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An update to my open letter to the CEO of H&M

Since posting my open letter to the CEO of H&M on Monday evening I have been completely overwhelmed by the reception its received and the support that I have been shown. I have also been shocked to be told over and over again at how common an occurrence this is.

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Earlier today I received this email from Camilla Henriksson, the Head of Marketing and Communications at H&M Home.

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I am really happy to have heard from them. It was the response I was hoping for and more. I think I’ll leave it to  my reply describes best how I feel, 

“Dear Camilla,

Thank you for your reply and for going some way to answering the question in my letter. I can see that you recognised that it wasn’t written or sent lightly and that you have reacted accordingly in your apology and product recall. I can appreciate that this is a big undertaking and for this, I thank you.

I too use the world as inspiration when working on new ideas and I find this to be one of the greatest joys of doing what I get to do. And I also work hard on avoiding treading on anyone’s toes, I think we can both agree, it is a fine line to walk at times and a very well recognised and well-worn one too!

Issuing this letter openly has been an overwhelming experience, the show of support I have received has been extraordinary. But the number of similar stories shared by other small designers seeing their ideas seemingly stolen out from under them and feeling utterly hopeless and helpless to do anything and sadly fearful of the repercussions if they did, was totally unexpected.

It took me a lot of courage to do and I am glad my letter has shone a light on this.

To me the design world is a place where I can feel like we can all work together to try to make things better (in an aesthetic sense) and I hope moving forward we all can and look out for each other with this in mind as we do.

Yours sincerely,

Bridie Hall”

H & Ouch!

An open letter to the CEO of H&M                                                           

Dear Karl-Johan Persson,

It is deeply upsetting to learn that H&M have produced and are selling as its own, a product copied directly from my range of Alphabet Brush Pots.

 

HandOuch

 

I designed these in 2014 and have been making them in London with a small, skilled and dedicated staff since 2015. They have been very popular and sell into a number of the most prestigious interior, design and department stores in London and around the world. Something I have worked immensely hard on and am very proud of.

To see H&M producing a poorly watered-down version to pass of as its own design in the form of a candle votive (votive made in China, candle poured in Vietnam), is not only disappointing from the perspective of witnessing an enormous multi-national company yet again stealing a design from a tiny independent designer and profiting from it.  But it’s method of production also flies in the face of everything I work hard to promote and practice – locally assembled, handmade, sustainable, high quality.

It puts under threat the relationships I have built between my company and my stockists and compromises my reputation with my customers, who will recognise this design as mine and think that I had a part to play in its compromised design and method of mass production. 

As well as being (totally) unethical, by directly copying my design there is an obvious detrimental financial implication to my business as customers and the wider public will be purchasing your copy of my design instead of my original product. (Your company has completely diluted my product’s exclusivity.) The damaging effect upon our own sales may be lasting and is a cause of great stress for a small business like ours.

I have visited the H&M website and read your values and guidelines manifesto ‘The H&M Way’ which is aimed towards your staff, customers, suppliers, shareholders and business partners. Throughout this the words – quality, respect, openness, ethically, straightforwardness, honesty and responsibly, are repeatedly used and that you ‘continually encourage our suppliers and other business partners to do the same.’

I want to ask you; do you not feel that these values and guidelines should not also be extended towards the wider design community and the treatment of their intellectual property?

Yours faithfully,

Bridie Hall

Curating Christie’s for Classic’s Week

Late last summer I was overjoyed to be asked to contribute to Christie’s Classics week, the biggest week in the Christie’s calendar, by curating my very own space in Antiquities. For weeks, I agonised over what i was going to do. Would it be a domestic setting? Would I create a Cabinet of Curiosities? Then I realised it had been staring me in the face all along. I made up a Rainbow Roman Emperor Intaglio wall, we painted the wall the most sublime ‘Orange Aurora’ colour from the Little Greene Paint Company and I chose the biggest fragments of Roman statues to display in front of it, to create my own little tribute to the British Museum.

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The Bath House, Stratford Upon Avon

Desperate for a break from city life I visited the Landmark Trust website for a daydream and ended up booking a weekend at The Bath House just outside of Stratford Upon Avon. Arriving via a off road track through a pitch black woodland on a dark and stormy Friday night, was the most welcoming accommodation I have ever had the good fortune to visit. Everything is comfortably at arms length in the most perfectly restored octagonal folly that sits a top its very own fresh water spring fed, roman style bathroom. Of course I had to take the icy, yet invigorating,  plunge very early morning, before running up endless stairs to fortify myself in the ready waiting hot bath. It was magic and I’ve tried to keep up ending my morning shower with a blast of the cold ever since, with mixed results if I’m honest. Do book a stay, you will not regret it. You can read more about it here

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A year in the life of my studio

Looking through my dreadfully organised photo archives, there are ever increasing numbers of pictures of projects or products happening in my studio to wade through. A lot passes through this tiny space. I thought it might be fun to share a fraction of a year in the life of the Roque Map of London. The most ambient of backdrops. 

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Wedgwood Wonderland

Every couple of years I take a trip up to Stoke-on-Trent to look in on pottery projects that are in the pipeline and always manage to fix a visit to the Wedgwood Museum. It’s a Disneyland for adults. I am struck every time that this collection was on the brink of going to auction a few years ago when the company was sold to a private equity firm.

Every display holds the most precious pieces of pottery that were once a part of the everyday. I’m always saddened to think that this kind of quality of craftsmanship is now deemed too labour intensive to viably produce and can’t help but think that this attitude in some way contributes to fanning the flames in no longer valuing domestic objects that are built to last a lifetime. Buy cheap, buy twice I say! Bring back quality pottery!

Speaking of quality, please excuse the quality of the pictures. I was so involved in properly gawking at everything, when it came to composition composure, there wasn’t any!

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Glenn Brown & Rembrandt at the BM

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Rosenberg Palace, Copenhagen

Visiting the Rosenberg Palace while in the middle of reading Rose Tremain’s “Silence and Music” had to be one of the most truly enchanting experiences in terms of bringing a book to life. In quiet corners I could picture her characters inhabiting the grandness. 

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The Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen.

For years I’d been yearning to visit the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen. I’ve always felt it’s pull, a calling almost, from a kindred spirit of another time. It exceeded all my greatest expectations and came away inspired and also mildly depressed I did not live in the Thorvaldsen Museum in Copenhagen. To tell the truth, I feel like that when I visit any good museum.

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La Specola in Firenze

I’ve fulfilled my lifelong dream to visit the world’s first Natural History Museum ‘La Specola’ in Florence. I’ve had a copy of the book Encyclopaedia Anatomica since I can remember and for whatever reason have pawed over the images of the anatomical wax models, and the rather racy silk pillows and silver fringed shrouds they are kept on. They did not disappoint. 

This was a few small rooms of the complete museum. First up was the geology section and the main body was room after room of taxidermy, few labels, an air of benign neglect and absolutely perfect. Everything just being what it is and dished out in the way it was as it opened in the 18th century. It must have been mind blowing. 

I lament the updating of museums to include ‘experiences’ and wish the air of quiet respect and revery were still the flavour of the day.

A panther made of Jasper with eyes of Citrine quartz circa 16th century with a 17th century silver base.
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