Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
Posted: April 26th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Press coverage, Product reviews | Comments Off
Nice review here for our mugs from Playpennies.com
It shouldn’t take you too long to realise that The Future Perfect Company isn’t a company who aim their products at kids.
I can’t even remember how I came across The Future Perfect Company but I saw these double-handled ceramic mugs on their site and thought they’d be great for kids too.
All three of my children started off with the obligatory plastic double-handled Tommee Tippee cup; at some point they wanted to move away from plastic, be like everyone else and drink from proper mugs or glasses instead.
That was all very well and good but glasses don’t come with handles and have a big circumference for little hands to try and grasp and ceramic mugs are heavy, combine that with a handle on one side only and they become somewhat lop-sided.
So even though these double-handled mugs are intended for people at the other end of the age range scale, I think they’re great for kids who want to be like the grown ups and ditch their plastic fantastic drinking cups.
They start from £14 each, but if you follow the link above you’ll be able to pick up two for £20.
Posted: April 19th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | Comments Off
A brief hiatus in the feverish quest for votes was provided four days ago by the arrival of my granddaughter, Imogen. Her older brother Archie, four, has been calling her Tilly-Lily ever since he was informed that she was in the pipe-line, but no-one seems to know why. Even more mysterious is his decision at the weekend to stop calling me grandad and instead to address me as Smelly Bottom. Anyway, I made the 600 mile round trip to view the new child, as you do. Mercifully, she slept throughout my entire visit.
Back to the election. Easily the most contentious issue on the doorsteps is the widely hated sale of the Wentworth Street car park, allegedly for a cool five million, with plans to build on the site a large superstore, widely believed to be a Sainsbury’s. I hear that another candidate is putting it about that I am in favour of this; a currently serving councillor, who voted in favour, is known to be one of my friends and from this, I suppose, a faulty deduction has been made by someone who can have little insight into the nature of friendship.
There are two issues here: the sale of the car park, and the introduction of a superstore. I am opposed to both. I am uneasy, to put it mildly, to see the Council trouser five million; once they get their unreliable fingers on this sort of booty it would tempt them away from their determination to find the economies and efficiencies required of them in these difficult times. Further, it is likely that the population of the town will increase significantly in the coming decade or so, which will increase the demand for car parking spaces; the loss of Wentworth Street would mean that there would be no all-day parking in Malton. Except, of course, the hundred or so spots at the Council offices; these are free, but sadly available only to Council officers and employees. Other workers in the town will have to follow the Council’s pious exhortations to cycle (in the interests averting global warming and combating obesity, of course); it would be gratifying to see the Council providing leadership here.
As to the superstore idea – frankly it’s a mess. Until recently we had two: a Morrison’s and a Netto. In the past year the Council has given permission to Morrison’s to almost double in size, and planning consent to the building of two further low-ticket stores. If the ”Sainsbury’s” goes ahead we shall have five supermarkets, serving a total population of less than fifteen thousand. The incoherent dishing out of planning permission to supermarket chains, taking no evident account of the impact of mounting fleets of heavy goods vehicles supplying their outlets, strains credulity.
The beneficial effects claimed for the arrival of a superstore are based on comparisons with three other towns that seem to me to bear little weight – Wetherby, Beverley and Northallerton. These are prosperous towns that were targeted by retail giants precisely because of their prosperity. Beverley, it is said, is where Hull keeps its money; Wetherby is in the so-called Golden Triangle where property is as expensive as it gets in the North, and Northallerton is where large numbers of high-end employers are located. These advantages did not follow superstores, rather the other way round. Malton is an agricultural centre with relatively low wage opportunities. The comparisons are bogus. A supermarket to compete with Morrison’s will be needed, and it will come, but not yet. I suspect that if a valuable and saleable public asset did not exist in the town the Council would not be running around looking for some way to find a site to build a superstore. This is about the five million. Local people have not forgotten the attempt to sell the police station years ago releasing valuable land for a developer who would build a new nick – on Wentworth Street car park!
Anyway, none of this is of interest to Tilly-Lily whose only concerns are food, sleep and how soon will Smelly Bottom show up again with another nifty outfit for a nifty little girl.
Posted: April 19th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - Collyer's | No Comments »
Tesco’s new Chief Executive Phil Clarke is quoted today as saying that the world’s third-biggest retailer needs to come up with new products and services and improve general merchandise ranges after falling short of its own expectations in a tough British market. At the same time, it is being reported that art and design is at risk of disappearing from timetables in many state schools as the national curriculum is slimmed down to focus on “core” academic subjects.
Rather than charging our schools and colleges to produce the next generation of product designers, education in the arts is in danger of being restricted to children at high-performing schools or with parents who can afford private lessons or clubs.
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary seems to think arts and design education is a “nice to have” rather than an essential like English and Maths. But the creative industries are, according to the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCM&S), “an important growth area in rebalancing the economy… Creative employment provides around two million jobs, in the creative sector itself and in creative roles in other sectors. Employment in the sector has grown at double the rate of the economy as a whole”.
Moreover as funding is redirected towards science and technology, it must not be forgotten that design plays an essential role in the realisation of many technological advances and scientific breakthroughs. When presenting our Designing for the Future Competition awards Kate Sharp, Faculty leader at Collyers Sixth Form College explained this relationship as follows : “James Dyson famously said “The teaching of quality design and technology is a vital requirement for the country’s future in the 21st century” …… “There is no division between the designers and the engineers. I couldn’t agree more. Without Design and Technology in the national curriculum and its progression to Product Design at A level our students experience at school and college would be a lot less enriching. As a subject Product Design is the perfect bridge between science and creative, innovative, design. It is applied science in the design and development of the products that we need to live our everyday lives. It’s no good just understanding how things work if you can’t then use that knowledge to innovate and create”.
A good example of this relationship (or lack thereof) can be found in assistive products. Gretel Jones, consumer policy advisor from Age UK, frequently makes the point that whilst there are many devices available to help older people live independent lives, some of these are so ugly or stigmatizing that people just refuse to use them. This is why we need good, attractive design.
On its website the DCMS promises to “continue to work closely with other Government departments and agencies to make sure that there is an appropriate level of support available for the creative industries”. Does that include the Education department, I wonder. I hope so.
Image : The boiling mug by James Delve, Designing for the Future Competition
Posted: April 13th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | No Comments »
The action is stepping up a little. The past week or so I have delivering leaflets to some of the two thousand dwellings on my patch – done about half. It must be getting on for fifty years since I worked as a student relief postman at Christmas, which I did for many years, but I have not forgotten how beastly some letter boxes can be. Some that function like gamekeepers’ traps to snare unwary fingers, others set at ground level to torment the lower back, and those too small to admit anything larger than a teabag. These days there are new refinements to challenge the equanimity of the postie: slots that have set inside rows of stiff bristles that defy all but the most rigid items, and a significant percentage screwed firmly shut.
Also new since the sixties are all the stern notices people stick onto their letter boxes: No Free Papers or Junk Mail! Think Rubbish!; Doorstop Sellers Beware! You are Not Welcome Here!; Do Not Knock Unless You Have an Appointment! Do Not Incur Our Wrath by Knocking! I have obeyed all these strict warnings, especially the one’s about junk mail - I know junk mail when I have a fistful of it, and my leaflets do, after all, bear my name and address.
On the whole the people I ran into were friendly and interested, or friendly and uninterested, and I encountered no hostility – I even occasionally saw my own poster displayed in windows, a slightly disconcerting experience seeing one’s photograph popping up. This is how Kate Middleton must feel when she pops into the newsagents and glances at the magazine rack. Like Kate, I am trying not to let it turn my head.
The assault on my posters in the shops continues. I have my suspicions of course, but I cannot prove who is behind it because people are afraid to name names. One clue, perhaps, lies in the words of one shopkeeper: “menacing pressure is being brought to bear by a sinister figure from the dark side”. I knew that politics is a grubby business, but that it is also furtive has taken me by surprise. It has been said that attacking Nick Clegg is like clubbing seal pups, and I feel like a seal pup.
What about the issues? There are many that face the town (few seem to be interested in issues facing the District), but invariably the first one, sometimes the only one that has been raised with me is The Wentworth Street Car Park. More about this when I recover my strength after all the pavement bashing, and the liniment has worked its magic on my skinny legs.
Many memories have flooded back from my years as a Christmas relief postman, but one puzzles me; I distinctly recall trudging through deep snow as I made my rounds, but I have no recollection otherwise of a white Christmas. I also remember that there were many invitations to “come in for a cuppa, dear” from clearly bored housewives, but not this time round – but that was in Hull, particularly in Aberdeen Street, and I was younger then and had sturdier legs.
Posted: April 11th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Inclusive design | Comments Off
As we all know, many products aimed at older people or people with disabilities are ugly or clinical rather than attractive or trendy. But there is a growing demand for independent living solutions that deliver on appearance as well as function. We at The Future Perfect Company are part of a growing movement who know that consumers believe that eye pleasing design and function are equally important. And this year at the Naidex National Healthcare Show (5-7th April, Birmingham NEC) a new Award was launched to find the most aesthetically pleasing products on offer.
The judges were television presenter and wheelchair basketball player Ade Adepitan, independent occupational therapist Nikki Chapman and co-founder of Enabled by Design, Denise Stephens (who also judged our Designing for the Future Competition). All three are passionate about finding well-designed assistive equipment and believe that great style is always achievable no matter what your disability.
Event Director Liz Virgo commented, “We feel that the Naidex Style Awards will show all visitors that it is possible to find stylish solutions for independent living, something that is becoming increasingly important. People are not only looking for products that function well and make life easier, but also products that look good, be that items of clothing, home equipment or mobility aids”.
The winners were an inclusive shower range by Plexicare and in second place none other than the fabulous Trabasack. “Designed by a busy mum and ‘design for all’ enthusiast Clare Edwards, Trabasack appeals to people of all ages and abilities and really stands out for stylish usability” said director Duncan Edwards. Traditional, lap trays and lap desks are not usually known for their fashionable appeal, however, the beanbag tray or table with a pillow under it has been replaced by a new cool innovation: the Trabasack or lap tray bag. ”"We shall be proudly displaying this award.” said Duncan. “Our designs are functional and attractive and used by a growing range of customers. As well as helping people who are wheelchair users, our biggest sales are to people using them for laptop bags, crafts and art and children using them in buggies and car seats. We also have a growing following of students and musicians since internet sensation Brett Domino began using Trabasacks in his videos. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTwweLJ78KE”
Placed third in the Style Awards was a fashionable clothes protector called the Bibette which is more beautiful pashmina than traditional bib.
The Style Awards are fantastic news not just for the winners but for all us consumers. It is about time the industry recognised that older and disabled people want products which are beautifully designed as well as functional. Well done, Naidex!
Just one small gripe. Where’s the PR? Having heard the awards had been announced I could not find any information about the winners on the Naidex website and there seems to be very little in way of press releases – at least so far. This is really good news and we should all be shouting about it!
Posted: April 5th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | No Comments »
Last week I spent a day going round the retail businesses in the town asking people to display my splendid election poster. I started at places where I am known as a regular customer, with excellent results. The cold-calling was more mixed, with about half I think agreeing to help, and those who refused did so because they did not want to be seen as politically partial. My resemblance – fancied resemblance in my view, but clearly a widely shared delusion - to Alf Garnett is a definite asset.
So my face is to be seen at vital locations, such as barbers, newsagents and so on. No sign yet of my opponents, who are a little slow off the mark; exhausted perhaps after four years of office. Maybe they are wiser than me, letting me run the risk of peaking early then nipping smartly ahead at the finish. But I have an ace in the hole – a new grand-daughter due on 11th April, just the right moment to update my website.
The bad news is that some of my posters are being torn down. One retailer appears to have received “a phone call”, following which he removed the two posters he had placed earlier. But on the other hand, a couple of others, on hearing about this, removed theirs from internal display to more prominent window locations. Perhaps I am doing something right. Reminds me of a colleague during my teaching days who, when he was standing for some public office or other, complained to me that he had “had increment pushed through (his) letter box”. Obviously he meant something other, but it did reveal, that little Freudian slip, the preoccupation of teachers with their pay.
Easily the most exciting development has been the alteration of my election posters that appear in the window of Linton’s Pet Shop in the market place. Done in the spirit of April Fool’s Day by the ladies in the shop, by doctoring two of my posters they implied that Alf Garnett, Sean Connery and I might be triplets separated at birth. It caused a sensation in the Market Place, attracting much interest in the pet shop and in me. I expect that Alf and Sean (as they insist I call them) will get a few write-in votes on May 5th. As you will see from the photo – we could be sisters.
Posted: April 5th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Offers and competitions | Comments Off
To celebrate Easter (and dare we say, the forthcoming Royal nuptials), we are offering free delivery on all internet orders until 2 May.
We have lots of other offers to choose from too including up to 50% off our Green People organic skincare range. We have gorgeous Typhoon shopping trolleys starting at £35 and Family Tree files reduced to £17.99.
Posted: April 5th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Inclusive design | Comments Off
Last week I went to the University of Brighton to catch up with the students entering our “Designing for the Future” competition. This is the second year we have run this competition which encourages young designers to design a new product which addresses one or more of the challenges associated with ageing and people living longer.
Joining me on the “Dragons Den” panel was Principal Lecturer Nick Gant, Senior Lecturer/furniture designer Gareth Neal and Gretel Jones from Age UK.
The stereotyping of the demographic profile of “older people” has often switched off the designer response to this subject and resulted in the production of dreary and institutionalised products. However, current technological, scientific, economic and design research demonstrate that this is both a misunderstood market and a route into some of the most provocative, relevant and future-gazing challenges, themes and subjects which face modern society.
I am pleased to report that the Brighton students are fully switched on to this design area and are working on a diverse range of projects looking at issues such as inheritance, memory, death and memorial as well as seeking to resolve problems arising out of loneliness, restricted mobility and keeping warm.
It was good to see that so many of them had taken time to speak to older people about their lives – it is always something of a stretch for students in their early 20s to imagine the challenges of being older.
We are back next month to judge the final entries.
Image: Hearing aid design by Ashley Temudo, Designing for the Future Competition 2010