Flying the flag!

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We may currently be in a recession, but there is a great deal to celebrate at the moment. Tanya Weaver gets into the spirit of the Olympics and argues that every cloud has a silver (or rather gold) lining
I must admit, I’ve become somewhat addicted to ‘torch cam’. Live video footage on the London 2012 website that allows you to stalk the Olympic torch as it makes its way around Britain.

The 70 day relay began in Land’s End on 19th May and so far the torch has been on a balloon over the Eden Project, held aloft the Giant’s Causeway and been to the summit of Snowdon.

Soon it will be taken on zip wire off the Tyne Bridge, on a steamer across Lake Windermere and up a chair lift at the famous Needles in the Isle of Wight. Not to mention past Warwick Castle on 1st July, which is a five minute walk from my house. Yay!

I really love the torch. Since it was first unveiled last year I thought it was such an interesting and clever design. Of course, it has its haters and has been likened to a cheese grater or ridiculed for being too ‘bling’.

But I think it’s a great symbol for the Olympic Games not least because it’s a truly British product showcasing all the best talent, techniques and processes we have in this country.

Having interviewed the engineers involved in its development TECOSM, I discovered it was a very challenging design idea to turn into reality and I think I love it even more because I know all the work that has gone into its creation.

To carry on the theme of celebration, it looks as though Jaguar Land Rover has a lot to be pleased about at the moment. Sales are up and it also recently revealed that the revenues of financial year 2011-12 represented a growth of 36.9 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year. That is great news for a British brand (we’ll ignore the fact that it’s no longer owned by a British company).

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This growth is driven by the demand for its cars in emerging economies such as China and India, who seem to be taking a real shine to the Range Rover Evoque. They aren’t the only ones. I think it’s big and beautiful.

I’m really not a car geek and if I had to pick any car in the world to own I’d choose a Fiat 500 in pearl white but there is something about the Evoque that I love. And I love it all the more because I recently found out that a lady in my running club is a mechanical engineer at Land Rover working on the 2015 Evoque.

I spent a five mile run recently chatting to her about her job and asking her questions about how it feels to be a female in a very male dominated profession (this was the subject of a previous comment piece and I’m always interested to champion female engineers because they are currently in the minority).

She did say she was one of only a handful of female engineers in the company but doesn’t feel sidelined and enjoys her job immensely.

Another cause for celebration was Jonathan Ive – the British designer responsible for Apple’s iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad – recently being knighted at Buckingham Palace in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

Sir Jonathan Ive, as he will now be known, became a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire for “services to design and enterprise”. I think it is well deserved for the iconic products he has created – although I would say that, being a current owner of three of them. What was life like before my iPhone?

Ive is notoriously very quiet about what he does and reveals nothing as to what happens behind closed doors at Apple HQ. This is definitely one company that I’ll never get the scoop on – how they bring their products to market and what software and tools they use. But I quite like that – a bit of mystery to his role as an industrial designer.

Of course, there was a great deal of press about him following his knighthood and my favourite quote came from an article in the Telegraph, which I think is so true: “Design is a word that’s come to mean so much that it’s also a word that has come to mean nothing.”

So, with all this reason for celebration and the Olympics just around the corner, it’s a great time to be proudly British. And when you watch Team GB compete, remember that many of the products they are competing with have been designed and engineered and possibly also manufactured on home turf. Now that’s worth flying the flag for.

Tanya Weaver celebrates British design
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