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The Jeeves and Wooster lamps by Innermost
The Jeeves and Wooster lamps by Innermost

Il designer Russell Cameron ci presenta degli oggetti molto originali: delle lampade a forma di cilindro e bombetta, sul modello di Jeeves e Wooster. Un'idea super British, anche se tutto è made in China… LANGUAGE LEVEL C1 (ADVANCED)

If you attend Design week in Milan you can see some remarkable products. This year, example, a London company, Innermost, presented its “Jeeves and Wooster” lamps:

 Russell Cameron (Standard British/mild Scottish accent):

Well, welcome to Milan Design Week. This company is Innermost. My name is Russell Cameron. These are the Jeeves and Wooster hat lights designed by Jake Phipps, a London-based designer. They are authentic felt top hats and bowler hats, lined with an anodized aluminium inner lining, with a G9 bulb. They were initially intended as a shop fit, contract piece, to be used within shop interior environments above mannequins’ heads. What we’ve actually seen of… them being hugely popular in the retail industry, for the domestic market, being used in cloakrooms and hallways and suchlike, and the response has been overwhelming. We’re struggling to make enough of them. I hope you like them.

And, as Russell Cameron explained, these very British lamps are made in China:

Russell Cameron: We have (a) very extensive manufacturing base, based in southern China. We have an office in Hong Kong and an office in southern China. We employ our own sort of QC (Quality Control) staff and sourcing and logistics staff. Some of them are based in the factories that we deal with. So we’re very much integrated with the sort of select number of production houses in southern China. As I say, our… the Innermost collection is primarily about innovation, so our products are difficult to make, which is why we come across, as I say, unenthusiastic factories very often. It’s just saddening that they mostly are in the UK. The reason that we initially went to China for production was a factory that we dealt with in the UK got flooded for the second time and took the insurance money, rather than set up again, and we very quickly were out of stock of a product and, unfortunately, it was easier for us to go to China and find a factory than it was to try and do it in the UK, strangely, as it might sound, but what we found in China 10 years ago was enthusiasm. You know, it was like, “Oh, I don’t know how to make that now, but come back next week and I’ll show you something.” And… and you don’t get that in the UK, and in my experience of producing products, it’s never existed in the UK. I’m sure it did exist maybe back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but they’ve kind of just rested on that and not innovated – the majority have not innovated: you will find small pockets of excellence still in the UK, and… and I hope that grows – but for us, for the batch production that we were doing, it’s not mass volume, and it’s not low volume, but you just don’t find the enthusiasm anymore. The interesting thing is China, in the 10 years we’ve been  dealing with it, it’s almost getting that way: you now have to almost sell them the concept of making products for you because they’re… they’re not cheap anymore. We never went there because they were cheap, we’d much rather a pay a fair price for a decent product and know that they would be happy to make it, and that’s, I think, why our relationships in China have grown to the strength that they have, but it’s not uncommon now to find  producers in China that aren’t interested in the business now because they’ve got plenty business elsewhere. So, in terms of low-cost production, those markets have moved on now to Vietnam or Cambodia or even India, but for specialist production as us, as I say, we’ve put a lot of investment into our markets in Hong Kong and China, as we have done in the UK, and we want to see those… want to see those flourish. So we try and find the right production source for the product design. We’re not precious so that it needs to be in one country or another, specifically, but at the same time, if you’ve got a production base somewhere that’s specialist in difficult metalwork finishing, they know how we work, we know how they work. If it works for their product, then it will go through that one… one house.  It’s unfortunate for us that the enthusiasm over the last 10 years for Innermost has been in… in China and Hong Kong but, as I say, we’re still pushing to make things in Europe, but it’s hard.

(Russell Cameron was talking to Mark Worden) 

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