Monthly Archives: October 2010

Conran: Winter Warmers at Boundary

With November just around the corner and Christmas approaching fast it suddenly feels very much like winter is already upon us.

Henrik Ritzen and the rest of the team at Boundary Restaurant have plenty of ideas to keep us fed and entertained as the cold weather rolls in, including introducing hearty French regional favourites, including a fabulous cassoulet, to their menu to sit alongside the more elegant French classics.

The stage is also set for Autumn Game and for truffle season – starting on the 4th Nov…

In fact, if you fancy a taster head down to Boundary on Wednesday, 3rd November for  a unique opportunity to meet one of the world’s top winemakers and enjoy a special white truffle and Italian red wine dinner.

Mon Dieu!

Henrik Ritzen, Boundary Restaurant Head Chef

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Conran: Azhar on Architecture: Airport Terminal Building, Riga, Latvia

Recently we completed a proposal for an airport project, “The Terminal Building” at Riga Airport for airBaltic which is to be the first designed, built, financed and operated passenger terminal in Europe.We were inspired by a series of concepts:

1.      Uniqueness of Place: Baltic, Latvia, Riga

2.      Poetry of Nature: Air, Land, Water

3.      Poetry of Engineering: A turbine blade from a Rolls Royce Concorde jet engine!

These were interpreted to create a series of overlaid elements, the roof being the principle architectural element, which is formed to respond to the main purpose of an airport, namely, departing or arriving!

Our spatial design was developed by creating a parametric model of the roof, which transforms from a straight bladelike form to a curved blade form, directly inspired by the turbine blade. The blade was used as an inspiration object which represented the ideal of not only a high performance engineered component but also an aesthetically beautiful form.

The roof forms “light scars” which provide natural glare free daylight and non-potable water is captured from the roof and is used for toilet flushing and washing the airplanes!

The Terminal building sits in a rectangular water body, representing an abstraction of the Baltic, which acts as an amenity, a security device and a sustainable cooling source.  Not only does the water body provide evaporative cooling but in the winter it freezes and can be used for ice skating!

The Car Park in front of the Terminal also has a number of sustainable energy features including the use of Solar Photovoltaic lighting, a permeable surface paving for water attenuation and a ground source heat pump providing heating and cooling.

We sought to achieve the objectives of the airBaltic brief by reconciling the need to create an ambitious design response while providing a robust commercial solution. One of the main issues for dealing with the layout was to deal with the passenger numbers, which are forecast to over 7.2mppa by 2015 when the peak capacity of approximately 40 air traffic movements per hour at the runway will be reached. In response to this, Conran & Partner’s proposal created a gross floor area of 60,000m².

We worked closely with the engineering team to create what we believe is a sensitive, integrated design strategy. Together with a range of passive and active environmental measures we created a response, which both respected and reflected the aspirations of airBaltic as a company.

This project represents Conran & Partners commitment to infrastructure projects and creating buildings which respond to the need for intelligent sustainable buildings.

C&P Design Team: Azhar, Philip Thornton, Kaori Yamomoto

C&P Graphics: Felix Gannon

C&P Visualisation: Francesco Nicolardi, Daniel Gill

Buro Happold Engineering & Sustainability: Dan Philips, Mark Dowson, Luke Epp, Willa Straker-Smith

Buro Happold Aviation: Alan Regan

Please contact for more details about this project

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Conran: Out and About with Conran & Company: The Fabric works of Louise Bourgeois

Holly-Anne Rolfe from Conran & Company gives us a little insight into the inspiration behind some of the Conran branded textiles ranges..

Last year, when coming up with concepts and ideas for our Conran Fine Linen range – inspired by premium hotels and the longevity of family heirlooms – it was love at first sight when we spied Louise Bourgeois’s textiles in an issue of Selvedge, one of our favourite magazines.

Beautiful in their graphic simplicity, handmade grace, perfect construction and sophisticated colour palettes they were integral to quite a few of our designs which eventually hit the shops last year.

So when I noticed that there was an exhibition of her fabric works at Hauser and Wirth gallery on until the 18th December I had to pop in and take a look…

Appropriately for this textile-based show the gallery is in Savile Row, the home of fine shirts and premium tailoring, whose traditional shirting fabrics, ticking cloths and trims have long been an inspiration for the team here for many of our branded textiles ranges.

Bed by Conran - 'Jermyn'

The exhibition features over seventy fabric drawings made between 2002 and 2008, as well as four large-scale sculptures.

My absolute favourite were 12 pictures collectively entitled ‘The Waking Hours’ from 2007, only three years before her death. The precision of the patchwork compositions in stunning gradients of colour – predominantly  teals, sea blues and navys – is utterly beautiful and the 12 pieces seem to play out a simple narrative – which we can presumably look to the title of the work to help explain.

Not something you see everyday but blimey would I like to have those hanging on my bedroom wall…

We are currently working on the development of the Autumn/Winter 2011 collection of fine linens so watch this space and see if you can spot any Bourgeois-style ideas on the shelves in a year or so!

The exhibition is on from the 15 October – 18 December 2010 at Hauser & Wirth London, Savile Row

Hauser & Wirth London,
Savile Row, 23 Savile Row, London W1S 2ET

Gallery hours:

Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm

Location map

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Conran: What would you ask Terence Conran…?

From opening Habitat and throwing off the drab austerity of post-war Britain to bringing the duvet to the UK, changing London’s restaurant scene forever and making the chicken brick one of Britain’s best loved products, he is one of Britain’s best known designers, retailers and restauranteurs.

Now, thanks to The Conran Shop blog you can ask Terence a question about his life in design which began over 50 years ago…

We are inviting readers of the Talking Shop blog, fellow bloggers and The Conran Shop’s Twitter followers and Facebook fans to send Terence a question via the Share your thoughts panel on the blog.

Check out The Conran Shop’s blog today for more information.

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Conran: Potters Fields watch: The Big Draw – Something for the weekend!

It’s always good to see the value of drawing is still upheld by many people despite the predominance of digitally aided art and design tools. After all it’s often the best way of getting ideas down onto paper and working through problems – and where would we be without Terence’s sketches of famous pieces of furniture like the Glove  or Matador chairs and other iconic designs from the last half a century…?

Every October The Big Draw brings hundreds of drawing initiatives to galleries and streets all over the world.

Launched in 2000, it has has grown from 180 events in the UK to over 1500 worldwide. The Campaign aims to use drawing to connect visitors with museum and gallery collections, urban and rural spaces – and the wider community – in new and enjoyable ways.

As part of the event today, on Potters Fields – sandwiched between Tower Bridge and the London Mayor’s Office, and 10 mins from Conran HQ – trestle tables were strewn with vast rolls of paper whilst people of all ages adorned them with colourful murals, scribbles and sketches.

Performers struck a pose ready to be drawn by passers-by and pictures of seasonal produce – bold forms in bright colours – fluttered from a washing line in the October breeze, all proving people still enjoy good old fashioned drawing as much as ever.

Having said all that about the digital stuff not always being so good there is this very fun game you can play online.

Here’s a couple of efforts from a few of us here and here but please note – this in no way an indication of the talents or tendancies of the Conran Group!

Find out more about events near you:

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Conran: Sneak Peak: New CONRAN AUDIO iPod dock.

The team here from Conran & Company are constantly working on developing new CONRAN branded products from furniture to bedlinen, towels to tablecloths, coffee pots to eyewear.

There are quite a few new exciting products in the pipeline and here’s one of the latest – the first product in the CONRAN AUDIO range – an iPod dock, due in store in February 2011.

If you are a technie then brace yourself: it’s got high quality audio engineered by Q Acoustics and features two 75mm bass/mid drivers plus a pair of 30mm tweeters and can deliver a total of 30 watts of power. Phew.

So it’s basically a very good sound system but because it’s Conran and been designed by Studio Conran it’s been deliberately conceived to be different from all other iPod docks – the focus is on incredibly stylish and yet understated design, offering a elegant alternative for a relaxed living space.

It can play audio wirelessly via Bluetooth so, as Terence puts it: “you can select songs from the comfort of an armchair, or, if it’s your thing whilst dancing around the room…”

The dock assembly rotates, so video on iPhones and iPod Touches can be watched in landscape mode while listening to the Speaker Dock. It also has six preset equaliser settings which each suit different types of music and comes with its own remote control that cleverly fits into a magnetic recess in the side of the dock meaning you should never lose the remote down the side of the aforementionned armchair ever again…

Read more about it

The CONRAN AUDIO I-dock is compatible with all iPods and will be available in the shops and online from February 2011…


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Conran: Green architecture that raises the spirit of a community

It’s all steam ahead on Conran & Partner’s new green housing project in Ealing.

Back in September C&P were granted outline planning permission for the masterplan and detailed planning consent for phase one of the regeneration of the Green Man Lane Estate scheme which includes 154 new homes, enterprise employment units, new roads and parking spaces, a playspace for children, a community café and an energy centre to provide energy-efficient heating and energy to the new neighbourhood.

A visualisation of the scheme

Paul Zara is leading the project for C&P

“The redevelopment of Green Man Lane is of vital importance both to the area and to the people that live there. The opportunity to provide high quality homes for the current residents alongside new homes for sale and rent is a great responsibility and one that we have taken very seriously. We want this to be outstanding architecture that raises the spirits of those who live there. Our aim is to set new standards in Ealing and create a place where people will be proud to be a resident.”

It’s all about the people: residents, neighbours and other stakeholders have worked for over a year with the regeneration team to help shape plans for the project, giving their input into a range of areas including design, community regeneration and neighbourhood management.

The regeneration team also includes local housing provider A2Dominion and developer Rydon.

All in all a great team effort. We will be watching the developments with interest…

Read more about it on Conran & Partners website


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Conran: Out and About: The Museum of Everything and Tomoko Azumi

Occasionally we do manage to get out and stretch our legs a little…

Here’s Silas Swinstead from Conran Contracts on the opening night of Freize last week…

Despite a queue stretching around the corner onto Primrose Hill High Street, I was lucky enough to be one of the first to see the latest incarnation of The Musuem of Everything.

A sensory feast of surreal taxidermy, folk music and art, circus style performance art and vintage photography… This is the 3rd exhibition by this mysterious collective and it’s opening party was a firm fixture in this years Freize calendar. Open for the next 3 months and not to be missed.

Also one to watch out for is ‘Objective’ at Rocket gallery – the first gallery exhibition of Japanese designer Tomoko Azumi.

Featuring work from 1995 to the present day, this small, well curated exhibition displays both finished work including Hexad tables, Table-Chest and Shingle chests, alongside scale and full size models, giving more information about Azumi’s working methods.

The exhibition also shows Azumi’s new Joint dining table, a collaboration with Rocket, Terence’s furniture factory Benchmark and Azumi.

On until the 20th November, this is worth a visit if you’re in the area.



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Conran: A new Director at Conran and Partners

Some more news from Conran & Partners Brighton Office….

Conran’s south coast success has been consolidated by the promotion of architect Lee Davies, who now joins the Board of Conran & Partners.

Lee set up the Brighton office in 2007 and has been key to winning major new projects, including Green Man Lane in Ealing and the redevelopment of Walthamstow Stadium.  Between them these projects will provide over 1000 new homes.

Fellow director Paul Zara comments ‘As well as being possibly the nicest man in the world, Lee is a brilliant architect and a great manager of people. He has strong relationships with his clients and manages to juggle this with helping to bring up his three young boys. He is a very strong addition to Team Conran’.

Read Lee’s post on the regeneration of Saltdean Lido

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Conran Columns: Azhar on Architecture: New London Architecture

Up on the Roof of 22 Shad Thames

Last Thursday evening our building here at Shad Thames played host to the great and the good from the world of Regeneration and Investment.

The soiree, hosted by Terence and Conran & Partners, marked the culmination of “Investing in Southwark”, a day of talks and tours organised by NLA (New London Architecture).

The day started life upstream at Tate Modern with a series of talks opened by Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council, and chaired by Peter Bill of the Evening Standard.

In the morning session, we were given insights from Richard Rawes on “Unlocking Regeneration”, James Sellar, the CEO of Sellar group on spearheading the Shard of Glass by Renzo Piano, and Rupert Robinson, Head of Regeneration at KPMG, who gave a very informative talk on “Attracting Investors”. After elevenses, a range of speakers touched on the exciting prospects for Elephant & Castle, Transport, Canada Water and the future of Peckham and Camberwell.

These were followed by ‘Guided Tours’ around pertinent areas of interest within the borough including Elephant & Castle and Aylesbury (led by Jon Abbott), the new development at Bermondsey Spa and Canada Water (led by Tim Thompson), and London Bridge & Bankside (led by Dan Taylor).

I joined the bus to Bermondsey Spa and Canada Water; a tour led by Tim Thompson (Southwark). We were treated to a fascinating talk from the ever stylish Piers Gough of CZWG who are currently on site with the Library building. I do think the whole perception of distance in London is so distorted, and am always surprised how close to the centre of London Canada Water really is.


Azhar introducing Paul Zara and Sir Terence (inexplicably holding a kitchen knife!)


After the “grand” tours, the delegates headed to “The Apartment”, to discuss the day’s findings over a glass or two. The apartment is situated on the top floor of the Conran Building in Shad Thames, in the heart of one of the UK’s (arguably Europe’s) very best regeneration projects, Butlers Wharf.

I introduced our first speaker, Paul Zara, Director at Conran & Partners who was there right at the beginning of the Butlers Wharf story. Paul talked about how a forgotten part of London had been nurtured into an icon of urban regeneration and mixed-use living and how, through the drive for a high quality public realm, Butlers Wharf became a reality!


Sir Terence speaking about the origins of Conran & Partners, and insights into the creation of Butlers Wharf


With high anticipation, Sir Terence took charge of the microphone, clutching an old copy of the Architects Journal with a front cover showing the late Fred Roche, the co-founder of the architecture practice, Conran Roche, which latterly became Conran & Partners. He recounted with passion the journey they took in creating Butlers Wharf, a ‘new’ part of the city. Anecdotes, such as how the Estate Agents said, “Nobody would ever cross the river!” and how there was no confidence in a “mixed-use” development, flowed…… How wrong they were!


Sir Terence speaking to Peter Murray, nursing a few bruises from his recent charity cycle ride to Brussels!


Credits and many thanks to:

Debbie Whitfield, New London Architecture

Dan Taylor, LB Southwark

Photos kindly provided by Agnese Sanvito

A full list of the day’s proceedings is on the NLA website

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