Letter: Plea for design

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I applaud the desire of Marco Goldschmied, the new president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, to convince us all of the importance of good design ("A fresh facade for British architecture", 22 March). I fear, however, that his words echo those of former presidents over the past decade.

The British public, more than their continental counterparts, are conservative to a degree in their taste for design and architecture. This is largely due to ignorance and the "I know what I like" syndrome. Until we start to teach good contemporary design in schools from an early age this will be an ongoing problem. When I was a member of the RIBA council over 20 years ago my main object was to achieve this goal.

It is no good for the Government to set up advisory bodies unless the public at large understands what good design is all about. I am constantly saddened by the young couple, he with his Lotus car and Gucci shoes, she with her Versace dress, who only want to live in a thatched half-timbered cottage with leaded windows and low beams to bang your head on (provided they have all the latest gadgets inside and a streamlined kitchen).