Monthly Archives: January 2011

Conran: Paul Zara the pin-up on the future of architecture…

Conran & Partners Director Paul Zara, who heads up our Brighton office, never seems to be out of the media spotlight for long, as this article in Brighton newspaper The Argus shows.

There’s a lot going on down at our Brighton office at the moment- from helping to save Saltdean Lido to developing unique residential properties to the much talked about redeveloped of the Astoria (read his article to find out what’s really going on there…)

Plus noone can argue with his musings about how the rise in tuition fees may affect the future of architecture in this country…

- Click on the picture below to read the full interview and find out more about his vision for our favourite seaside city…

Click to read all about Paul in The Argus

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Conran: Gear up for the new Conran Shop windows celebrating 100 years of Michelin House

You may well have read about this year being the 100th year Anniversary of Michelin house both on this blog and in the media in general. Here’s a nice little piece in The Telegraph for example. Such an iconic building cannot fail to draw attention and interest.

To celebrate further The Conran Shop on Fulham Road – itself contained within Michelin House – has unveiled an amazing new window display using vintage cars and objects from the Michelin archives.

See more photos on The Conran Shop blog and read this fascinating post about the display created by Betsy Simth, Head of Visual Merchandising, and her team.

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Conran: Our Sheffield skyscraper

Taking official photographs of buildings is always a tricky one when having to rely on the erratic UK weather, as Conran & Partners marketing manager Victoria Freeman will testify.

The task is rendered even more of a challenge when the building in question is slap bang in the middle of Sheffield and the shoot date falls in one of the greyest months of the year.

The building was St Paul’s tower – exterior and interior design by the team at Conran & Partners.

Despite keeping a keen eye on the weather forecast and dashing up on a day that promised sun, on the train in they could see the city ahead shrouded in cloud. However, Victoria and photographer Julian Abrams were in luck!

‘About 10.30 the clouds parted and left us with the most glorious blue sky and bright sunshine – absolutely perfect for showing our 32 storey tower in the best light’

Here’s some of their shots. Never have we seen a Sheffield sky so blue!

For more info on St Paul’s, and any other of our Architectural projects please email or check out

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Conran: Conran Singh uncovered…

We are very excited about our brand new digital venture – Conran Singh.

It’s an entirely new design-led business within the Conran Group that will give brands strategic advice and interactive design thinking.

Stephen Barber joins Daljit Singh as Strategy Director – over a coffee at The Design Museum he tells us a bit more about what’s going on at Conran’s newest company…

How would you describe CONRAN Singh?
We’re an interactive design consultancy. We’re convinced that design should be elegant, simple and effective regardless of the medium and we’re paying special attention to how digital services and utilities can make life easier for people.

Do you think it’s possible for a company whose history is so firmly rooted in retail, product design and architecture to extend its reach to the digital world?
I really don’t think it’s such a stretch. Most retailers – Conran included – are already selling things on the web, and they’ll be selling them through social networks, mobile devices and TV before too much longer. That innate knowledge of knowing how to sell things works just as well on a screen as it does in a physical shop.

And product designers are all over this too – one of the things I’ve noticed during my career in digital is the diverse backgrounds of the people you meet working in agencies. Many of the digital designers I know started out by studying product design, and then felt that it translated over to this new medium. If you think about it, designing for the screen has a lot of things in common with designing real-world products: we think about the tactility of the interface – how it feels, how it looks, and how it behaves; and then we think about the things that are going to attract people to it in the first place.

As for architecture, it’s clear that when you talk about digital now you’re not just talking about people sitting in front of screens in their homes or at work, but out there in the world, doing the things that they’ve always done. We just have many more digital ‘helpers’ doing things for us – phones, laptops, apps – and these are starting to shape how we interact with the built environment. We’ve seen lots of people trying out new things in retail environments recently (check out this nice prototype by a team from Hyper Island: ) but I’d suggest that we’ll start to see real digital utility and service start to integrate with the very fabric of the buildings we occupy before too much longer…

What are you working on at the moment?

We’re busy creating the DNA for the company, really. I mean, we’re having all sorts of interesting conversations with other businesses about how we can help them, but we’re also at that point in starting something where what we decide now is going to influence the next few years of our working lives. So it’d better be good!

What’s been the best thing you have done so far in your digital career?
Some of the best things I’ve done have never even seen the light of day, that’s the sad reality of working in a digital agency. I’ve helped one of our largest education companies redefine what it means to be a qualified learner by thinking about measuring learning differently – that was one of my favourite things, but the proposition we worked on was never taken up.

Probably the best thing recently has been working with a Middle Eastern airline to help them design the best airline web site in the world. Did you know that if you’re a first class passenger, you get to take your falcon on board with you?!

What’s the most exciting thing about being part of CONRAN?
I love the fact that you’re working within this immense design heritage when you sit in the CONRAN building. It’s everywhere around you, and our opportunity is to start to pull together some of the strands of the different businesses and tie them into a single consolidated offering that takes the best bits of product design, branding, architecture, digital thinking, and mashes them up into a unique, problem-solving design consultancy. Daljit has his own inimitable way of describing this: if you see him, just ask him about his döner kebab…

We’ve also heard tell of a brand new CONRAN Singh blog, all about goings on in digital design and communication, coming soon…so watch this space….

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Conran: If you go down to the woods today…

As we saw a couple of days ago our furniture lines pop up all over the place but a group of treehouses is possibly one of the more unusual locations…

The stylish Alphason by Conran media cabinet has been selected by Center Parcs, the leading UK provider of family short break holidays, for their new luxury Treehouses.

The two-storey Treehouses are located in the 400-acre woodland site at Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire and feature 4 en-suite bedrooms with private balconies, an open plan kitchen, dining and living area, a separate games den and a private hot tub.

Daniel Ward of Shipway, the project mangers for the Treehouse project said:

“We particularly liked the clean stylish lines of the Alphason by Conran media cabinet and the way that the specially designed fold-away doors didn’t intrude on the living space. Also, it is very capacious and provides a very neat AV equipment storage solution in the Games Den area of the Treehouses.”

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Conran: Content by Conran spotting…

When you know a range of furniture so well it’s always great to see it in people’s homes and offices, in the press and even on the small screen.

Here’s a selection of our Content by Conran furniture collection – gone famous….

A red Aspen armchair appears behind Cheryl Cole’s flowing locks in a L’Oreal ad (we’ll resist mentionning that famous tag line…), the new Freeview ads feature our multi-tasking Balance coffee table as an AV unit and Phil and Kirstie even sat on a Berkshire sofa in their pre-Christmas domestic spectacular Phil & Kirstie’s Perfect Christmas…

Plus here’s a favourite shot of our iconic Glove chairs nestling in the window of the very hip Red Bull Academy on Tooley Street just around the corner from Conran HQ.

Check out the full range here. Let us know if you spot any!


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Conran: Limited edition Michelin House poster for sale…

Remember that award winning poster Terence chose for Michelin House that we featured a while back…(click here to read)?

Check out this article in The Telegraph all about the 100year Anniversary of Michelin House and details on how to buy a copy of the limited edition poster by RCA student Marta Dlugolecka.

Click to read

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Conran: Design Heaven and Hell – Pia Munden of mydeco

Here’s the next in our Design Heaven and Hell column – where the great and good of the design world tell us about their loves and loathes from the back catalogue of design.

Pia Munden is the Design Director of, the one-stop destination website for the home, where you can design your own room in 3d, get design tips from professionals and shop for product all in one go…

As Design Director, Pia works with the mydeco community encouraging and supporting them to create 3D rooms and moodboards to inspire others with their own homes.

The best part of her job, she says, is seeing the variety of creative content out there from people who love design for design’s sake…

More about mydeco next week – here are her choices.

Hell – Louis Ghost chair  – It’s over used and over seen. Show me it again in 10 years and I may change my mind.  They have become a symbol of a time, which in itself is good but on the other side it is a shame as it’s a clever chair – looks good and has an innovative design – inspiration from 18th century French furniture crossed with modern materials –  but sadly for me, I just don’t want to see another.  I would rather see its predecessor La Marie.

(She would rather see one of these…)

Heaven – Original BTC Hector Dome Lamp – A modern classic that works in every interior style – it’s as good in a study or a bedroom whether belonging to an adult or kids.  Generally a great all rounder.  The product is simple, clean and well designed.  The materials are good quality and made to last, and I do love the bone china shade and cotton braid flex – if only I could get the flex in different colours!

What do you think?

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Conran: Cookbooks Terence can’t live without

New Year, New You? Whether it’s a resolve to eat more healthily, loose weight or learn to cook a few more dishes, many people will be vowing to spend a little bit more time in the kitchen in 2011.

Who better to advise you on which cookbooks from which to take inspiration than Terence – the man who revolutionised the way we eat – still opening restaurants all around the world to this day.

One of his great pleasures in life is cooking – so don’t miss this article in The Telegraph on the 8 cookbooks he couldn’t live without. We are not, however, promising any of them will help shrink your waistline…

Read the article in full

Got the inspiration but need to action it? Try browsing The Conran Shop for a superb selection of great kitchenware to get you started…

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Conran: Happy New Year – Don’t forget to design a great 2011!

Still reeling from the usual, long-term seasonal hangover/flu epidemic?

We at Conran are back to work bright and breezy – although of course there’s plenty of leftover Christmas chocolate and boxes of Kleenex doing the rounds…

There’s plenty in store from us for 2011….watch this space!

In the meantime if any of your New Year’s resolutions include any words such as ‘tidy’ or ‘organise’ check out this post on The Conran Shop blog. Shop your way to efficient – and stylish – organisation….

Well.. it’s a good place to start….

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