FSW Design

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by FSW Design's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from FSW Design is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP


PhillipForrest Smith, managing
Concept generation
Design and development is fundamental to the success of
many businesses and crucial to the creation of a thriving
manufacturing economy. Many enterprises don’t fully
realise the power of design. It’s easy to look at corporations like
Apple and be envious of the unimaginable financial success they
have achieved, without comprehending that Apple is a design-led
company with innovation at the core of its strategy. FSW Design’s
founder and managing director Phillip Forrest Smith explains.
In the UK we still undervalue careers in design and engineering and direct the most
able students in other directions. This is certainly not the case in other parts of
Europe. In Germany, for example, an engineer is considered a profession with high
social status and paramount importance is given to vocational education to provide
a highly skilled workforce.
At FSW Design we offer consultancy services which provide specialist design and
development expertise. Located near Nottingham, we are centrally positioned and
close to the UK’s main manufacturing hub.
Our clients range from blue chip companies to SMEs and start-up businesses where
we have been instrumental in developing products across broad product categories.
For some of the individuals we have worked with, the development process has
provided the foundations for growth into multimillion-pound concerns.
We offer a very personal service and pride ourselves on the long-term relationships
we have with our clients. Since founding FSW in 1995, we have designed and
taken to manufacture over 400 class-leading, award-winning products.
FSW Design
»Managing director:
PhillipForrest Smith
»Established in 1995
»Based in Nottingham
»Services: Product design and
»No. of employees: 6
»Award-winning company
Highlighting best practice
Examples of the diverse range of
projects we have been involved in
include Razordeck, designed for
Birchwood Price Tools, part of the
Travis Perkins group. This product is a
lightweight self-erecting tower system
enabling users to rapidly assemble the
tower from a flat-packed position and
then work safely at height.
In the healthcare sector we have
recently worked in conjunction with
Bristol Maid to develop a unique overbed
table system designed for easy cleaning
to avoid the growth of hospital bugs.
We aim to help our customers
recognise how design can differentiate
them in the marketplace. A unique
product provides a company with
competitive advantage as they no
longer compete solely on price.
Design education
I would like to see the UK harness more
effectively the power of design for
economic and cultural benefit and for
the nation to be more design aware. The
foundations of this must be built into the
education of our children. In the UK we
have a proud history of world-leading
design education. The fruits of this can
be seen when you look at the number
of UK designers heading international
design teams in some of the major
corporations around the world, for
example, Jonathan Ive atApple.
My fear is that design education is not
heading in the right direction. Since the
curriculum changes in 2014 there has
been an emphasis on the core subjects
of maths, English and science. In many
cases this has left design isolated and
I am aware of schools where they
no longer have space for design and
technology in the curriculum.
It is all too easy for design and
technology to be treated as a non-
academic subject. In fact, it offers a
unique opportunity for students to see
the practical applications of mathematical
and scientific knowledge in real-world
applications. It provides a platform for
students to engage in entrepreneurial
projects, bringing forward ideas of how
design can be leveraged in a commercial
context and encourages independent
and analytical thinking skills.
Internship programme
At FSW Design, we offer an internship
programme where students spend
a year working on design projects
before returning to university to
complete their final year of study. This
has proven very successful, offering
real-world commercial experience
for talented young designers. It has
also provided a fantastic vehicle for
us to collaborate with universities,
highlighting the importance of industry
and educational links to ensure the
curriculum remains relevant and
knowledge transfer takes place.
Industry’s understanding of
A greater knowledge of design and how
it can be applied commercially is vital for
individuals at all levels of management.
Often, the businesses we engage with
do not have adequate strategies in place
to pursue a development project. Most
companies aspire to innovate, but do
not understand the steps required to
make this happen. At FSW Design we
have developed our process to ensure
Bristol Maid overbed
I would like to
see the UK
harness more
effectively the
power of
design for
economic and
cultural benefit
and for the
nation to be
more design
projects are carefully managed and the
appropriate resources and expertise
are put in place to deliver on time, on
budget and with minimal impact on
the environment.
FSW Design and overseas trade
FSW Design has an international
portfolio of clients. With modern
technology it’s possible to liaise actively
with customers all over the world.
We see great opportunities for how
design can be employed in developing
economies. China, which has seen
huge economic growth over recent
years and become the manufacturing
hub of the world, is a good example.
The economy is now maturing and
there is a greater recognition for the
role design and development can play.
The Chinese consumer is increasingly
design aware and Chinese companies
are responding by developing more
sophisticated products and brands.
This is also evident where Chinese
companies aspire to export higher-
brand-level products to the West
commanding greater financial returns,
like the phone brand Huawei. In many
instances Chinese companies need
European design input to achieve an
aesthetic suitable for a worldwide
market and this creates opportunities
for the UK creative industry.
Industry’s appetite to
manufacture in the UK
Although China continues to dominate
manufacturing, a positive trend we
have encountered is for UK-based
companies to bring production back
to the UK. Overseas labour rates are
increasing and when this is combined
with the timescales and costs involved
in shipping product large distances, it
can make UK manufacturing a more
attractive proposition.
For this to gain momentum it is essential
that businesses are supported financially,
allowing investment in automation to
increase productivity. An appropriate
grant structure or economic stimulus
could be the catalyst to encourage
more companies to pursue this model.
I am passionate about design. The
process of solving problems and creating
innovative answers is an intrinsic part of
my life and has provided a fascinating
career. I’m optimistic about what
can be achieved through design and
development as a conduit for creating
new business opportunities. The
challenge we have as a nation is to find
ways of encouraging more businesses
to embark on development projects and
harness the talent that we have already
created to generate greater prosperity.
A greater
knowledge of
design and
how it can be
is vital for
individuals at
all levels of
Left: Razor deck
Right: Defender cannon


This article was sponsored by FSW Design. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister