Why design can change a community

Sir Terence Conran and Tara Bernerd are asking the public (and celebrity friends) to nominate community spaces in need of renovation for the mydeco YourSpace competition, reports Annie Deakin

Imagine if you will, a police station designed by Sir Terence Conran; the boys in blue chilling on Eames' lounge chairs, slurping coffee from a stainless steel Luca Trazzi espresso maker with doughnuts piled high on a chic Noguchi table. Keep daydreaming and picture a futuristic library with white lacquered desks and leather armchairs handpicked by Tara Bernerd.

Search for the perfect furniture with The Independent house and home database, powered by mydeco.

It's quite some stretch of the imagination, isn't it? That is because unloved libraries, knackered police stations and tired town halls, which emit depressing vibes, are all too common in Britain. 'If a space isn't working for all that use it, it is failing the community it serves,' says Conran. 'Design is about problem solving, identifying the issues and finding innovative solutions on a given budget.' The doyen of British design has partnered with Bernerd, Head of Design at Target Living and mydeco.com to launch the competition YourSpace inviting the public (and celebrity friends) to nominate rooms in their community that need a revamp.

'Intelligent design has a tremendously positive effect on all of our lives,' says Conran. More than ever in these challenging times, community spaces should promote creativity, keep local residents optimistic and help students stay focused. Decorators and architects have long intuited that our surroundings affect our thoughts, energy levels and temperament. Competition entries are as varied as Snitterfield Village Hall and Grimsby's Dock Tower. Conran and Bernerd will breathe new life into whichever community room is deemed most deserving of a revamp.

Celebrities have entered YourSpace keen to raise the profile of design in the community. Kent-based comedian Vic Reeves, who sells art through Eyestorm, describes the local Charing school as 'very good but it's a disgrace. It's very shabby and desperately in need of some attention.' Notting Hill resident designer Lulu Guinness nominated the Army Salvation Hall. Priscilla Carluccio, founder of interior shop Few and Far, wants South Kensington tube station to be revamped while Kelly Hoppen is fed up with the dilapidated waiting room at her dentist.

Meanwhile, 77-year-old Conran says, 'I have got a real desire to re-do police stations, not that I spend much time in them - but the police do. If the place that they lived was optimistic, rather than deeply depressing, they might come onto the streets with a smile on their faces. It might cheer the police up.' Partner-in-design-crime Bernerd shares his vision, 'I have to admit I fell in love with Terence's suggestion of a police station. Although I don't go there often, I always feel guilty when I walk in there but I'm not sure they'd go with my colouring…' It's an astute point; I can't imagine the chief constable 'getting' the pink stripes in her hair.

More Bernerd's style would be to tackle a rundown public library; 'They're often poorly lit, badly laid-out, and understaffed for lack of admin, poor computer terminals added as an afterthought. Now, imagine the library in the next Bond movie. Think bright white, lacquered book shelving, with colours that clearly categorise subjects. The latest technology, dimmer areas with big leather armchairs, terrific long tables set up for lap tops and high backed stools. Get me a library card!'

Be it Conran's modish police station or Bernerd's super-slick library, the intention is obvious; community spaces should represent the optimism of today, not the gloomy past. Conran reminded me of the Festival Hall which is the only building left over from the Festival of Britain. 'They went through a terrible stage of dreariness and it got grubby and down-at-heal. Now it's been re-done with a new team of people running it and it's absolutely uplifting.'

Without our realizing it, interior design has a profound effect on our mood. 'I know that people who live in a good, thoughtfully designed environment have a happier life,' asserts Conran. 'Why should policeman and policewomen have such a dreary life?' The fashion police have competition; introducing Conran the design police.

Enter the YourSpace competition http://mydeco.com/competitions/yourspace/

Annie Deakin is Editor of mydeco.com

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
voicesBy the man who has
people... and stop them from attacking people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?