Well here we are then. One year on. I remember the last time I went on the tube – to interview Orla Kiely for the podcast. I remember shutting the front door and opening it weeks later to find all the plants in the tubs in the front garden had died. And I remember the early days of playing Monopoly with our teenage sons and cooking meals together. And then it starts to blur round the edges.
And today, after a year of producing more content in one year than ever before, I find myself with little left to say. I feel rather like the bunny whose batteries have run out mid tune and while, as the mother of teenagers, I have been spared the trials of homeschooling, I think we have all, regardless of personal circumstances had to deal with things we weren’t expecting to come across over the last 12 months.
In so many ways I have found the blog a solace; a connection with so many people and a community that has proved invaluable and I hope you have enjoyed dropping in for a cup of coffee and a virtual chat as much as I have been pleased to see you. So thank you all for that.
If you go back over the archives – the button on the side, you will find pieces on how to work from home, how to create a multi-tasking space, why the table is the true heart of the home no matter what room it’s in and pieces on shopping for vintage furniture and sustainability.
And in the light of all that there is to read already, I hope you will also allow me a small recap today. When lockdown first began, I wrote the Planner which was published last week (Waterstones link here). It completes the Mad About The House series but I am planning another book that will, I think be as ground-breaking in its way as writing an interiors book with no photographs has proved to be.
In May, following the murder of George Floyd, Rukmini Patel and I launched Design for Diversity and, I’m thrilled to say that after around 150 sign ups, including Heals, Farrow & Ball, Topps Tiles and the Walker Greenbank Group, which includes Sanderson, Zoffany and Morris & Co, the first event is taking place this week.
We were approached by the Mayor’s Fund for London, an organisation that works to improve social mobility in the capital, to ask if we would work with them on an event to promote diversity within the interiors industry. Some of you will remember that Sophie and I did a podcast devoted to this last May.
Through the organisation and its Access Aspiration scheme, which works with thousands of students across London, of which 75 per cent are from Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority backgrounds, a webinar aimed at promoting diversity within the interiors industry has been arranged covering all aspects of the industry and how to get a foot in the door. Rukmini will be speaking alongside product designer Eva Sonaike and interior designer Gemma Samuels and I hope it’s the start of many such events. The Fund does a huge amount of work in this field and if you want to partner on any of their initiatives do get in touch with Louise Richmond.
While I’m on the subject, I should add that Rukmini and I have also been speaking to Heals, which is running a series of Design and Inclusivity engagement sessions with all staff which has now expanded into a conversation about mental health following feedback.
In a statement the company said: “Since Heals took the pledge, the company has been working hard to make significant changes within the business. We’re engaging with every member of staff to ensure their involvement and feedback and activities include:
“A company statement highlighting our position on equality, diversity and inclusion that acknowledges that we have more to do and our commitment to getting it right. This has been well received. We have:
“Engaged every (their italics) colleague on the three pledges and how they can practically play out within the business: working with a D&I specialist to design engaging workshops for the teams.
“Delivered 15 departmental sessions: In conversation with Heals Equality, Diversity and Inclusion engagement sessions with the aim of starting a conversation, creating an open and inclusive culture, reflecting on our privilege (we have all taken a privilege ‘walk’ and learnt more about each other. These conversations have harnessed some incredible conversations and collaboration.
“Updated our policies based on colleagues’ feedback ensuring a more gender neutral policy, reviewing customer profile types to ensure they are more inclusive and issuing company protocol for any instances when retail and customer services colleagues are faced with discrimination or prejudicial language.”
We also had a long meeting with Farrow & Ball, who, as a global company, move more slowly but are committed to working with, and expanding on, the pledge they have taken.
We are also indebted to the many small companies who took the pledge and are working to spread the word and offering internships, work experience and jobs to a more diverse range of candidates.
I will keep you updated and Sophie and I will be revisiting the subject on the podcast in May as the BIID (British Institute of Interior Design) has finally completed its report. Its findings into diversity within the industry weren’t that surprising so we await to see what steps they will be taking to address the, by now well-known, issues.
And Sanderson have also contributed to the Mayor’s Fund for London in an event which will be announced this week.
Finally, I launched my shopping platform Design Storey, an attempt to curate the internet to make it easier for you to find what you need without spending hours having to filter through hundreds of things you don’t want in order to find the one you do. You can read more about it here. You can subscribe to the weekly newsletter here. And below is some press it received and there is more here.
Thank you for all your support. I hope the blog has provided you with some escape this year as well as some inspiration. I will be back tomorrow with my monthly news round up of what is going on in the world of interiors from events to new releases and new products. I’ll see you there any time after 7am.