Dids Macdonald OBE, CEO of the design and intellectual property membership and campaigning organisation Anti Copying in Design (ACID), was last night installed as the 58th master of The Furniture Makers’ Company, the City of London livery company and charity for the furnishing industry.
Dids, who succeeded Hayden Davies, is the second female master in the company’s history.
The annual installation ceremony took place at St Mary-le-Bow Church, followed by a commemorative dinner in the Egyptian Room at Mansion House, the official residence of the lord mayor of London. Around 220 guests were in attendance, and were joined by city dignitaries including the lord mayor of London alderman Peter Estlin, lady mayoress Lindy Estlin, and alderman and sheriff Amanda Vincent Keaveny.
Dids says: “To represent the furnishings industry as master of The Furniture Makers’ Company is not only an honour but a huge opportunity to champion the outstanding work of this talented sector.”
In a speech to guests, she announced that one of her focuses for the year would be increasing awareness of the company’s welfare support provision to industry workers through the launch of a new campaign called One Step at a Time.
“I plan on raising awareness about our charitable giving so that every single individual knows where to come if a curveball strikes," she said. "As well as encouraging more women to join our ranks, I will do everything I can to raise awareness about the looming skills gap crisis.”
The evening also included a ceremony for The Christopher Claxton Stevens Prize and a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Christopher Claxton Stevens Prize was presented to Marc Fish for the Vortex Table, while the Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Sir Terence Conran CH, FCSD.
Born in York to Scottish parents, Dids’ early years were inspired at New Earswick Junior school. Created by forward-thinking philanthropist Joseph Rowntree, the school pioneered creative teaching methods. At a time when independence and creativity were not as encouraged as they are today, Dids and formal education parted company prematurely, and she joined BOAC as air cabin crew when the glamour of international travel was at an apex, and Dids was selected to spend four years flying on the Concorde.
Utilising former training and skills, Dids and a friend then decided to leave BA to establish an interior design business in Chelsea. Their first break was the refurbishment of apartments behind Harrods for the Abu Dhabi Royal Family.
Subsequent projects included country house hotels and refurbishing flats in London for the rental market. The pair later founded a decorative accessories business called Holbein, designing and making a range of hand-painted tassels and finials to match luxury fabrics. The business was small but successful.
But with creativity and innovation came imitation and, when the pair launched new products, they were copied. Outraged at the blatancy of the IP theft, Dids co-founded Anti Copying in Design (ACID) in 1998.
ACID exists to help designers and manufacturers protect their intellectual property. As CEO of the UK’s main campaigning body for design law reform, Dids spearheaded a campaign to make the intentional infringement of a registered design a crime, and this became law and was enshrined in the 2014 IP Act. In 2015, Dids was recognised for services to the UK design sector with an OBE.
Dids is a regular contributor to Furniture News magazine, and was been on the 2016 judging panel of The Furniture Awards.