Listening to Grayson Perry’s third Reith Lecture “Playing To The Gallery” I was struck by a throw away comment he made about wooden cladding and how it relates to garden office businesses.
He was talking about property developers leaching the soul out of the more affordable areas of London and other major cities. Painters, potters and writers who have moved into these areas find that once their area as a reputation for being ‘artistic’ or ‘Bohemian’ the big property developers move in. They build generic apartments and flat roofed houses clad with wood and lo and behold, the artistic community either can’t afford to live there anymore, or don’t want to because the intrinsic nature of their district has changed. “Beware of the arrival wooden cladding” was Grayson’s ironic message.
This led me to think about the garden office buildings market and how, every now and again a swathe of ‘property developers’ move in. These are new garden office and garden room businesses who have taken a quick glance at the garden buildings market and thought “I want a bit of that”. They then look around and discover that, without having to do any creative thinking or design work, they can buy SIPS kits for the ubiquitous flat roofed, cedar clad garden office and garden room buildings that we now see everywhere. So they jump straight into the market. And the only way to compete is…….. to do it cheaper, because so many other ‘property developers’ are already doing the same thing. Selling the same buildings.
The Crafted Garden Office
But, if you search further into the garden buildings market you will find that some of the more creative garden office and garden buildings businesses are still there. The ones that haven’t been driven out of their community by the ‘property developers’. Many of these surviving businesses are the ones that were there at the beginning – the artisans that see building a garden office as a unique craft rather than a standard ‘wooden clad’ commodity. Others are welcome new entrants with something worthwhile to communicate and sell to their customers.
In “Playing To The Gallery” Grayson Perry says the art world always seems to be associated with novelty and that the media are drawn to the idea of there being an avant-garde. For art to be media-worthy it has to be described as “cutting edge,” “radical,” “mould-breaking,” “ground-breaking,” “game-changing” or “revolutionary,” These are words that are also routinely applied to products in the commercial world to perk up something that we have all seen before!
So what do we want from a garden office company? Do we want cutting edge design? In the garden buildings market? Do we want a game changing garden office? Or would individuality of design combined with good quality building materials and woods be enough for most consumers?
I think we want authentic garden office designs that have been thought through by the business owners who have a flair for building design and superior technical knowledge. I think we want buildings that are carefully built by experienced employees of those companies. I think we want great service for customers and excellent value for money. And excellent value for money doesn’t mean the cheapest.
Hear Grayson Perry’s 2013 Reith Lectures: