Politics: Beckett offers showcase of the UK powerhouse

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The Independent Online
"THE FACE of modern Britain is more than the Spice Girls, The Full Monty, or Soho at night," Margaret Beckett, the President of the Board of Trade, believes.

To prove it, the Department of Trade and Industry has commissioned a pounds 1m exhibition, called powerhouse:UK, to be a showcase for British design. "This exhibition reflects what is happening in multi-cultural Britain. Good design makes for good business," Mrs Beckett said.

"Our partners in Europe and Asia appreciate this as much as we do. We see powerhouse:UK as a unique opportunity to put the best of cutting edge British design on show to stimulate business across frontiers." Even if Britain doesn't always manufacture it.

Trade delegates and diplomats from Asia and Europe attending the ASEM 2 summit from 2-4 April will visit the exhibition to be held in four silver inflatable mini-domes in the heart of Whitehall at Horse Guards Parade.

Four steel framed drums,each of which hold 300-400 people, have been themed by two architects, Doug Branson and Nigel Coates, to reflect lifestyle, communications, learning and networking. After the summit the public can attend for a fortnight until 19 April.

The designer Alexander McQueen's ravishing ballgowns (made in France) rub shoulders with Tom Dixon's ingenious light that doubles as a footstool made (in Britain) from traffic bollards. Oasis (half of whose profits go to Creation Records in Japan) will play as visitors interact with computer games, and audio-visuals.

The four pavilions are a miniaturised version of Branson Coates' National Centre for Pop Music in Sheffield which opens in August.