Credo: Wayne Hemingway
Sunday 20 January 2008
Sustainability is about more than carbon footprints. My work as a designer and chairman of Building for Life is about creating places where people will want to put down roots and be happy.
We've overlooked the importance of housing for too long. Almost a third of developments built in the past five years are so badly designed that they should never have received planning permission.
I was lucky to grow up in a working-class Northern community. We took for granted that we had access to a garden, a recreation space, an allotment... all the things that make life easy.
It is harder for young people to be entrepreneurial these days. When my wife and I started our fashion business in 1980 you could rent space in Camden Market for £6 a week. Opportunities like that don't exist these days, which is why I also work with charities such as the Prince's Trust.
Fashion becomes less important as you get older. Style stays important but that doesn't mean that you keep designing new things – you make do with what you've got.
I am a great admirer of Anita Roddick. She always said "just do something". That's what keeps me going.
You have to work at relationships. My wife and I have been together for 27 years. It's not easy – we had four kids and set up our own business when we were still young, but that responsibility keeps you together.
I have the biggest collection of British popular culture in the world. I own a 50 per cent share in a museum called Land of Lost Content. It's a map of mass-market culture in this country through the past century. Some designers collect Warhol, I collect prints from Freemans catalogues.
The concept of buying designer didn't exist for most people when I grew up. It's great that anyone can now go to Topshop and buy well-designed clothes. Good design makes people feel better. *
Building for Life, an initiative of CABE, the Government's urban design watchdog, works to create a national benchmark for well-designed housing (www.buildingforlife.org)
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