Why isn’t the UK Government acting to curb the scandal of fake furniture?

Why isn’t the UK Government acting to curb the scandal of fake furniture?

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fake furniture

The real thing

If you’ve watched a DVD recently, it probably started with an advert highlighting that ‘you wouldn’t steal a handbag, so why would you steal a DVD?’ The point it’s making is that it’s unacceptable to buy poor quality copies of DVDs. They’re fake products and there’s a stigma attached to them, in the same way there’s a stigma attached to buying a fake watch, handbag or a forged piece of art. That’s how things should work, but this isn’t yet the case for fake furniture in the UK. And the reason for this is government inaction that is not only allowing a market for poorer quality replicas of iconic designs to exist, but to thrive. In April 2013 the UK government passed the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, a section of which closed a loophole in British intellectual property law. Under the new regulations, artistic designs for products such as furniture would be protected for up to 70 years after the designer’s death. Before the Act was passed, if more than 50 copies of a design were made, it was considered to be mass produced and was subject to only 25 years’ protection.

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The safety regulations to consider when designing a new workspace

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CaptureThere’s no doubt about it, designing and managing a new workspace is a challenge at the best of times. With so many different aspects to consider, designers must create a space that is both aesthetically pleasing to work in, while ensuring that the safety of the people working in the building, and the public exposed to the redesign work, is being prioritised. Designing and managing a building project is a lengthy process that requires meticulous planning to make sure you are fully equipped. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is frequently assessing the safety credentials of refurbishment projects and has demonstrated in the past that it is not afraid to dish out hefty fines to companies that fail to abide by the UK’s health and safety laws. Avoid any unwanted surprises by doing your homework, completing a risk assessment and creating a strategy of how you will complete the project in a safe, efficient manner.

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The business case for green building widens to cover wellness and productivity

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office designThe debate about the economic, commercial and social benefits of green building design continues to evolve rapidly. Where once it was primarily focussed on environmental issues and related cost savings, the world’s major champions of eco-building are now making the case for sophisticated building design that has a broader range of benefits for organisations and individuals. The most significant report in this regard for some years has just been published by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC). Its study Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building offers “overwhelming evidence” for the ways in which office design significantly impacts the health, happiness, wellbeing and productivity of people.The report covers a wide range of that influence the wellness, job satisfaction and performance of office workers. It identifies the ways in which these undoubted benefits add a new layer of sophistication to the case for organisations to invest in better, healthier and greener buildings.

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The death of the office desk may have been exaggerated

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The death of the desk may have been exaggerated Twenty years ago the typical office was a busy place, with printers running, big, bulky computers taking up desk space, post it notes, notepads, scanners and fax machines whirring in the background. In today’s workplace, desks are barren in comparison to the offices of a generation ago, purely because there is little need for so much stuff. With the introduction of modern digital devices it is no surprise that the concept of the ‘work station’ as we once knew has changed. The truth is, almost everything we use in the office nowadays is readily available online, with even websites being created for the specific purpose of serving as online meeting rooms. This means the concept of a physical office, where colleagues go to collaborate, share opinions and exchange meeting notes, is no longer a completely valid concept. With this in mind, are desks really needed to create a solid working environment anymore? More →

Orgatec preview: the next generation workplace is all about settings

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There is a well travelled international circuit for those interested in what office design tells us about the way we work that has, for a number of years, taken in London, Milan, Chicago, Stockholm and Cologne as its main stopping off points. This week sees the launch of Orgatec, the longstanding biennial workplace festival in Cologne. One of the interesting features of Orgatec is that, because it takes place every two years, it offers snapshots of key developments in the market. It throws a spotlight on whatever workplace professionals are talking about and whatever product designers are doing in response to the changing world of work. And it does it on a big scale. This year over 600 companies from 40 countries will be presenting across an exhibition area of 105,000 sq. m. This seems big, and is, but is down markedly on the size of the show from 20 years ago when Orgatec was the launch pad for seminal products such as Herman Miller’s Aeron Chair and the Ad Hoc  furniture system from Vitra.

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If you want to reduce the cost of your office, move to a creative area

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If you want to reduce the cost of your office, move to a creative area

Clerkenwell Design Week

“First we shape our buildings, thereafter our buildings shape us.” Winston Churchill, House of Commons opening speech. Buildings do indeed shape us, but what seems to affect us even more is the neighbourhood. It’s the immediate environment as opposed to buildings that is much harder to create. It needs numerous factors to influence it, among them the two most precious components– the right people and enough time. Politicians all over the world dream of creating zones that will draw the most innovative companies. But it seems that most of them grow organically – the Silicon Valley in California, the Silicon Alley in New York and the Silicon Roundabout in London. The combination of low rents, proximity to the centre of a dynamic metropolis and interesting culture made the East London neighbourhood of Shoreditch, Clerkenwell and Aldgate a perfect magnet for some of the world’s most exciting companies. So should you think about relocating there too? Here are some things to consider. More →

Ballpools, swings and slides don’t make office design cool, they make it childish

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Ceci n'est pas un bureau“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.” I don’t believe this famous quote from the poet Robert Frost  is particularly true but it appears to be an assumption that certain people make when it comes to creating those lists of office design that they describe as fun, trendy, cool or quirky or some other inappropriate, tired adjective. Invariably these offices feature such decidedly uncool and untrendy things as slides, swings and treehouses. One of the latest examples of this kind of thing is to be found on the BBC website with a number of pictures submitted by the sorts of adults who are not ashamed to claim that their idea of fun at work is apparently a meeting in a ballpool or on a swing. Of course, they don’t really think that, except in a work context. I’d bet they can easily walk past the ballpool at Ikea without feeling the need to dive in as an alternative to picking out a sofa.

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The solution to complex issues like green building is to become more sophisticated

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office designOne of the current preoccupations of the World Green Building Council is to demonstrate how green business is good business. The way it is presenting this argument is intriguing because as well as extolling the most anticipated benefits of green building design, such as lower energy bills, it is linking green building design with human factors such as productivity, wellness and  work-life balance. It has produced a number of reports on this subject, most recently in September with a publication titled Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices which found ‘overwhelming evidence’ of the link between office design and productivity.  What such compelling reports also highlight are the complex challenges we face and the sophisticated approach we must take to environmental issues and corporate social responsibility. Fortunately this is already exhibited by many organisations.

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Americans would still prefer a male boss to a female boss

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Amercians would prefer male boss to female bossThe news that Facebook and Apple are to offer US-based female employees the option of freezing their eggs for future use, in an effort to attract more women on to their staff, has raised quite a debate on both sides of the Atlantic on whether women are being actively discouraged to put off having children. Now a new poll suggests that far from entering a brave new world, attitudes towards women in charge haven’t moved on a great deal. There is still a disappointingly high level of negativity towards female bosses, with US Americans more likely to say they would prefer a male boss (33%) to a female boss (20%) in a new job, according to a Gallup poll. And in an age when women are told to “lean in” to get positions of power at work, even women are more likely to prefer a male boss to a female boss. Although 46 per cent say it doesn’t make a difference to them, the percentage of women who would prefer a female boss has never surpassed 30 per cent since Gallup’s annual work and education poll, was launched back in 1953. More →

Two-fifths of global employees would choose flexible working over a payrise

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flexible workingA friend of mine went for a job recently and asked about flexible working. They were informed that: “we don’t like to allow people to work from home as we can’t keep our eye on them.” This attitude is a disincentive to job applicants and existing staff, and makes employers who take this attitude look at best old-fashioned and at worse foolish. Even the UK’s pro-employer government extended the right to request flexible working to anyone with over 26 weeks service this June, which illustrated how ‘mainstream’ flexi-work has become. A new piece of research reveals there is currently something of a global shift in culture towards a ‘Flex Work Imperative’, described as a perfect storm of employee demand, improving job market, and legislation that is shifting flex work from job perk to an employee’s right. It’s why 43 per cent of employees surveyed said they would prefer flex work over a pay raise. More →

A feeling of togetherness is essential and motivating, so why would we kill off the office?

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It is still depressingly commonplace to read proclamations of the death of the office. These are usually appended to some survey or other about the rise of flexible working or a case study of a workplace devoid of desks (or, more likely, one in which none are pictured). Of course, the actual conclusion we can draw from such things is that the office as we once knew it is now dead or mutating into something else, but that’s true for every aspect of modern life. The constant factor that ensures offices will always exist, in some form or other is the human they serve. We know that because, as Tom Allen proved at MIT in the 1980s, people communicate less well the greater the physical distance between them. Now new research from Stanford University shows how the very idea of ‘togetherness’ can have a significant impact on the way people perform. The study, by researchers Priyanka Carr and Gregory Walton was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and concluded that ‘social cues that signal an invitation to work with others can fuel intrinsic motivation’.

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We’ve long had ‘overwhelming evidence’ for the link between office design and productivity

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office designPerhaps the most widely reported news from the world of workplace over the last couple of weeks has been the analysis from the World Green Building Council that links office design with productivity and wellness. And the two words from the report that have featured most commonly in the associated stories’ headlines have been ‘overwhelming evidence’. While this has been repeated as if it’s some kind of revelation, the truth is that we have had compelling and overwhelming evidence for many years, and barely a year goes past without some study or other making the same point in no uncertain terms. Each report merely serves to raise a more interesting question; given the sheer body of work linking the workplace with productivity (and happiness and motivation and so on), why does the argument still need to be made?

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