When it comes to the U.K’s creative heritage we have a very rich history of design icons to celebrate and since returning to the U.K. after several years in Hong Kong, I find myself rediscovering all the incredible talent this country has to offer.
Having recently had the task of buying a gift for the man who has everything (my husband) I found myself at the beautifully restored Michelin House and home to one of my favourite lifestyle stores, The Conran Shop.
Founded in 1974 by the brilliant creative genius that is Sir Terence Conran, it is a true celebration of contemporary design. Its aim ‘to inspire and excite’ its customer and that it certainly does! Laid out like a beautifully crafted interactive exhibit, it is truly decadent assault on the senses! I feel a martini would be appropriate as I drift my way through lighting, interiors, home wares, cookware and more in my creative daze!
The 10 minutes I’d given myself to look at ‘the gift’ are long gone. I want to move in! Who knew I needed 5 perfectly laid out sitting rooms, including the carefully arranged coffee table accessories, a new set of exquisitely crafted wooden handled tableware, those oh so stunning tan leather mirrors on beautiful buckled straps, that exquisite linen bedding in every shade I could dream of…. what did I come in for? I feel like Alice in Wonderland where everything is speaking to me, ‘try me, buy me’, eek, this is going to be an expensive exercise! Can I really resist? Yes, the retail concept of the brilliantly creative Sir Terrance Conran has me well and truly in its grasp and isn’t going to let go anytime soon!
And Conran has certainly earned his stripes as a very British design icon of our times! At 85 his contribution to British design is well documented. Born in Kingston Upon Themes, Conran attended The Central School of Art & Design, which later became part of the much-acclaimed Central St Martin’s.
Having studied textiles and other materials he left college and joined Dennis Lennon’s architectural company.
In 1956 Conran started his own design practice where he designed a shop for the much-celebrated fellow British designer and style icon Dame Mary Quant.
In 1964, he opened the first Habit store in Chelsea, London, which grew into the Storehouse PLC group in the 1980’s.
In 1974 he founded The Conran Shop and in 1984, he co-founded the brand Benchmark Furniture with Sean Sutcliffe.
In 1980 he established the architecture and planning consultancy Conran Roche with Fred Roche CBE. Their projects included the restoration of Michelin House, home of restaurant Bibendum and The Conran Shop and a personal favourite, the Bluebird Garage in Chelsea.
He has also written over 50 books on design, reflecting his philosophy.
With such an incredible history, its not surprising that in 1983 Sir Terence Conran was knighted and in 2017 he was appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in the Birthday Honours list for his services to design. And his list of awards goes on!
So if you are looking for a little creative inspiration this weekend or are looking for a few new pieces to brighten up your home, whilst autumn is fast approaching, then take a trip to The Conran Shop at Michelin House, and once you’ve taken in the buildings exquisitely restored exterior, give yourself plenty of time, to indulge in some beautifully crafted products and some truly exquisite British Products. And here’s a few of my favourites, a Jasper Morrison chair, a Tom Dixon light, a beautiful Magnus Long leather lounge chair or a true British design classic, an Anglepoise + Paul Smith lamp. Hmmm, I think I need a bigger house! And if you cant make it to London, then take a look at there beautifully laid out website and treat your home to a design classic or two!