Politics from the Rooftops!

It seems even those who work in politically connected jobs – certainly those connected to interior design, creative industries, built environment and consumer protection – where I am active and always have been – are as sick of politics now as the nation is… No, as Europe is generally.

What on Earth is going on? While individuals bicker, nations suffer!

We had a referendum which resulted in the Prime Minister (David Cameron) and the Chancellor of Exchequer (George Osborne) walking out in an astonishing week of politics… please Sir,  give my ball back the children asked!

A short flurry of quickly positioned replacements gave us Teresa May, who spent her few years in the role she inherited as Prime Minister negotiating our exit from the EU – a little unfairly so, as it was with an exposed poker hand to Europe. I’m not sure she is or ever was the best negotiator because she is ‘pure’. She was a good border controller – it was a clear role and she was not by her own declaration a gossip or a person to mislead.

Negotiating with different nations and cultures in headlights with a home team trying to trip you up at every hurdle – regardless of it being media, cabinet, opposition or us – the people were always going to be a tough call for the most seasoned politician. I think it was an unenviable task for anyone to hold, giving it to a woman was perhaps regarded as correct at the time, but it was a dirty deal from the start.

With that said – where are we now? We have just a matter of weeks to assemble a new leader of a party in power, to negotiate the conditions of the most powerful ongoing business terms of this country – with their holidays on the horizon, the appointed mediator (speaker of the house) being somewhat political himself – and then, when we all return in September with our new leader in tow, expecting to get the Country and the SMEs of the UK in one of the largest money producing sectors of the British Economy; the creative economy (including tech) in just a couple of weeks…. I doubt without a tough and outspoken leader it will be achieved. We need less politics now and more business negotiations.

Unless something gives – leadership cannot commence. I say this as a huge supporter of politics and the EU; in fact for twenty years now, my own business email address contains the wording ‘europe’ in it. Now we are left in the worst state of business chaos which has ruined our industry’s lifeblood; investment. Clever investors know you buy cheap and sell on the rise in property and we are in yet another property bubble and it is all about to tank again. What will that mean to our business sector? Creativity will continue and so will tech, but retail, fashion, residential design, and office are sectors that will be pressured.

Interior design relates to investment in the design of the inside of a building or structure. We provide added-value when we talk design. We need a big picture when addressing client investment. Generally I see my role as one end or the other; the very expensive design-related criteria, luxury etc or budget, cost-saving, low investment and high volume turnover. Our sectors are hurting due to external pressures:

Vanessa Brady OBE talks Politics

Vanessa Brady with Sir Michael Dixon at 11 Downing Street anti bullying initiative


Retail Design – the internet has undercut retail prices because it generates lower theft, breakages, display space costs; lower rates and fixed costs to bring goods to market; less wages, lower unit rates per employee; it is open 24 hours versus eight plus, and it has created a super fast logistics system, making the chore of driving, parking and shopping on foot less attractive for multi-hour work shifts of shoppers to attend shops. The sector needs a revised value to ‘match’ the ‘price and convenience’ of internet shopping which has overshadowed the ‘touch, feel experience’.

Designers and business development directors… Step up the experience – v – time investment and you can add value to personal shopping.


Office Design – the need to travel to the office and interact within a team should not be undervalued but if you don’t interact at all, i.e. if you never pick up the phone, do not talk business or goals with your work colleagues, and do not lift your head away from a screen all day, you defeat the necessity to travel to a workplace office to begin with. You also miss out on human interaction which is a benefit human beings have over animals who don’t in general need such close interaction like humans do. Yes you will need servers, printers, software and meetings but location sharing will improve human interaction and without it, much is lost.

I hate emails that just say ‘ok’ – I can see you received and read it. They take time to draft, open and they don’t really achieve much; that could just be said when passing a desk in an office! We need to sell the value of an office with fellow workers versus independent work time that doesn’t require shared space or conversation. Clarifying office time achievement salary and percentage – v – achievement related payments worked away from the office is a great way to share the workload. It might be the future; split contract/split payment employment? then both boss and worker would be happier. We just don’t yet have that definition right and it’s damaging office environments.


Hospitality Design – a designers overruling remit will be to create a compliant space for the public to move around in safely, or a home, either way be it commercial or residential design it should enhance wellbeing. In laymen’s talk that means the ‘ou-ahhh’ feeling you get when you like an image, an interior space  – that maybe a bikers rubber and grease garage or a pretty pink fluffy beauty parlour – whatever it is, it is intended to attract the user, it must be safe and compliant and importantly, it must last. The main purpose for the investors to spend additional fees on design – over function and necessity – is to enhance business turnover – it is a subtle and frequently ignored point but to me… It is what I do.


Designers? People often say you spend money. No I don’t. I save money. I make money for my clients. Yes I am a designer but first, I am a businesswoman.

I am a businesswoman in design – not a designer in business.

My emphasis is how to help achieve the client’s goal and ultimately, it will always be business in some format or other… That brings me back to politics. Help our industry, our jobs, our investment and our good reputation. While egos are argued out in public for global entertainment – let us just do our job.

I always keep an audit trail in the hope it won’t be required but if it is – if I have to enforce punishment on bad behaviour and punish a client or peer I can. It has not happened, but there is always a first time! We must have the information, the evidence and the tools to show the opposing party the way forward.

Now… Let us get down to business with politics. Please!