the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers. This £500,000 is needed to build, equip and partially endow a centre for industrial designers: to be a focus, a headquarters, an academy, for designers of industrial products. It may be asked why a body of professional men are appealing to industry and the public to support such a centre. Are not industrial designers paid—and perhaps well paid? Should they not be able to look after themselves, to realise their own aspirations, to secure their own future by their own efforts? I do not feel that such an argument is well-founded. The truth is that just as the Royal Academy or the Royal College of Surgeons are a near necessity for the portait painter or the surgeon, so is the centre for industrial design. If left to the profession itself to finance, it might take half a century to bring it to birth. In short, in making my contribution to this debate, I not only seek your Lordships' interests; I am also after your Lordships' money, whether individually subscribed for this object (and I hope some noble Lords have taken out their cheque books), or subscribed corporately by your Lordships.
The broad justification for the appeal rests on a lot that has been said this afternoon, but in the main on two arguments, the first commercial, and the second æsthetic, or perhaps even social. I will not discuss the commercial aspects at great length; they should be fairly obvious. The ever-increasing range of products which modern science and modern industry puts at the disposal of the public all over the world demands an ever-increasing attention to their design, if they are to be acceptable. By that I mean what the noble Lady said—acceptable to a public which is be- 1240 coming more and more educated in these matters. You cannot, in 1964, wrap up fish in a sheet of the Daily Telegraph or the Daily Herald and expect to compete. And from that axiomatic proposition, it is clear that we shall fall behind if the design or packaging of any product falls below the standards of our competitors.
Taste is the cheapest and one of the most effective invisible exports. What, for instance, does the French Government owe to "chic", to name only one instance, achieved by its designers? In their way what have Dior, or Schiaparelli, or Balmain, or Chanel, to name only a few which occur to the mind of a man as ignorant on these subjects as I am, contributed? Perhaps they have contributed as much to the French economy as would the export of several thousand tons of phosphate rock or bauxite. To put the matter on its lowest level, we cannot compete with many products designed by the French, and an increasing number designed by the Italians, unless we mobilise our natural taste—which is inherently no less than theirs. Your Lordships know of the far-sighted and imaginative work which is done in many of our academies of art, and of the great and increasing number of brilliant young men who are graduating. But there is a gap, and I think the noble Lord, Lord Llewelyn-Davies, touched on this very point. I am sure he is right, and that here is a field in which a great effort must be made to bring these graduates into much closer relationship with the producers and thus improve the whole standard of taste.
I thought that my noble friend Lord Mancroft, after hitting a number of bull's-eyes, then devoted himself to hitting a number of magpies. In a rather pontifical manner, he drew some lessons, based upon entirely false premises, about heavy industry, who he said were far behind the consuming industries in their esthetic approach. I doubt whether the large manufacturers of turbines or even of locomotives would feel very sensitive to this question. When one sees well-designed power stations, I wonder whether the concrete gnomes and flights of duck over bathrooms, and such things, should not make one feel that we in heavy industry ought not to be so criticised. Most of the products of heavy industry go to the great nationalised 1241 bodies, and it is far easier to get a standard of design accepted by a large customer like that than it is to force a good design upon the people who want concrete gnomes in their gardens.
I would ask whether it sounds right that a country as supreme in Europe as we are, for example in poetry, and a country which can claim some fairly distinguished names—Sir Christopher Wren, Nash, and the Adam Brothers amongst its architects, and Chippendale and Sheraton among its designers, should spew out from its factories certain products. I must confess that my own industry on the consumer side is one of the worst offenders; I think we are a little better now. But when I first saw the electric light fittings produced (shall we say?) chiefly by my competitors they appeared to be like a number of illuminated dental fillings; and they are not all that much better now.
Then there are the fabrics in imitation of a lost society. I never feel very comfortable sitting in a chair with the Pytchley hounds in full cry. I feel we could do better than that, and noble Lords will very likely, before they go to bed to-night, have that experience. In my ministerial life at the Board of Trade I was responsible for doing something to further British taste in textiles by official support. I claim that this effort has had considerable success and many of our fabrics reached very high standards of design and attraction. I think that anybody looking at this Report would feel that a great deal had been done since I was a young man—just after the Crimea —when these things were not so good. Now they have certainly improved a great deal, but there is very much more to be done. That is all I have to say about the commercial aspects of this question.
I should like to conclude very shortly by a word on the wider aspects of æsthetic responsibility. It sounds pretty portentous. I can see no reason—it requires only a little trouble—why we should leave monuments to posterity which may well be representative of the lowest and most vulgarised sections of our taste. To-day we have nearly, but not quite, worked ourselves into the belief that what is purely functional is ipso facto æsthetically desirable. If that point of view had any foundation, we could well 1242 imagine the collectors and heads of the museums in the twenty-second century equipping their room containing the products of the twentieth century with nothing but water closets, petrol pumps and Flit guns. But any reflection, I think, would show that what is functional is not ipso facto beautiful. We all know that, and the proposition is clearly absurd, and yet it is hardly less absurd than the converse, which is to imagine that what is purely functional must ipso facto violate, or fall short of, the canons of æsthetic propriety.
Taxation, as I should say, or progress as some noble Lords opposite who are Socialists would perhaps say, has destroyed the patronage of the privileged class. No longer can the eldest sons of your Lordships make the grand tour and return with some of the spoils of the Italian Renaissance to grace English homes, and to help form the taste of future generations. All art depends largely on the patron, and with a wide, increasing and better educated public we must by corporate action replace the private patron, sometimes by State help as in the National Gallery or the National Theatre, and at others by helping private bodies such as the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers, which, without diffidence, I bring to the attention of your Lordships this afternoon.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, I am not going to delay your Lordships very long. Having just listened to the most entertaining speech of my noble friend Lord Chandos, whom I think we hear too rarely in this House, I will just add one or two points to this debate as Chairman of the Consumer Council. The Report, I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Mancroft, is a most admirable document and beautifully produced; it has everything we want to see and read and it has every merit. There are in it two or three references to the consumer and to the Consumer Council. I think that my organisation has a very close association with the Council of Industrial Design. I think that we can work closely together—I hope we shall—and I can assure your Lordships, and those interested in the Council of Industrial Design, that it is one of the things that 1243 I am most anxious we should do. I think our interests are closely allied.
It is important that everything that can be done to raise the standard of taste and production—that the Council are doing—should be backed up by those of us who are trying to raise the taste of the public. On that my Council has embarked—on an educational programme which I hope will lead to people who go into the shops asking for the goods which are of good design.
My second reason for taking part is that we in the Consumer Council are also working for something which has not been mentioned to-day, but which I think is part of the whole idea of design, and that is the Craft Centre and the work of craftsmen, which is being threatened by their not having enough money and not being able to develop their work. A great many noble Lords have spoken about the importance of design for industry and the consumer. My noble friend Lord Mancroft mentioned one or two lines on which the Council of Industrial Design are embarking, which I think are most interesting, and will be of great interest to the consumer. He also mentioned (and on this I entirely agree with him) the extraordinary conservatism of taste of the ordinary person in this country. This has nothing at all to do with politics. It is just that what people know, see every day and are used to is what, on the whole, they like. If the "what-not" is not where the "what-not" was before, they really do not like it as much as they thought they would: and this, of course, is very inhibiting to those people who want to encourage originality, as we all do. We want to encourage new designers.
I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, that the status of the designer is something we want to encourage. Why should people not be known by their names as great designers? My noble friend Lord Chandos has spoken of the great Paris designers who, as he rightly said, have done such marvels for France. Let us see that the great designers of any object are known by name and recognised. It is no good, as my noble friend Lord Mancroft said, producing something which the consumer does not want to buy; and his story of the carpet is, I am afraid, one that could 1244 be repeated on many occasions. Again, how often does one go into a shop and see something which attracts one because it is of good and attractive design, only to find when one looks at it that it comes from abroad; it is a foreign object? It may not be of such good quality, but the design is one that attracts us. Therefore, I think it is most important that we should encourage the British designer to produce original designs.
I well remember the work of the late Sir Ambrose Heal, which was so original and brought quite new ideas and designs into the very simplest household goods many years ago. To-day, the firm of Heal's, under his son, is carrying on and is producing original and beautiful designs. Someone said, I think quite rightly, that it is not only in the expensive shops that we want to see beautiful designs, but also in the shops selling less expensive goods; and that can equally well be done. It is a question of encouraging the designer in the first place. The noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, emphasised the importance of the fitness for purpose of new designs. They must be easy to obtain, and the cost of production must not be too high. We want to encourage good design and the cost must be something which the consumer can pay for.
It is interesting if one looks back. Only the other day, I discovered in an attic in my home a telephone which I think must be sixty years old. It was probably the first ever put into the house, and it was the most extraordinary object I have ever looked at. It bore absolutely no resemblance to the neat, coloured object which we have put on our desk to-day, and when I looked at it I thought to myself: What a long way we have come from this Victorian object—I suppose it was considered a masterpiece in its time—to the present simple and every-day object which is very well suited for the job we want it to do. I think that from time to time it is a good thing to compare the past with the present, because we then see how far we have come in good design.
I should like to say one word about this question of craftsmen and the encouragement of craftsmen. Both in Scotland and in London there are Craft Centres—places where individual craftsmen can send their work, and where it 1245 can be judged by experts. If it is sufficiently good and practical it can be taken for industrial use. I think it is important to encourage originality and new designs in both materials and workmanship, and the Crafts Council exist to encourage this type of work. The Council of Industrial Design are, I know, anxious to display the work of individual craftsmen, and have offered to organise a display when their new display rooms are ready. I want to urge this on the Board of Trade and the Minister, and to ask whether they will support this and not turn it down merely because it will cost a little money. It may, in the long run, save a lot of money, since who knows that some budding genius may not hit on a design of great value to manufacturers and industry, and of great help to the consumer? Of course, it is necessary to he selective, and not all craftsmanship is good; but, in that way, we may find something that will be of great value. I hope that the Design Centre will be able to take this up, and that the Board of Trade will not jib at having to produce £16,000 or £18,000, since that is a very small sum of money, compared to the amount of money which has to be spent on getting good designs; and I hope that this will help in the search for good design and skilled workmanship.
My Lords, I believe that the public do respond. I have said that they are conservative, and it is true that a large proportion of them are. But there is a proportion, perhaps the younger members of the public, which more readily responds to new ideas in this generation than in some others, since they travel abroad; they go and see things which they have never seen before, and their eyes get more accustomed to change. Certainly that is so in new building. If one may take the illustration given by the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, that of Coventry Cathedral, what could be a greater demonstration of appreciation of something exquisitely beautiful and entirely new, a conception which staggers one when seeing it for the first time, than the fact that it has brought hundreds of thousands of people to look at new materials used in a new way, with new design, new inspiration? It is something which I do not think any 1246 other country in the world has bettered in our generation.
There is another building which, together with the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, I saw quite recently. I refer to the Co-operative Insurance Building in Manchester, in which everything is contemporary. The design is contemporary, the furnishings are contemporary, the panelling is contemporary and the pictures are contemporary. The only thing I saw which might be called classical was a beautiful drawing by Augustus John, but all the rest, from top to bottom, was entirely new, and in an extraordinarily successful way. I had the pleasure of meeting the people who were working in the building, and they obviously thought it was a most exciting and interesting place in which to work. It was in every sense a splendid demonstration of good design and good workmanship, done in a practical and very effective manner. I think that there is an opportunity to do these things now, when there is so much new building going on, if people have the courage to take the contemporary and use it in the way in which I saw it used that day in Manchester.
But, as the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, has said, craftsmen and designers need patrons, and the patrons of to-day are not the same as the patrons of the past. The noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, has mentioned some of the patrons of to-day—the big companies, the public bodies, the education authorities, the commercial enterprises—who are developing new buildings all over the country and abroad, where some of our work can undoubtedly have a great effect. I should like to see all those bodies commission the artists, the craftsmen and the designers in work on the buildings which are being put up every day in this country at the present time. Do let us get away from the mock Gothic. I think that a Motion has been set down on our Order Paper by one of your Lordships about not building mock Gothic on to this great Parliament building. That is another subject, but let us get away from the "mock". Let us do things which are genuine and new, and which give people the opportunity of building to-day in the contemporary design and spirit. In all this we have the help of all the modern media, including, of course, advertising, the Press, 1247 the B.B.C., television and so on. All these things can help to create public taste, and I think we ought to accept this and bravely encourage everything that can bring new ideas, new design and new development.
I want to say one final word, and it refers to the consumers—that is to say, all those people who go in and buy all these new and lovely goods—and to the effect that design has on the quality and reliability of goods coming off the production lines into the hands of the consumers. We on the Consumer Council are aware of the very high percentage of complaints which derive from unnecessary faults that develop in consumer goods almost from the moment they are passed to the consumers. These may be caused by faulty design or faulty workmanship. Both these defects could be eliminated by encouraging better design and by insisting on close inspection at the factory before the goods reach the shops. Putting something right once the goods have been taken home is a most time-consuming and heart-breaking job, both for the buyer and for the manufacturer, and could be avoided before the goods reach the shops.
Recently, there was brought to my notice an item in the Press which quoted a case where the cost of a replacement for a faulty part of a refrigerator was 8s. 6d. Whether it concerned any of the industries in which the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, has an interest, I do not know; but, anyway, this refrigerator had some fault in the design of the handle. By the time it was put right, the cost to the unfortunate person who owned the refrigerator was £9, although the actual little thing that was required cost only 8s. 6d. If such faults develop in exported goods, then the harm done is far greater, and more difficult to rectify. Therefore, the design of an article must meet not only the needs of the consumer, but also the needs of production. Many complaints about consumer goods can be traced right back to the original design. I should like to see the voice of the consumer carried right back to the designer.
My Lords, I should like simply to join with other noble Lords in congratulating the Council of Industrial Design on the work which they have 1248 done and are continuing to do; to thank the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, very much for the admirable speech with which he opened this debate; and to say that, so far as my Council are concerned, we shall do everything we can to support the work of the Council of Industrial Design.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, may I at the outset congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, both on the subject that he chose this afternoon and on the admirable speech which he made in opening this debate? Many of those who have spoken have had the justification of a first-hand experience in industry or, in the case of the noble Lord, Lord Llewelyn-Davies, the experience of being himself a designer. I have no such qualifications, though I have had perhaps an experience which is relevant to to-day's debate. I can claim a continuous enthusiasm for the cause of good design and some experience derived from my long membership of the Design and Industries Association, of which I had the honour to be President from 1957 to 1959.
It was in the early days of that institution that I first met Frank Pick and Sir Ambrose Heal, who have been mentioned, and discussed some of these great matters with them. A little over twenty years ago I addressed that Association on the subject of "Design and Mass Production ", and just over seven years ago I addressed them again on the recently opened Design Centre, with the plans for which I had been much concerned at the Board of Trade between 1951 and 1955. May I say how much I agree with all noble Lords, on both sides of the House, who have said what admirable work the Council of Industrial Design has done, and how well it has served the national interest. If I may mention one name which I think has not yet been mentioned, I would mention in addition to my friend Mr. Paul Reilly the great contribution made by the first Director of the Design Centre, Sir Gordon Russell.
My Lords, there is another body mentioned this afternoon with which I have also been connected and which has given me some experience in this matter. That body is the Royal Society of Arts. It may be known to noble Lords that 1249 the Royal Society of Arts gives every year a number of bursaries for designers who win practical competitions in many fields; and it has been my duty as a member of the Council to be chairman of one of the juries for a year or two acting with experts in judging the entries submitted. That enables me to pay a tribute to the admirable work being done by some of our schools, such as the Central School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal College of Art.
The work submitted by young pupils from these and other bodies all over the country is both promising and increasingly promising each year. It is rather pleasant, when we have awarded the bursaries, that we see the winners and they tell us how they propose to spend the money included in the bursary on improving their qualifications and their capacity to produce good design. They nearly always choose—and they are encouraged to choose—travel abroad; and they often include a visit to the Milan Triennale which has been mentioned in several speeches.
If I may, I propose to concentrate on what I believe to be the most important truths about good design. I believe that the cause can be made much more comprehensible to manufacturers, traders and customers than is often supposed. I also believe that many erroneous beliefs are still widely held. I was delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Llewelyn-Davies, at the outset of a speech with which I almost entirely agreed, said that he fully accepted the definition of "fitness for use" or "fitness for purpose" as the very essence of good design. Fitness for purpose is, and must always be, the main criterion of whether an article is good or bad. An article of good design is a delight to the eye and a delight to the mind; it satisfies both the æsthetic sense and the reason by serving with precision and economy the purpose for which it was made. For supreme excellence something more may be needed; but without fitness for purpose no excellence is possible. There is nothing new about this; nor will it ever cease to be true.
In my final message, I think, as President, to the Design and Industries Association I ventured to give them two quotations, one from a great philosopher and one from a great designer—Plato and the great Josiah Wedgwood. The quo- 1250 tation from Plato occurs in The Republic and is this:May we not say generally that the excellence or beauty or rightness of any implement or living creature or action has reference to the use for which it is made or designed by nature?Yes.It follows, then, that the user must know most about the performance of the thing he uses and must report on its good or bad points to the maker. The flute-player, for example, will tell the instrument maker how well his flutes serve the player's purpose, and the other will submit to be instructed about how they should be made.Now let me quote a short extract from a letter of Josiah Wedgwood to his partner Bentley:Mrs. Wedgwood has tried our new teapots, of which we send you one, and gives them her sanction, as the best and most pleasantest to the hand she has ever used. I wish Mrs. Bentley would be so good as to use this pot and favour me with her corrections that we may bring them out as perfect as may be.My Lords, the result was the Wedgwood teapot which is still, I think, quite unbeatable and which sells, and will continue to sell, all over the world. Contrast the Wedgwood teapot produced by the method I have described with those saucepans you can still, or could recently, find in the shops, with a lip from which to pour the contents but from which it is, in fact, impossible to pour.
Honesty is absolutely fundamental to good design. If an article is dishonest, it is bad, and sooner or later will repel everyone of taste—everyone, that is to say, with a good eye and a good mind. The dishonesty of an article can take three forms, and I will give an example of each. First of all, the article may pretend to be a different article from what it is: an electric light pretends to be a wax candle; and to make it convincing the wax candle pretends to gutter. Or an electric fire imitates a coal fire and flickers—and there are some very unfortunate examples of that not very far from this Chamber. The first form of dishonesty, therefore, is that the article pretends to be a different article from what it is. The second form of dishonesty is that it pretends to be made of one material when, in fact, it is made of another. Plastics, for example, are made to imitate wood. Plastics form a very important and excellent industry; they ought to stand on their own merits. 1251 It is not a good idea to think that plastics ought to imitate anything else.
Finally, my Lords, the most extraordinary example of dishonesty—and one which I would ask noble Lords carefully to note—occurs when an article pretends to be made by one process when, in fact, it has been made by another. The best example of this that I know is silverware. Silver can be raised by the hand or it can be spun on a machine. When silver is raised from the flat by hand, the craftsman takes great trouble to remove the hammer marks and uses a planishing tool for the purpose. When the article is spun on a machine, the more fatuous manufacturer proceeds to break the smooth surface by introducing hammer marks. In other words, he gives the finished article the disadvantages of the process by which it has not been made. Can idiocy go further? I have given three types of bad design, all of which are quite common to-day; and the sooner the public awake to the simple facts the better.
My Lords, I now come to another error that I believe to be very common. The search for good design is a search for excellence. It is not a search for novelty. If you search for excellence and achieve it, your design will very often, but not invariably, be novel. But if you search for novelty, your designs are most unlikely to be excellent. I think that probably the noble Lord, Lord Llewelyn-Davies, will agree with these words of Mies van der Rohe:I do not wish to be considered an original architect, only good".That is the right attitude of the designer. A good designer will seek to attain excellence by designing an article to serve its purpose with precision and economy. If he succeeds, the article will have style and may be beautiful. I agree with my noble friend Lord Chandos that not every article may be strikingly beautiful, but I think a man would be a person with a poor eye and poor mind who could not see beauty, for example, in the shears produced by the Wilkinson Sword Company.
Beauty and style are not added to an article otherwise complete. They are an intrinsic grace or perfection that is found in an article that precisely serves its purpose. One of the worst errors of 1252 manufacturers is to think that style is something to add to the completed article and not an essential part of the article from its inception. I have known manufacturers say to themselves, "Shall it be traditional or contemporary?" One manufacturer of rather poor furniture once remarked to me, "Contemporary style is the style of the future"—which seemed to indicate a curious process of thought, that I have always remembered. When a manufacturer asks himself that question, he is indulging in an absurd dichotomy. A good designer will always design for the age in which he lives. In that sense, all his work will be contemporary. That does not mean that tradition will never influence him. Unlike some retailers, he does not regard traditional and contemporary as alternative forms of fancy dress.
About twenty years ago, during the war, I had a friend who enriched not only the art of painting, but also industrial design—Eric Ravilious, who was lost on a flight to Iceland when serving as a war artist for the Admiralty. He was not only a good painter, as many of your Lordships may know. He visited the Potteries and watched the work proceeding in the potteries themselves. He then did his admirable designs for Wedgwood. The last time I met him, he told me how thrilled he was with his experience in a textile factory. He wanted to know how textiles were produced, before he attempted to design them. No doubt, had he lived he would have been equally distinguished in that field.
In common with most noble Lords who have spoken, I think that in many fields of production our designers and manufacturers, at their best, are as good as any in the world. If I may, I should like to repeat what I wrote about motor cars in 1959. I was giving examples of some things that seemed to me unfit for their purpose. People often talk nowadays as if everything were fit for its purpose, but that is not the case. I wrote:How often a new model of a motor car is advertised as 'longer and lower'. By being longer it is made more difficult to park. By being lower it is made more difficult to enter and leave, and less comfortable to sit in. 'Shorter and higher' would make a far stronger appeal to the intelligent, as some enterprising manufacturer will doubtless dis- 1253 cover. By their skill and enterprise our car manufacturers have won a great export trade. In this they have been greatly helped by the American manufacturers, whose expensive, inconvenient and hideous products have caused many potential customers to buy European cars. Our manufacturers are far more likely to retain these oversea markets by a close study of customers' convenience than by the adoption of slogans believed to represent current fashion.I heartily agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Llewelyn-Davies, said about built-in obsolescence, except that I thought that he slightly underestimated the evil, because the search for built-in obsolescence is the deliberate adoption of bad design. You use all your advertising to persuade the public that it is a good design, knowing that, after they have bought it, they will discover that it is as bad as you intended it to be and will wish to buy something else a year later. Built-in obsolescence is a deliberate policy of bad design, and the sooner that is generally recognised, the better.
I have a great admiration for our motor car manufacturers at their best. For example, our largest manufacturing company have discovered a genius in design in Issigonis, and I think there is a great deal for which we should thank them. But I think that what I said in 1959 was fairly prophetic, because I see that my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport has now set up a Committee to urge the motor car manufacturers to do what I urged them to do in 1959. Before I leave motor cars, there is one other thing I would suggest. Ergonomics have been mentioned. During the war, when it was vitally important to produce planes, not only as good as possible but also as safe as possible, medical and other committees were set up at the Experimental Station at Farnborough to design the best possible cockpit for aeroplanes, so that all controls should be at the most convenient place for the man who was operating them, in order that he should be as comfortable as possible and see as much as possible. Has anything equivalent been done for the motor car? I do not think so. The motor car, which can be a lethal object on our highways, and which is generally used by various members of a family, of different heights and reaches, ought to be designed as carefully as the cockpit of an aeroplane from the point of view of safety.
1254 There is only one other industry that I should like to mention, because I think that my point concerns what the consumer can and cannot do. As another example of bad design, I wrote in 1959:Women are invited (or compelled by lack of alternative) to buy shoes with stiletto heels. A woman wearing such shoes does far more destruction to the floor of any aeroplane in which she travels than a wild rhinoceros which can be transported without doing any damage at all. Unless this is the intended result, the shoes are clearly of bad design.I believe that millions of women took the same view. But did that necessarily help them? I may say that a number of housewives either allow me to consult them or give me their views voluntarily. Quite a number of them tell me that again and again they are compelled to buy something which they think thoroughly badly designed because they get so weary going round all the shops, and being unable to find what they want, that they finally buy such goods in despair. One of the things I suggest to industry is this. I do not think they have any intelligence system for recording the dissatisfied customer, who ultimately buys something in a shop, but does so unwillingly. I think that the sooner they have such a system, the better.
The only other matter I would mention in the cause of good design is this. Very few things have improved more in recent years than our capacity for printing and good lettering. I saw at the Design Centre the other day some otherwise admirable washbasins and baths, but on the taps, which were red and green or red and blue, according to whether they were hot or cold, there was the letter "H" for hot and "C" for cold, but, instead of the symbol being put on in decent lettering, some ass had thought fit to use a most revolting Gothic lettering. I wish I could persuade all English industrialists, if they are keen on good design, to watch their design throughout all the details.
I apologise if I have detained the House for too long. I thank the noble Lord who introduced this Motion—and, incidentally, I hope he will not adopt the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, and refuse to withdraw it at the end of the proceedings. He has produced a very good debate.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, this is another of our series debates. I wonder 1255 what our future list of subjects will be. They all strikingly relate back to a debate we had a short time ago. We seem to have an infinite capacity for new subjects which, one might say, fit into a design of Parliamentary discussion. I am sure my noble friend Lord Peddie is well aware of the satisfaction of the House, not only in the subject he has chosen, but for the admirable way in which he introduced the debate. I think it has been particularly interesting. Again, as one or two noble Lords have said, we have mustered the usual amount of quality and expert knowledge that never seems to fail.
I think it is difficult to single out particular speeches, although 1 feel I must refer to the speech of my noble friend Lord Llewelyn-Davies. He may not know it, but yesterday I was talking to a number of noble Lords, and we all expected a very good speech from him. He did not disappoint us. Nor did the noble Lord, Lord Conesford. I was waiting with great interest for one of his forthright, spirited, firm dissertations on taste; and what he has applied on other occasions to the English language he has applied admirably to design. But I think the noble Lord fell into his own trap. He said that the material must look what it really is, or words to that effect. I do not know what a plastic looks like. I do not know what the basic nature of a plastic should be. It may be wrong for a plastic to look like wood, but apparently it is all right for a plastic to look like linoleum.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, what I mean is that plastics give the designer an extraordinary freedom. I think he should use what he thinks the nicest surface, colour and pattern. What he should not do, it seems to me, is to imitate anything.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
I should have liked to pursue that point, because I think there are some interesting pitfalls in the argument of the noble Lord. But I am sure we all generally agree with him that we do not want the spurious. The use of Gothic characters in lavatories is, I suppose, a sort of form of concealment of modesty. I am not certain of this, and I should like to ask a psychologist why people should do it. It 1256 is rather like their custom, when saying something in front of the children which they think is immodest, to go into what they call French. There is something of that nature about it.
We have had a not-too-long debate, and I think the subject has been fully covered. A number of noble Lords have said what they believe industrial design to be, and have also attempted to suggest the way it fits into the grand design. Here, I think, is probably the greatest difficulty, because, on the one hand, one finds the proponents of design elevating it to the highest role of importance, while, on the other, are those who, if aware of it at all, treat it as purely an appendage. It is one of many (I hesitate to use the word "components") elements that go into a product. All of these elements go into the making of the product, and none of them is strictly comparable. You put into a product capital, labour, management, skill, engineering, salesmanship and design; but of course they are all different in their way. Certain of them have particular relationships. It is, in a way, like one of those peculiar patterns one sees on a molecule, with a lot of lines. squares and rounds drawn together, and somewhere a design comes into it. But it has a wider factor; it has a cohesive force in this particular model, and of course it is particularly important as a bridge between sales and the manufacturer.
The good designer, like the good personnel officer, simply cannot achieve anything unless the principal management understand what it is all about. It is not only the designer in industry who is frustrated, but also the labour officer; and, in certain circumstances, it may be the engineer. It means that if you have ill-informed decisions, which really means ill-informed directors and ill-informed management, you will get bad design.
This brings me to the point of management. So often when we debate matters in this House which are the subject of dispute and trouble outside, particularly in industry, we are all agreed. Even though politically we may be opposed, clearly we have broken through, so we think, at an intellectual level. The noble Viscount, Lord Chandos (I am sorry he is not here), may look rather like a 1257 picture of a tough tycoon, but he is a very civilised intellectual—he may not like being called an intellectual. No doubt the same applies to the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, in his textile firm. It is necessary for management to understand design in the widest way and to realise, as somebody said, that the society which scorns excellence in plumbing, because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy, because it is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
This brings us back to management. We have talked a great deal about management in the past, and all we can say is that we want better management. Of course, we want better designers, too, but it is no use having better designers unless we have management, and this means management that is technically competent and, at the same time, civilised. There is general agreement, I think, that in the past our industrial design has not been as bold and as good as that of other countries. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, who spoke about the openness of mind of the British manufacturer, and used a number of similar phrases. It is, of course, a lack of openness of mind and a lack of willingness to experiment that bedevils a great deal of industry. We have said this, and agreed about this, dozens of times. It is here that the Council of Industrial Design and initiative from the Government must come in. It is the stimulus, the catalytic effect, and this is where this particular debate comes in. It is to get across these ideas to management and to the public at large, and to help in the general raising of standards and general appreciation.
There is no doubt that design in certain fields has enormously improved. I do not know what the views of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, are on this point, but I should have thought that, certainly in regard to some textile design, this country was as far ahead as any. There has been a great improvement in standard. There has been a flowering of British designers, and although we may still buy designs from abroad, none the less, I think we have every reason to be satisfied that there is improvement here. There is cer- 1258 tainly improvement in furniture. Even if visitors think they are going to find only beefeaters in this country, and are surprised to find that we can make some fine furniture and nevertheless go off to Scandinavia, at least we can improve our own living conditions. At least we can have some decent furniture in our offices.
One of the most terrible things is the awful state of many offices from a design and furniture point of view, even in enlightened firms. Sometimes they go in for a rather grand and heavy design, related in some way to the status of the individual working in the office. They do not appreciate the extreme importance that furniture, particularly office furniture, should be designed specifically for a purpose. This includes ergonomics. It is necessary for the girl at the desk to be able to put her knees under it. It is not appreciated how important this is for efficiency. However, I would say that there is a good deal of improvement, and a good deal with regard to which we can be encouraged.
Some reference has been made to the retail trade. Here again, we find the most striking differences. You may go to a supermarket with great wide windows, which may have been very well designed, and they are plastered over with the most hideous and badly designed notices about price reductions. There is no sense of feeling or beauty about the fixtures. Yet, if you go to the supermarkets of my noble friend Lord Sainsbury—and I do not particularly want to press his case—you will find a quality of design which ought to bring its reward, at least in bringing some more discerning customers in, because they will feel more at ease and more comfortable.
The problem which the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, raised with regard to selling is, of course, one which is extraordinarily difficult to solve. Personally, I think that commission is something that we want to get away from as much as we can. Certainly many of the departmental stores and many shops have now given up commission. But in the last resort, of course, we must have people selling in the shops who themselves have good taste, and who will 1259 help and encourage the discerning customer. The retailer in this matter, like the B.B.C. in relation to music, must all the time be prepared to give to the public something perhaps a little better than that to which they have hitherto been accustomed. This means that both the buyer and the seller must be bold. They must solve this problem of providing something that is good and, at the same time, saleable.
This brings us to the point which my noble friend Lord Samuel mentioned about availability. It has been suggested, I think by Mr. Paul Reilly, that availability is an additional criterion of good design. It is true that the Council of Industrial Design have frequently complained that the things which may be on display in the Design Centre are unobtainable elsewhere. There is so much of importance in regard to this that one could go on speaking about it for a long time.
I should like to make only two or three more remarks. First of all, I think it is worth noting that several noble Lords have referred to the success of particular undertakings: London Transport, British United Airways and even the L.C.C. The reason why they have had success in design is that, like I.B.M., they have treated the whole of their design as fundamental to all their activities. They have not regarded it as just a fringe activity; they have allowed it to permeate the whole life of the particular activity.
The other question which has been debated at some length is the education of the designer. I am not really competent to say very much on this, beyond the fact that there has been some pretty severe criticism. Perhaps when the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, comes to reply he might refer to the criticisms in the first Report of the Natonal Council dealing with diplomacy in art and design. There are certain paragraphs of that which suggest that the schools are starved of cash, the libraries are inadequate, there are not proper facilities, and that the payment for the staff and its employment are particularly unsatisfactory. I know that the Government will always be blamed for inadequacies, but clearly there are inadequacies, and if 1260 I had a criticism to make of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, it would be that he did not sufficiently point to the weaknesses in the present situation.
Of course, some of the other weaknesses are, first, that when these young men and women finish their training there will not be jobs for them. It needs to be recognised that at the present moment the employment prospects for designers are still nothing like as good as the output of the schools. Nor, I think, are designers, as a general rule, appreciated or paid enough. This is a point which was made, I think, by my noble friend Lady Burton of Coventry. But industry—and this is not something the Government ought to do—must be a great deal bolder. They must be prepared to take chances. They may have to take on young men and young women on a five or ten year prospect in order that their creativeness will bear fruit at the end.
My Lords, the final conclusion that I should like to come to is that I believe we have not yet appreciated enough in this debate what the state of this country will be over the next thirty to forty years if the forecasts made in earlier debates in regard to automation, industrialisation and movement of population are realised; and to-day we still see—and I know the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, does his best to battle against them—too many gross breaches of taste. Anyone who wishes to see a particular monstrosity can walk into Hyde Park and, by the Serpentine, he will see a new restaurant which I can only describe as resembling "debased festival style". How can these things be built to-day? It is here that the industrial designer must come in, as should the intelligent architect, to protect us so that in the further development of the economy, which is going to be as radical and far-reaching as anything in the Industrial Revolution, we shall not find ourselves in a different type of slag heap society—and there are dangers of this unless the rôle of the industrial designer is properly appreciated.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, if I may speak again, by leave of the House, I promise not to make another full speech, but I have been asked a number of questions and I hope the House will 1261 allow me to reply to them. First of all, I should like to echo what has been said by the last few speakers, and say what an extraordinarily stimulating debate this has been, with a great number of very interesting speeches of the highest quality. The theme running throughout the debate has been, I think, the tremendous importance of design in this country and the integral part of all design in the projects themselves. I think one or two speakers at times seemed to get away from this, trying to discuss whether efficiency and output were separate, whether one could be added to the other, and so forth; but the main theme has been that design is an integral part of the product and, for that reason, designers must be an integral part of management.
My noble friend Lord Eccles drew attention to the fact that in many ways the manufacturer has to produce what the consumer wants; and he then, very rightly I think, took this rather further back and said that one of the things that have to be done is to influence the consumer in what she should want, and he dwelt on what has been done in education and the very great influence that the young people have in decreeing taste at the present time. I think we would all agree that there has been a conscious effort to try to give our young people the opportunity of growing up in an atmosphere in which they see appropriately designed objects round about them.
I thought the noble Lord, Lord Llewelyn-Davies, whose speech we all enjoyed so much, did a little less than justice to the exhibition of the primary school which won the Triennale Fair Award, because it was, of course, completely equipped. It was not just the architecture but the complete equipment of the school which mattered. I think it is in the general environment that we are trying to create for our young people that we place the hope of improving taste in the future.
The noble Lord laid very great stress on education for the designers. We all realise that this is a fairly new field, and I do not think we should expect perfection in this matter in any way. I personally would agree with a great deal of what he said, although this is outside the sphere of the Board of Trade, 1262 but I said in the course of my speech that the basic requirements from the point of view of education for designers are of the greatest importance and they are, of course, extremely wide, which is one of the great difficulties. I liked what the noble Lord had to say about catching the "over-achievers" and fitting them in. The noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, is not here, but I could not help thinking that he showed his usual signs of being an "over-achiever" in the appeal that he succeeded in making for the Society of Industrial Designers.
I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Llewelyn-Davies, that the Secretary of State for Education and Science has the point about post-graduate schools very much in mind and is considering some suggestions from the Coldstream Council about them. The need for postgraduate courses to bring the holders of Diploma of Art and Design up to full professional competence is recognised. Whether it would be feasible to include courses from people of other disciplines is a matter which the Secretary of State will wish to consider further. I am sorry if I in any way gave the impression that I thought everything in the garden was perfect so far as education was concerned. In the nature of the case it could not be so at the present time. All I did was to try to convey the impression that a great deal was happening in this field and that we are watching developments with the closest attention. So many noble Lords have spoken of the need to develop the status of the professional body that I do not think there is anything I need add to that, particularly as it is not a matter within the purview of the Government. But I am quite certain that I speak for the Government when I say that we should be delighted to see developments of this character.
I should like to answer two points made by my noble friend Lord Eccles, first of all with regard to the premises of the Council of Industrial Design. As I said in the course of my speech, the increase in the Council's grant for the current year will enable them to obtain additional exhibition space. What they are going to do is to re-house in a building nearby the offices which at present are occupying part of the space in the Haymarket. In the area which is set 1263 free the Council intend to hold "thematic" exhibitions, the first of which, as I said, is expected to be one of capital goods; and the second, I would say to my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood, is expected to be one of crafts. As to the contruction of new premises, that is a matter which would certainly involve a great deal of money, as well as much careful consideration; and while I am sure this is something to which we may look in the future, I do not think I can say very much to my noble friend as to the immediate prospects.
On the second point he asked, the question of the design exhibition in the near future, I can tell my noble friend that the Council for Industrial Design did put forward his proposals for such an exhibition. We have agreed with the idea and are making an additional grant of £25,000 over and above the vote. We make that sum available towards the cost over and above the ordinary grant to the Council, and I believe that the Council are actively working on the project at the present time.
Both the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, and my noble friend Lord Mancroft stressed the need for greater encouragement and improvement in the status of designers. I took note of Lord Mancroft's suggestion that the successor to Sir Duncan Oppenheim, when we come to that, should be someone concerned with the heavy industries. While not necessarily associating myself with his strictures or with the reply given by my noble friend Lord Chandos, I would stress again the importance that we attach to design in the heavy industries. The noble Lord asked what the Government can do and what lead they can give. I do not think we ought to underestimate the lead that has been given, so far as the purchasing officers of Government Departments are concerned, a lead that has been given through the Council for Industrial Design. As he is well aware, the Council of Industrial Design are seeking to raise the standards by having courses for purchasing officers in Government Departments.
Incidentally, I agree very much with what he said about the hospitals. I know that my right honourable friend 1264 the Minister of Health considered that far too many designs of different characters are used in the hospitals, which means that purchasing is not as economic as it might be, quite apart from the fact that there is room for improvement in the design of what is purchased. That is one of the objects of the courses which the Council of Industrial Design are running. Of course the Board of Trade are by no means the only Department involved; this covers a very much wider field.
He asked whether we were consulted, and the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, also asked what sort of control was exercised over goods designed for exhibition overseas. Where they are "thematic" exhibitions, control is of course exercised, although generally speaking the control is exercised by the Central Office of Information, which is the Government agent for exhibitions overseas, its chosen instrument. The Central Office of Information is used for the setting up of Government pavilions and the like in other forms of exhibition, whether they be trade fairs or anything else. At trade fairs, where the purpose of course is to sell, the choice as to what is to be displayed on industry's own stands, the space that industry itself takes, must quite obviously lie with industry. The Council of Industrial Design collection at Dusseldorf, for example, and the other places where displays are made are, I can assure noble Lords, strictly controlled, and the Council of Industrial Design normally confine the choice of products shown overseas to those goods on the Design Index at the Design Centre. There was another small exhibit there which showed a British interior at Dusseldorf, and that was organised by the Ideal Home Exhibition which presumably insisted on a high degree of control as well. As I say, while this applies to exhibitions, trade fairs are quite different.
And then, of course, when we come to British Weeks one tries to get focal points with the Council of Industrial Design exhibit, so that the new may be shown, though one expects to have a great deal of the traditional shown at the same time. It is a fact that, so far as the displays arranged by the shops in Dusseldorf were concerned, they 1265 themselves used the old attractions, if I may call them so—the Beefeaters, Guardsmen, pipers and all the rest of it. Sometimes I am told that the bodies had to be carried off in order to be cleaned up—that is to say, the bodies of Guardsmen and the like on duty at various points. It was not unimpressive, and the fact seems to be that it was successful and something one ought not to neglect. According to what I was told (and I did visit the British Week in its last days), the various displays that were run by the big departmental stores undoubtedly had drawn in the public in considerable numbers to the displays of British goods that were being sold inside. And, of course, one object of these British Weeks, one of the reasons why the Council of Industrial Design go and show what might be termed the forward-looking design, is to encourage the firms who are holding British goods, selling British goods and having displays of British goods, to stock and sell the new as well as the old. This, I think, is an important function they perform.
I do not want to detain the House any further. Perhaps I ought just to reply very shortly to what my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood said. I think perhaps she rather underrated as I understand it, the figure that was put in by the Council of Industrial Design for their proposal in regard to the display of craft goods. However that may be, we were not able, as I said, to accommodate it in the extra vote; we were not able to provide for that as well as the increased activities I mentioned in the course of my speech. But this does not mean that we do not appreciate the importance of the crafts. We do recognise they play a part in the life of the community as well as in the education of industrial designers. I am very glad to hear that one of the earliest shows in the new exhibition area will be a special exhibition of craft work. In the meantime, not only is the Craft Centre continuing under the new Director, at Hay Hill, but a new Crafts Council of Great Britain has been formed. I think I should make it clear that, from the Board of Trade point of view, our primary concern with any proposal for public expenditure in this sphere must be the contribution which it would make to the improvement of design in indus- 1266 try generally. However, we shall watch all these developments and we shall always be willing to review the position in the light of experience gained.
I hope that I have covered most of the points made. A great deal of things have been said in this debate which seem to be memorable, not least the speech of my noble friend Lord Conesford. What I think is so significant was the very great degree of agreement that has been achieved throughout this debate. I understand that the noble Lord would like to have this Motion carried. I am quite prepared to fall in with his wishes in that. I only hope that he will make it abundantly clear that in carrying the Motion this implies no criticism whatsoever of the Council of Industrial Design, who have done a magnificent job. I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, say that, while certainly there is a long way to go, there are signs of improvement and that we are going forward in this. On that rather happy spirit of unanimity—and I agree that this debate fits in very well with the debates that we have had in the past—the whole feeling has been that we have to modernise, we have to improve our managements, we have to take advantage of all developments taking place; and it is up to all of us, in the Government and elsewhere, to carry this forward so far as possible and to the utmost of our ability.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ LORD PEDDIE
My Lords, I would thank the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, for his reply to this debate. It would be churlish on my part to attempt at this late stage to underline many of the comments that have already been made. I merely take this opportunity of expressing my thanks to all who have taken part in the debate and who out of their experience have made a great contribution. I am sure the words that have been uttered during the debate will provide an inspiration and an incentive to those who are responsible for the development of industrial design.
At this stage it is the normal practice to ask for leave to withdraw the Motion; but in view of the words that I have just heard expressed by the noble Lord opposite, and as an indication of the unanimity of the House, I would ask 1267 for the Motion to stand. I would, of course, give a complete assurance that in this there is no criticism whatsoever of the Council of Industrial Design; on the contrary, I think my own speech, and every speech during the debate, has expressed compliments towards, and has been an indication of, the valuable work of, the Council of Industrial Design in the past, and has expressed the hope that they will have the power and the means even to improve upon the great work that they have done and are doing. I therefore ask your Lordships to agree to the Motion.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.