White goods no longer

Jared Mankelow, Senior Product Designer at Conran Studio, spent last week amongst the fridges and flatscreens at consumer electronics show IFA Berlin. He kindly offered to share his thoughts on where are homes are headed.

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On South Place

We’re delighted to spill just a few of the beans on our latest project: South Place Hotel.

South Place is D&D London’s first hotel. Perhaps unsurprisingly given their pedigree in restaurants, South Place will be “as much about meet and eat as sleep”, to quote General Manager Bruce Robertson. It will feature two restaurants and three bars, as well as its 80 stylish guest rooms.

South Place Hotel

A peek inside the South Place Hotel

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Friday Tip: We’re bad at keeping secrets

This week’s Friday Tip comes from Orla, one of Conran Studio‘s brand design team.


You may have heard of Secret Cinema, the themed pop-up cinema experience which involves a lot of dressing up and just as much fun. Last December, the team behind Secret Cinema opened a pop-up restaurant along similar lines, ingeniously titled Secret Restaurant.

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Good enough to eat in

Are kitchens the purely functional places they once were? Jared Mankelow doesn’t think so.

Rather, as our formal rules of dining have broken down, kitchens have become social hubs, folding in the dining room and living room, too.

To that end, Conran Studio‘s Senior Product Designer has written the following piece on the evolving role of the kitchen – and what that means for kitchen design.

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Design crimes at Clerkenwell

Bad design is an inevitability, and and in one way designers should be thankful for it: for good design to be recognised as such, we need bad design.

But, for those of us who believe well-designed things make the world a slightly better place, encountering bad design can be painful.

What’s worse is when bad designs come back to haunt us. For example: weren’t NHS spectacles bad enough the first time?

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Adrenaline junkies: Emma Booty on coffee and cars

Emma Booty is the Creative Director of Conran Studio, our product and brand design team, and resident brand-building expert.

Emma Booty

Last month, she spoke at the Interior Motives China conference in Beijing – a major gathering for the Chinese domestic car design industry.

Cutting through the petrol fumes with typical panache, Emma regaled a 350-strong audience with a story about coffee.

Bear with her…

…un piccolo momento di piacere” – in drab English, a small moment of pleasure.

As designers, we’re interested in transforming items of necessity into such moments.

But how?

Britons, on average, spend £3 a day on takeaway coffee.

£3 a day makes a £5 billion business, and a greater household expense than the gas bill.

Until 1994, the coffee shop market was relatively immature – the baristas wore baseball caps, and served lacklustre pints of weak, sweet, American-style coffee. Did you know that the French call American coffee jus des chausetttes – literally, ‘sock juice’?

Then something changed. There was an infusion of Antipodean personality into the British (and especially the London) coffee scene. An infusion of social ease. The emphasis was no longer on the utility of a caffeine fix, but the luxury of a moment of pleasure.

Coffee shops started to say something about us: bright, confident, sexy, energetic. The market diversified – not just Italian-American, but Australian, British and Scandinavian. There was a new confidence in national personality.

With it came a natural increase in quality.

The American stalwarts took note of this shift – and tried to inject a little personality of their own.

What does this mean for the Chinese car market?

…un piccolo momento di piacere” – a move away from necessity.

Cars are more than appliances, more than status symbols. They represent a way of living.

As the Chinese car market matures, cars will evolve from necessity to lifestyle choice.

How will China influence the rest of the world?

By infusing design with Chinese personality – with themes of economy, family values and respect.

Just as Australian social ease was an authentic fit for coffee shop culture, so these Chinese values fit plumb into the new, leaner automotive industry.


Filed under STUDIO CONRAN, TRADE SHOWS AND EXHIBITIONS, Where do you find design inspiration?

Where do you find design inspiration?

In the first post of a new column here on the Conran blog looking at where we find design inspiration, Will Unwin, a product designer from Studio Conran, tells us more about the mysterious and beautiful place he finds his…

In the creative industry it is only a matter of time before we experience what I like to call ‘a dry spell’. Of course I am talking about those little ideas that eventually end up allowing good design to be exactly that: good design!

This begs the question, where can we get design inspiration? Some people may get it by looking at that object in their home from a different angle, some people might get it from talking to their friends, or maybe it just hits you while you’re on the tube. Whatever your method, can I suggest a new one?

Before returning to work at Conran in August this year, I spent the previous 5 months exploring South America. Since then I have come to the conclusion that my inspiration cannot be found on the underground, but instead lies in a far away land. The land I am talking about in particular is Antarctica.

After making the biggest impulse reaction of my life, I blew the majority of my hard earned savings on a boat trip across the Drake Passage to the unknown continent at the bottom of our planet. I was not prepared for what I saw.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place that provides you with such a diverse range of ideas and inspiration. It’s a place that puts you in the perfect mindset for work. Hopefully some of the below images will help you understand what I mean.

I saw icebergs in shapes I did not know were physically possible; I saw colours I was not aware even existed; I saw combinations of forms that I didn’t think would complement one another- all of which can be used to influence design directly. If any of you budding architects out there are looking for a new form to compete with the soon-to-be-complete London Shard, Antarctica is your place

The landscape is simply stunning. It does things to you like nothing else can. It can relax you or it can energise you. It can calm you as easily as it can excite you. The effects too are long lasting; it’s easy for me to slip away into my memories and when I return I feel somewhat enlightened, ready to attack another design problem.

Speaking of design problems, I think I’ve worked out a design for next winter’s coat collection…

Where do you find your design inspiration?


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Conran: Who knew SALE signs could be so chic?

Studio Conran have just designed some fab new in-store graphics for The Conran Shop sale….no horrible standard SALE signs for us….

Graphic Designer Orla McAvinue explains…


What was the inspiration behind the designs?
The inspiration for the campaign takes cues from Russian Constructivism. Our aim was to create an eye-catching, bold campaign for the stores that would really stand out, be owned by Conran, and differentiate the in store experience from our competitors. From a practical point of view, Continue reading

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Conran: Clerkenwell Design Week Part 1: Emma Booty reports

Clerkenwell Design Week came and went with the clement weather.

This year’s CDW was a merry hotchpotch of old buildings, contemporary and commercial art amid fickle shafts of sunlight and stroppy storm clouds.

The venues themselves reminded us how much as we might admire the individual pieces, none of these objects account for much until they’re in context, cohabiting in this space. None of this was designed to go together and the random coupling was strangely pleasing.

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Conran: Meeting up in style…

What better place to enjoy a cool glass of wine on one of the warmest, sunniest evenings of the year than the rooftop terrace of Terence Conran’s apartment.

And while you’re there why not have a nose around our building and find out a bit more about Conran?

That’s exactly what tempted 40 of the UK’s most eminent design bloggers to join us last night for the first of our blogger’s meet-up events, run in conjunction with our friends over at mydeco.com, the one-stop shop for all your design needs.

We thought it would also be a great opportunity for people to chat to our team and get the lowdown on each part of Conran, whilst having a little look around our studios.

While the team from The Conran Shop chatted to people about some of their hot new products for Spring Summer 2011, down in Studio Conran Bryony Akehurst and Katy Clarke talked the guests through the branding project they did for the healthy cake people Petit Pois and Product Designer Jared Mankelow demonstrated the design process behind our mobile phone which launched in Japan last year, sparking a very interesting discussion on the dying art of hand sketching as a useful exploratory phase at the beginning of the design process.

Interior Designer Jacqui Senior and Architect Nico Santarelli showed bloggers around our Architecture & Interiors floor, Conran & Partners talking about the breadth of interior design we have done all over the world and the massive new redevelopment project Conran & Partners have just completed in Tokyo (more next week…).

All very interesting stuff and lots of questions asked!

In Conran & Company project manager Holly-Anne Rolfe and textile designer Lâle Güralp gave the bloggers a quick tour around their office, showcasing some of the Conran branded product they help develop including brand new bedlinen designs from Bed by Conran and Conran Fine Bedlinen which are just about to hit the shops – books, colour and inspiration galore.

Plus much interest in the beautiful collection of prints of paintbrush collections which Terence bought as a book and framed years ago which have adorned the walls of the office since it was Terence’s a few years ago (he’s now just across the hallway).

There’s already been a few reports posted up there in the big, bold, blogosphere…

there’s one here at youmightlikethis.com – (thanks!)

Watch this space – we hope to have many more meet-ups in the future….enjoy the sun!



Filed under Conran & Company, Conran & Partners, Conran and London, Conran Contracts, CONRAN HISTORY, CONTENT BY CONRAN, INTERIOR DESIGN, STUDIO CONRAN, TERENCE CONRAN, THE CONRAN SHOP