“We have several clocks in this collection but I have to say I think this is my favourite. I sketched it when we first began talking about this project and its deceptively simple design belies a rather more challenging manufacturing process; layering three types of wood veneer onto a solid oak base, matching the woods together to make up the design whilst maintaining a beautiful, smooth finish.” Terence Conran
We are sure this clock is set to become a classic. Its graphic, contemporary form has the merest nod to the retro styling of the sunburst clocks of the 50s, when Terence first began working, but keeps it simple, clean and contemporary – what Conran does best.
£79 available from M&S stores throughout the UK and online atwww.marksandspencer.com/autumn
Last Saturday over 200 staff from Conran Head Office and Benchmark, Terence’s furniture making business in Berkshire, gathered on the lawns of his country house Barton Court for the biannual Conran Head Office vs Benchmark cricket match – a fun-filled afternoon of cricket, eating, drinking and general socialising in the late summer sun.
Terence, of course, does lunch for over 200 people with more than the usual panache – half a tree acting as a table groaned with hocks of ham, truckles of cheddar, vast bowls of leafy salad, jugs of celery, kilner jars full of homemade chutneys and pickles and great baskets of freshly baked bread; a ploughman’s dream. Well, those cricketers needed something to keep them going didn’t they? Not sure the rest of us had quite such an excuse unless you count lolling about on the lawns in the sun with a nice glass of wine, half pints of local ale or a cool bottle of cider as being a strenuous activity.
One of the loveliest parts of the day is being able to explore Terence’s beautiful gardens. The walled kitchen garden is a joy to wander about in, perusing all the vegetables and marvelling at the giant sunflowers.
Tea was truly astounding. Suddenly people who’d just been commenting how full they were from lunch miraculously had room for quite a few slices of countless homemade delights. Victoria Sponge cakes, strawberry tarts, lemon cake dotted with poppy seeds, scones, jars of homemade jam and a bowl of the thickest clotted cream were just some of the selection.
Conran Head Office skipper Mat Riches was keen to keep the title so hard fought for two years ago but those upstarts Benchmark were having none of it finally winning at around 18.00 with 126 runs again Conran’s 111.
Congratulations also to man of the match Architectural Assistant Mike Beacham from Conran & Partners. And of course, to all those that took part! (and those hard working supporters……)
Read more about the day on the Benchmark blog More here on the Benchmark blog
We’ve been developing our brand new Conran Bath & Body range of toiletries with industry-leading partners Kokomo for around 18 months now.
That may sound like a long time but when you consider every aspect of the bottles and jars has been meticulously specified, detailed and designed by Studio Conran and developed by Conran & Company– from the custom-made pumps, to the clean, contemporary graphics, not to mention the fragrances and all-important formulations – it’s a process that’s well worth the wait. And we have not been disappointed by the end result!
We’d seen visuals, mock ups and countless renderings of the bottles from the initial range of 14 products before, but last week, when we saw the first production samples, we were bowled over; the bottles are beautifully smooth, satisfyingly heavy and generous in size and, after testing and developing the two fragrances for good part of 12 months you would think we might be bored of them by now, but no – they smelled fresher and more beautiful than ever. We can’t wait to get them in the bathroom!
We’ve just finished doing the photoshoot too so some gorgeous new imagery on it’s way!
More about this product when it launches in around 6 weeks time…
Not only have Living Etc featured our new collection for M&S (still a bit hush-hush!) but Retro To Go and The Guardian have obviously been keeping a watchful eye out too.
There’s not much info available online about the collection at the moment because it’s not actually available to buy online until the 23rd September. It will be launching in London’s M&S Stratford store on the 13th September and throughout the UK the week after to coincide with online launch.
Don’t forget also that this Autumn’s range is just a taster of things to come: 70 products that pave the way for the +300 that will be available from January 2012 as part of the M&S Spring/Summer collection.
Here’s a glimpse of the Wilkins Sideboard with fun, fire hose valve handles in teal. Open the drawers too to reveal a flash of teal in the lining.
Also don’t forget we will be introducing you to Terence’s Top Ten products from the Preview Autumn collection from Sept 12th – when we will feature one each day right here on the Conran blog. Watch this space!
Just in case you missed Designs of the Year at the Design Museum which closed last weekend here’s a quick summary from the team at Conran & Company.
The Thomas Heatherwick Spun chairs (last seen here in our post on the Milan Furniture Fair 2010) were a hit – you really have to trust that you don’t fall backwards onto your head!
Still, they are really fun and surely a great solution for outside – available to buy at the Design Museum shop!
In the ‘Interactive’ category the crowdsourced Johnny Cash project was really intriguing and beautiful – such a great idea. (Crowdsourcing and crowfunding is rather a hot topic at the moment – see our post from the debate we held here a few weeks ago- with full report to come…)
There’s more than one cycling enthusiast in our offices and the Transport section gave us plenty of food for thought when it came to new designs and innovations in this category.
We became slightly obsessed with the videos of people using the rather unusual but very fun looking Yike Bikes
– but some were less impressed by the new ‘super commuter’ offering from Vanmoof - which while very practical (especially loving the integrated heavy-duty lock) was deemed to be slightly ugly – still, anything to stop your bike getting nicked!
In general the Graphics category was much admired, not in the least the eventual winner, the amazingly simple, almost Feng-Shui type images for a Swedish Cookery book: Homemade is Best by Forsman & Bodenfors for IKEA- carefully composed graphic still lifes that bring the ingredients centrestage.
Of course it goes without saying that we loved the overall winner, the now ubiquitous Plumen light bulb by Sam Wilkinson and Hulger (read our exclusive Q&A with Sam here….)
If you missed Designs of the Year do not fret there’s an equally brilliant exhibition on Kenneth Grange (you’ll know more of his products than you think) – and watch this space for details of a very special exhibition later in the year…all about Terence!
Celebrating his 80th birthday in September, it’s entitled THE WAY WE LIVE NOW and will feature work from over 60 years including original habitat pieces, Terence’s sketches and bestselling products from over the eras.
Ever wonderered what Terence does when he’s not ‘working’? Actually, as we see from this article on his perfect weekend in The FT How To Spend It, a perfect weekend can mean quite a bit of working too…
Still, we are glad to see he seems to allow a fair amount of time for entertaining, ‘sitting outside in the garden’, building rills, perusing junk shops and buying delicious, locally sourced food to cook as well as spending Sunday with his children and grandchildren. What indeed could be more perfect….
Click here to read the full article…
Whatever you thought of it as a business, Habitat’s decline and fall is very sad news indeed. We all have loads of Habitat in our homes, and its loss means more dreaded visits to IKEA (don’t ask me about my personal experience of buying a bed for my younger son. Or how long it took to make!). Or risking buying online - things never look quite the same, do they? And I’m not sure I want it that cheaply from China.
But what is happening? Woolworths, Habitat, Thorntons, HMV, Oddbins…what next? Mary ‘Queen of Shops’ Portas is meant to be sorting it for the government – I wait with baited breath.
Meanwhile, Fiona Hamilton, retail partner at agents King Sturge is less pessimistic. Looking to the USA, source of all retail trends, they are forecasting a 5.1% annual increase in retail sales. In her recent Property Week article (6 May 11) she looks at social media and the role that now plays in marketing. Sites like Groupon and price comparison apps on your phone are big news. Both the luxury and the budget ends of the spectrum are thriving stateside and ‘stores within stores’ are big (“brand butlering” it’s called- keep up!). The big boys such as Walmart are looking at smaller stores, so will we see mini-ASDA’s competing with the ubiquitous Tesco? (I have 5 Tesco stores within 1 mile of my house).
But 4th July is Independent Retailers day. And all over the country we are being urged to buy at least one thing from an independent shop. This has to be an alternative, parallel route to bringing back our high streets. Here in Brighton we have the unique North Laine area, loads of small interesting shops, cafes and bars. It’s where the Body Shop started! Have a look at www.uniquebrighton.com or better still come here and spend some money.
Maybe the high street has a future after all.
Paul Zara, Director at Conran & Partners, Brighton office.