AT HOME WITH THE CONRANS


Say the name ‘Conran’ and the halls of time echo with the reverberations of years of design excellence. It’s hard to separate the history of design in Britain from Sir Terence Conran.

LIVES IN DESIGN: AT HOME WITH THE CONRANS

I’m not often star-struck. Over the past two years working on this magazine and the opportunities afforded me by the blog before that have exposed me to a range of people on the upper end of the ‘star’ spectrum.

I survived lunch with Steven Berkoff. Twice. There’s a picture of me doing the rounds in which, having interviewed lovely Swizz Beatz twice, I am beaming at him proprietarily like a proud aunt.

But then I met Sir Terence Conran. And the only thing I could say was the absolute truth

‘Sir Terence, I feel like I’m walking in the Valley of Kings.’

Such is the impact of Conran on the design world. Many would argue that Sir Terence IS the design world. Every well-dressed high street from the 1960s onwards was endowed with a Habitat. Later, the store du jour was the eponymous Conran Store, each encapsulating the moods and desires of its time.

On an overcast day in September, my team and I were honoured to be able to spend time with three generations of the Conran family, and their interactions with each other spoke volumes about, not only a life devoted to design, but also a life devoted to each other.

Far from treating us as an inconvenience, they couldn’t have been more welcoming as we positioned them this way and that.

Designer, cook and author Sophie Conran, long of hair and limb, smiles readily at our crew, entertaining them with anecdotes of her life with her father Sir Terence, and with her son, Felix. Felix for his part wanders amongst the many design classics decorating the room we’re shooting in, like a young Sebastian Flyte, without the tortured Catholic soul.

Humour is in great supply, especially from Felix who wears his heritage lightly but brings seriousness to each of his endeavours, the latest being his clothing line CLOTH, launched in September and fusing artistry of design with a passion for the process. Was design always going to factor in his career plan?

‘ Always’, he says without hesitation. What’s his earliest memory of life as a Conran?

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