Get Real - equal rights for design

So, what’s the big fuss about fakes again?

By Michelle Ogundehin, editor Elle Decoration UK

Everything you wanted to know about our Equal Rights for Design campaign, based on the queries I’ve found myself repeatedly answering…

It’s all very well, but I’m not a designer, what’s this got to do with me? There are estimated to be 250,000 designers in this country, so even if you’re not one, you’ll probably know someone who is. The Elle campaign is about people, not profit. These are the people who make your life easier, more efficient, comfortable and beautiful. Designers need to make a living, they live off their contribution to society which needs to be honoured, just the same way everyone is expected to get paid for their work. The creative industries are a major part of the UK’s economy, contributing 5.14% of the UK’s employment total, 10.6% of exports and 2.9% of Gross Value Added. If designers continue to receive current pathetic protection, why would anyone bother to become one? And that’s a lot of jobs and money to lose from the economy. Granted, most creatives work for love and passion, but fair recognition should also be part of the deal.


I suppose, but at the end of the day, aren’t ideas just ‘out there’, I mean doesn’t everyone have a right to profit from them? Good design and great ideas benefit us all for sure, but how would you feel if you devoted your life to inventing something that changed our everyday living quality, or even just made things a little prettier, but no-one gave you any credit for it? Let alone paid you? Would you think that’s fair? Isn’t it better all round to acknowledge who thought of what first, who collaborated with whom, and credit them accordingly? Plus, in response to the ‘but I could have done that’ knee-jerk response… the only answer is, maybe, but you didn’t, did you. From Picasso’s Guernica to Lee Broom’s ‘Decanter’ light (massively ripped off), they did it first, not you.



I’m listening, so what’s the petition all about then? The ELLE Decoration Equal Rights for Design petition is to prompt the government to look into the disparity between the protection afforded to intellectual property concerning design, and that of other creative disciplines.

Whoa, going too fast already, what do you mean by intellectual property? Intellectual property simply means that the owners of ideas are granted certain exclusive rights to protect those ideas. The tricky bit is that such ‘ideas’ are often intangible, unlike bricks and mortar. Nevertheless, musical tunes, literature, even words, phrases and symbols are already commonly recognised as intellectual property, and routinely protected via extensive copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and even trade secrets in some cases.



Ok, well that sounds pretty comprehensive, so what’s the gripe for design? In the UK, art, literature, film and music are afforded automatic copyright protection for 70 years after the death of the originating author/s. Whereas for design, registered designs are protected only from the date of issue and for just 25 years. And worse, if your work is unregistered (costs sometimes prohibit the registration of every permutation of a design, especially for young designers), protection lasts for only three years!

This needs to change! We want same rights and protection for designers as the rest of the creative industry are getting.



We need Your signature, please go to the Elle petition! This is for the designer, but also for you and me, so we all enjoy a more beautiful everyday life also in the future.