The foun­da­tions of our fu­ture

Country Life Every Week - - Contents -

Fail­ing an act of god—or an un­holy (and un­likely) al­liance be­tween Michael He­sel­tine and Tony Blair—it’s safe to say that Bri­tain will leave the EU in the next few years and the time will come to have a long, hard think about how, as a newly au­ton­o­mous trad­ing na­tion, we set out our stall. When, in very dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances, a younger and newly elected Mr Blair set out to buff up our pro­file, he de­cided that our fu­ture lay in cham­pi­oning our cre­ativ­ity, in par­tic­u­lar that of Young Bri­tish artists and mu­si­cians such as Blur and Oa­sis.

The cur­rent gov­ern­ment’s more com­plex chal­lenge will re­quire a good deal more than chum­my­ing up to rock stars and con­cep­tual artists. What im­age will Bri­tain now project? a pow­er­house of fi­nan­cial ser­vices? a leader in tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tion? Or will we re­vive the glo­ries of our man­u­fac­tur­ing past?

More­over, how much will we play on our her­itage? This might have been an un­cool word in the heady days of Cool Bri­tan­nia, but, two decades on, those in the de­sign in­dus­try have come to recog­nise that it’s an es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ent of our Dna. it’s also some­thing that’s in­creas­ingly seen in a new light; her­itage pro­vides lessons from the past that do a huge amount to in­form our un­der­stand­ing of the fu­ture.

in this week’s is­sue, we ex­plore the wealth of tal­ent that Bri­tain has in ar­chi­tec­ture, build­ing, interior de­sign and gar­den de­sign (page 59). The char­ac­ter­is­tic shared by those fea­tured is not just cre­ativ­ity, but also an ac­cu­mu­lated un­der­stand­ing of how build­ings, in­te­ri­ors and gar­dens have evolved, as well as the ma­te­ri­als and crafts­man­ship that make them the way they are.

although most of the 100 prac­ti­tion­ers in­cluded on the list em­ploy rel­a­tively small teams, the pa­tron­age they be­stow on crafts­peo­ple and con­trac­tors with highly spe­cialised skills should never be un­der­es­ti­mated: join­ers, plas­ter­ers up­hol­ster­ers, carvers and weavers, who em­ploy tech­niques that stretch back cen­turies, yet are rel­e­vant to mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign.

Then there are the Bri­tish man­u­fac­tur­ers us­ing lo­cally sourced ma­te­ri­als to make fur­ni­ture, floor­ing, light­ing, wall­pa­per and tex­tiles that don’t just fur­nish projects on our home turf, but also all over the world.

How­ever, their ben­e­fit to a new, au­ton­o­mous Bri­tain isn’t just com­mer­cial —these highly evolved skills are what mar­ke­teers call a unique sell­ing point (and the rest of us call a dis­tin­guish­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic). it plays to our strengths in a way that no end of writ­ing code on Lon­don’s Sil­i­con Round­about ever will.

Those same mar­ke­teers might also say that they re­flect well on our brand— and they would be right, be­cause, in a vir­tual world where so much is with­out sub­stance, there is noth­ing that is more sub­stan­tial than a beau­ti­fully de­signed, fur­nished and con­structed house set in a breath­tak­ing gar­den.

Pine­hurst II, Pine­hurst Road, Farn­bor­ough Busi­ness Park, Farn­bor­ough, Hamp­shire GU14 7BF Tele­phone 01252 555072 www.coun­

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