Tag Archives: Design Museum

The Design Museum breaks new ground

“This is one of the best days of my long life.” So said Terence Conran at the ground breaking ceremony for the new home of the Design Museum at the Commonwealth Institute, Kensington.

The Museum’s leading lights – including Deyan Sudjic, the current Director, Terence, the founder, and John Pawson, the architect behind the Institute’s conversion – gathered to celebrate a new phase in the Museum’s history.

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The Man Who Transformed The Way We Live

Wandering around London it’s not often you see your boss’s name in lights – unless, that is, you happen to work for the man credited for changing the way we live. 

Last night Terence’s exhibition –  The Way We Live Now – opened at The Design Museum – and what a treat we had in store.

From the beauty, variety, inginuity and workmanship of the pieces themselves to the quirky, exclusive typography (done by our very own Conran Studio) and show design (ref: Conran & Partners Interior Design team) the show is a triumph. Well, we would say that wouldn’t we?! But don’t just take our word for it – it’s already got some rave reviews:

Check out Terence talking to Mark Lawson on Radio 4’s Front Row – listen here on iPlayer

A wonderful video here from The Guardian about Terence transforming Britain’s High Streets…

Here from The Express – The Man Who Transformed The Way We Live

..and that really is just for starters…more in the next couple of days – very exciting!

 Go and see for yourselves! – it’s on until 4th March 2012. Details here.

Even the room's turned Conran Blue...

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Conran: An evening at Tate Modern with Terence…

Ahead of the Design Museum’s forthcoming The Way We Live Now exhibition, which opens in November, the museum have partnered with Tate Modern for an evening celebrating our Chairman, Terence Conran. 


Just for a change Terence has the night off and can put his feet up and relax, leaving the hard work to others. Leading figures from the many worlds that Terence has been involved with during his career will take part in an evening of presentations and discussion, looking at the many ways which he has influenced the world we live in and the way we live our lives today.

The evening will be chaired by Design Museum Director Deyan Sudjic and include contributions from Sir Christopher Frayling, Stephen Bayley and Fiona MacCarthy who will each discuss an aspect of Terence’s extraordinary career. 

Stephen Bayley

Speaking of the evening, Terence says: “I’m really looking forward to the evening, if a little embarassed as I’m quite shy and don’t take compliments very easily – if that’s not a little presumptuous that the speakers will be saying nice things about me! But I admire all of them immensely and each of them have played hugely positive roles in my life so it will be enjoyable to sit back, relax and reminisce over the happiest moments of my life and career.”

We’re sure they will go easy on you Terence and  you will enjoy a night to remember! Rumours that Michael Aspel will be making an appearance with his big red leather book are entirely unfounded.

The event takes place in the Starr Auditorium at Tate Modern on Tuesday 20 September from 1830-2030. To for more information and to book tickets please click here

The Way We Live Now exhibition, which is a further celebration of Terence’s career, runs at at The Design Museum from 16 November – 04 March 2012

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Conran & Company’s: Hot and Not from Designs of the Year (mostly Hot!)

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.

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Conran: Terence’s perfect weekend

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…

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Conran: Terence’s gift to the future of design…

There’s been a lot of news this week surrounding Terence’s generous gift to the Design Museum: £17.5m worth of funding for the future to help it move from its much loved but cramped location here on the Thames to the Commonwealth Institute in west London.

Terence met the PM at Downing Street on Wednesday in recognition of this major act of philanthropy.

Deyan Sudjic, director of the museum, said Continue reading

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Conran: Do we really want to live in a country that doesn’t make anything?

Tuesday saw the arrival of another film crew here at Shad Thames to film Terence and his wise words.

This time it was the BBC to get Terence’s thoughts on something very close to his heart – manufacturing in the UK.

“Do we really want to live in a country that doesn’t make anything?”

Terence talks about Manufacturing in the UK

See what he has to say here – around the 28 min 45 secs mark!**

**Sadly iPlayer only lasts for a few days so we can’t see him in anymore…!

In a nut-shell Terence believes very strongly that we can’t just be a country of Service Industries – we must continue to make things too. Something he puts into practice whenever possible – not in the least when it comes to making furniture – with his UK furniture makers Benchmark

His comments were part of a report on the Design of the Year award at The Design Museum just around the corner from our Head Office. The winner was announced yesterday – with the Plumen energy saving light bulb scooping the top prize.

Read more about the Design of the Year exhibition right here next week…plus we are hoping to get some comments from Sam Wilkinson, the bulb’s designer… watch this space.

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Conran: London Design Festival: Pawson’s Plain Space

As London Design Festival hits the capital our team are out and about having a look at what’s going on…and enjoying a glass of wine or two along the way. Here’s Terence’s PR Manager, Mat Riches, on last night’s private view at The Design Museum.

With the London Design Festival in full swing, every mover, shaker and hipster in town has their pick of parties and launches to attend, but there was a packed crowd from the great and the good of design at The Design Museum last night for the opening of John Pawson’s Plain Space exhibition.

And it’s easy to see why we were drawn to this simple, beautiful and graceful exhibition.

I have often found architectural exhibitions to be quite dry and uninspiring – perhaps my colleagues at Conran & Partners will consider me heathen but for all the technical excellence of model making and artfully shot photography, the beauty of buildings for me is in seeing and feeling a building, whether that be close enough to touch, a vista of a skyline or from deep inside.

But Plain Space uses a wide range of media to intelligent effect to bring Pawson’s work to life with stunning effect. There is some pretty large scale photography of his architecture and I found myself lingering longest at the image of his Sackler Bridge in Kew Gardens – one of the most peaceful spots in London and my favourite place to think and contemplate life’s difficulties.

But there are also architectural elements on display such as stone, metal, wood and bronze. Pawson’s design process is examined and demonstrated through film, sketches, study models and even personal items from Pawson’s eclectic personal collection.

The highlight of Plain Space lies at the very the heart of the exhibition – a site-specific, full-sized space designed by Pawson to offer a deeply immersive experience of his work. Pawson described it as “his little temple”. This is the first time the Design Museum has produced a 1:1 scale architectural installation inside the museum and it is this sort of vision that sets Plain Space aside from other architectural exhibitions this particular heathen has visited.

Introducing the show, the Design Museum Director Dejan Sudjic called Plain Space “one of the most ambitious ambitious things that has ever been built in the galleries in Shad Thames” but I suppose it is part of Pawson’s minimalist ethos that it doesn’t immediately strike you as such. You simply get a deep appreciation of Pawson’s work, the inspirations behind it and of his personality and character and I came away far richer for the experience.

I must return at a later date…when the wine quaffing crowds have moved on to the next party and I can appreciate Pawson’s sedate simplicity in peace and quiet.

Find out more about the exhibition here

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Conran: Blueprint is 21 this month!

21 years ago Terence launched the Blueprint Cafe after moving the Boiler House (an exhibition space dedicated to industrial design) at the V&A to a deserted warehouse at Butler’s Wharf in 1989- now the present day Design Museum.

‘I think museums need cafes, so we decided to add an ace caff.’

Now under the management of D&D London the Blueprint cafe , just around the corner from us in Shad Thames, is one of our favourite eating spots and perfect for a relaxed lunch meeting.

The wine is crisp, the view is fabulous, and thanks to longserving Head Chef Jeremy Lee, who has been there for 15 years, the food is superb; salt cod salad, breast of lamb, crab cakes, broad beans, peas and bacon, and extravagant use of a parsley and mustard crust, as well as some really good ice creams and sorbets.

Plus we love Jeremy because he sometimes brings us cake. Absolutely no one can resist his chocolate brownies and divine carrot cake with frosted cream cheese icing.

The restaurant is 21 this month and here’s a lovely piece in The Telegraph all about it!

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Conran Phone at 22 Shad Thames

Fresh from Japan our new Conran branded mobile phones are here and hanging in our windows at the Conran Head offices in Shad Thames, just behind The Design Museum.

Red, black and sophisticated brown and cream versions hang in the window space as if floating. The miracles of fishing wire…

Wonder how the phone project developed? Check out this cute little film which shows all…

More about the phone

People loving our phone…

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