Meet the man behind the pioneering store Habitat, which changed the way people shopped for home décor
Long before democratic design became the buzzword that it is, this octogenarian made it his life mission. Sir Terence Conran tackled many a design problem on its head to create some of the most iconic products of its time. Never the one to shy away from tough decisions, Conran went on to become the design industry’s most loved designer, retailer, writer, restaurateur and businessman.
His pioneering furniture store Habitat embodies his understanding of people’s desire for their homes to reflect their personalities. The hip British public devoured the fresh, modern and colourful world of the Habitat, which sold duvets (one of the many things the world is thankful to Conran for), beanbags, chicken bricks and much more. The success of Habitat led to Conran tastefully building his empire, starting with the more luxurious and exclusive – The Conran Store. The staff even wore uniforms designed by Mary Quant and had hair styled by Vidal Sasoon!
Design’s original revivalist, Conran took up the challenge of transforming old stables in an area tucked in a neglected part of London into the chic Conran Store slowly revitalising the derelict area. For Conran, this was the most satisfying experience of his career. And he repeated this again with Quaglino – a restaurant now frequented by the rich and famous – from a rat infested Picaddily shop. After his travels in France he brought to England the rustic experience of The Soup Kitchen and served soup in a mug with cheese and bread during a time when people were on rations.
Conran says that he has always been a collector – of moths and butterflies as a boy and of the more exquisite things like the 30 Bugatti pedal cars that hang in his house now. Everything that surrounds his life is handpicked down to the Humidor, which holds his cigars.
A creator, visionary, a legend, a tastemaker – Conran has impacted the everyday lives of millions through his work. And yet believes in an age powered by technology, it is crucial to remember the importance of putting pencil to paper.