Tag Archives: Roger Mavity CEO

Friday Tip: A thousand words

We have a few keen photographers at Conran Towers: Yannick, an architect at Conran and Partners, makes short films with his brother, and our CEO Roger Mavity takes some remarkable fine art pictures.

Sam and Stephen, Conran Singh‘s resident shutterbugs, recommended Edward Burtynsky’s acclaimed ‘OIL’ show at The Photographers’ Gallery for this week’s Friday Tip. The show explores our relationship with the black gold on which we rely, and the landscapes the oil industry leaves behind.

Edward Burtynsky's OIL

One of Edward Burtynsky’s breathtaking oil landscapes

It closes on 1st July, so this is very much your last chance.

If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, you could also check out The Conran Shop’s summer sale

Happy weekend everyone!

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CEO speaks: in defence of risk

We live in a risk-averse world. As time rolls belligerently onwards, less and less of the things we do and the decisions we make are risky. Playgrounds are safer; we have health insurance and smoke alarms.

This is mostly good news – where we sacrifice nothing, reducing risk is common sense. For example, few would argue that the addition of airbags and crumple zones to our cars has been a bad thing.

But risk has benefits, too. Doesn’t dating lose a frisson of excitement if we have found out everything there is to know about our date online beforehand? Would skydiving hold the same appeal if the sport wasn’t inherently dangerous? From marriage proposals to angel investments, the riskiest decisions are often the the most lucrative. They are also often the ones that change the world.

Over the years, companies have spent more and more money on market research, the so-called science of probing the hopes and dreams of the consumer through polling, panelling and psychological profiling. Their objective is the reduction of risk.

No doubt, the techniques have become more subtle over the years, but the success of market research – or ‘consumer insight’, as it is now more sexily known – is at best sporadic. A quote attributed probably apocryphally to Henry Ford illustrates the problem:

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” 

The point is this: consumer behaviour tomorrow cannot necessarily be inferred from consumer behaviour today, because people don’t know what they want.

Roger Mavity, Conran CEO

Roger Mavity, CEO, Conran

At Conran, we think there are serious limits to what market research can do. In fact, to designers, market research present its own kind of risk, because the work of a committee seldom has the spark of the work of an individual. The product that is rigorously research-tested may well end up inoffensive to everyone, and brilliant to none.

Our CEO, Roger Mavity, spoke on this very topic at the Cheltenham Design Festival last month. Taking to the stage with Stephen Bayley, co-author of his bestselling book Life’s a Pitch, Roger gave a passionate defence of risk.

As John Steinbeck put it, “the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world”.

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Move over Milan: the Cheltenham Design Festival is here

So it’s Milan Design Week, the time of year when the more fortunate souls in the design industry jet off to sip Prosecco, wear outsize sunglasses and generally lark about in the sunshine (we can only assume).

Those of us left in London are rattling round with faces black as thunder, drenched to our skins, wincing every time we check Twitter. Ho hum. We’ll have a report from the lucky Conranners in Milan next week.

In the meantime, we shouldn’t be too downhearted, for the last laugh is ours: the inaugural Cheltenham Design Festival kicks off tomorrow, promising all the style – if not the weather – of Milan. There will be talks from industry luminaries, from advertising legend Sir John Hegarty to master graphic design Stefan Sagermeister.

Conran has a showing, too: our CEO, Roger Mavity, will be on stage on Saturday with design critic Stephen Bayley, talking about the art of pitching ideas. You can book tickets here.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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Mavity on the Move…

When your chief executive takes 3 days holiday in April, where does he go and what does he do?

Is it a private jet to a luxurious hideaway, perhaps in Venice or maybe the South of France?  Sadly not.  It was a flight to Helsinki to speak at a conference arranged by the Finnish government to help their export drive.  They naively thought that the author of ‘Life’s a Pitch…’ might inspire them to present their export offer more persuasively.  So your balding hero jetted off to Helsinki, home of herrings and hypothermia, to do his bit.

It was my first time in Finland, and I fell in love.  The people are calm and relaxed, the air is crisp and clear, and the landscape is an endless vista of beautiful silver birches, tall and slender, reaching up to a blue and unpolluted sky.

The Finns were charming hosts.  They put me up in a nice hotel right by the harbour (definitely the most romantic part of Helsinki), made me welcome, and were even polite about my book and my speech.  Caring about design is very much part of Finnish culture (don’t forget that Alvar Aalto was a Finn) so they were fascinated by all things Conran.  I felt at home.

I did eat a lot of herrings. And cod. And hake. And halibut. And mussels.  But I like fish, so that was no hardship.

As for the weather, it reminded me of Billy Connolly’s quip that “Scotland has two seasons – winter and June.”  But the people are warm even if the climate isn’t.  If they asked me again I’d go again.

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