Remembering Terence Conran: iconic designer and tastemaker

Terence Conran

This weekend brought sad news of the passing of Sir Terence Conran at age 88. The visionary designer and founder of Habitat stores and the iconic House, New House and Bed and Bath books changed the way the world - and his native Britain in particular - saw interior design.

Conran began his career in the 1940s. But came into his own in the 60s alongside creatives like fashion designer Mary Quant.

He's credited with bringing flatpack furniture to Britain, with the objective of democratising good design. He also introduced the UK to duvets.



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Conran opened his first Habitat store in 1964 - featuring, furniture, homewares and food-focused products in one place: the retail concept we now call lifestyle. His company, the Conran Design Group, channelled the founder's interests in restaurants, furniture, interior and retail space design.

"He was a visionary who enjoyed an extraordinary life and career that revolutionised the way we live in Britain," his family said in a statement.

"It gives us great comfort to know that many of you will mourn with us but we ask that you celebrate Terence's extraordinary legacy ..."

He "promoted the best of British design, culture and the arts around the world", with "a very simple belief that good design improves the quality of people's lives".

Terence Conran

The longevity of Terence Conran's vision may be best demonstrated in the ongoing appeal of his design aesthetic. As demonstrated in scans of his  books. And also, his enduring notes on interior design. Some of the best from the revolutionary creator, below.

Terence Conran on unpretentious living:

"My mantra is to try to create a home that is unpretentious, so that when people come through the door they're happy to take off their jackets, kick off their shoes, and settle on the sofa with a drink and a book or magazine."

Terence Conran

On how to redecorate:

"Take everything out of your living room. While it's empty, consider the quality of light and how you can improve it. Move back into the room only furniture that you really love or things that are very practical."

On the ideal home:

"If our homes should provide anything, they should provide a sense of who we are and how we got here, a sense of connection balanced by a sense of direction and progress."

Images from top: scan from Terence Conran, New House Book, 1985; scan from Terence Conran, The Bed and Bath Book, 1978; scan from Terence Conran, The Bed and Bath Book, 1978.

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