Terence Conran: government must support design sector in face of Brexit

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Terence Conran: UK government must support the design sector in face of Brexit

Brexit: legendary British designer Terence Conran says the UK's "belligerent, cocksure" designers can remain competitive outside of the EU, as long as they have government support.

Conran said that the results of the EU Referendum were "profoundly depressing" but that the design sector needed to look to the future.

"As an industry, designers are a belligerent, cocksure bunch oozing creativity, wit and fighting spirit," he said. "More than ever we will need to use our creativity and intelligence to remain competitive in the world."

"We can do this but need strong backing from government, who must see this as an opportunity to refresh and revitalise our manufacturing abilities," he added.

Conran said that leaving the EU would put the UK at a disadvantage both in terms of trade and knowledge sharing.

He called on the design sector to fight "tooth and nail" to keep its international mix of employees and make sure that talented UK designers can work in Europe.

"The spirit of intelligent collaboration must continue," said Conran.

"The one thing Brexit cannot do is change the European outlook so many of us hold so dearly. We must never, ever stop thinking of ourselves as European."

Conran, 84, is one of the best-known names in British design, and a founder of London's Design Museum.

He launched his first design firm in 1954 in London's Notting Hill and went on to set up the UK's first major high-street design store with Habitat, which introduced European staples like the duvet to the British market.

"[Brexit] is contrary to everything we raged against in the 1950s and 60s as 'industrial artists' trying to drag grey, dispirited England forward to a more enjoyable, invigorating style of life," he said.

Conran spoke as Dezeen finalised a Brexit manifesto for the UK's design sector, which it plans to present to the government.

The manifesto will outline the importance of the sector for the UK and the key issues the government must address to protect its future.

It follows calls for a manifesto that would dispel "elitist" perceptions of the sector, from designers and architects that attended Dezeen's Brexit design summit in June.

Update: the Brexit Design Manifesto was launched in September 2016. It is a message to the UK government about the importance of the architecture and design sector. To read the full manifesto and find out how to sign, visit www.dezeen.com/manifesto.

Read the full statement from Terence Conran: