Habitat and Design Museum founder says design can invigorate ailing economy

The government should promote British design to help the country out of its economic malaise, Sir Terence Conran said today.

Speaking at the launch of £80m plans to build a new Design Museum at the grade-II listed former Commonwealth Institute building off Kensington High Street, Conran said the government should look to build on the success of designers such as James Dyson and Apple’s Jonathan Ive.

The 80-year-old Conran co-founded the Design Museum as well as retailer Habitat and in the eighties persuaded then prime minister Margaret Thatcher to put Design and Technology back on the National Curriculum.

“I hope the new Design Museum will persuade the government that design, whether it be in housing, transport or whatever is vital and can improve the quality of life in this country,” he said.

“We are thought of in the rest of the world as the most creative nation in the world and yet we don’t seem to recognise that in our own country.

“The government must recognise … that we can duplicate the success of Dyson, Ive and [fashion brand] Burberry in many other areas.”

Conran, who is also chairman of architecture practice Conran & Partners, has made a £17.5m donation towards the building of the new Design Museum, which is seeking to retain the spirit of the original 1960s RMJM-designed Commonwealth Institute.