Monthly Archives: March 2011

Conran: Conran + Ercol = Beautiful furniture

The new Barton range of beautiful, solid-oak furniture, exclusive to The Conran Shop, is the result of a collaboration between two great British names: Terence Conran and Ercol.

Designed by Terence and manufactured by Ercol, the range includes an extending dining table, sideboard, armoire, media unit, free-standing shelving, a coffee table and nested side tables.

As Terence says: “It’s modest furniture. There are refreshingly few bells and whistles in the range. But this simplicity belies a clever use of myriad geometric shapes and a wonderfully natural finish”

Beautiful and useful – just what it’s all about!

Check out The Conran Shop blog for more details and how to buy…

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Conran: *Stop Press* Exciting new collaboration with M&S

You might already have heard the very exciting announcement this morning about our new collaboration with M&S. Here’s Terence and M&S CEO Marc Bolland – one of  the ‘official’ shots.

The new Conran Exclusive Design Only at M&S collection will form the basis of the M&S Contemporary homewares offer and will include a wide range of home products incorporating furniture, bedding, lighting and kitchenware.

It’s been all steam ahead behind the scenes for Terence and the team from Conran & Company making sure we hit some very tight deadlines for launching our first ‘Preview Collection’ into 25 M&S stores and online this Autumn.

An early sketch meeting

An early development meeting in the Conran & Company studio

Designed by Conran in collaboration with M&S product developers, the collection will retain the quality and value customers expect from M&S, coupled with our unique Conran design signature.

There will be much more about this here and on our websites in the next few weeks and months so keep coming back for news and developments.

...but what's inside the file?!

..and make sure you clear some space at home in time for September 2011 – when the first wave of Conran products hit the shelves with more lines to follow from Spring 2012 onwards…

There’s some fabulous stuff coming through!


Filed under Conran & Company, Conran Exclusive Design Only at M&S Collection, TERENCE CONRAN

Conran: Q&A with ‘Designer of the Year’ Sam Wilkinson

We’ve caught up with Sam Wilkinson, designer of the Plumen Light bulb which has just won ‘Designs of the Year’  – known as ‘the oscars of the design world’ to those in the trade – at the Design Museum.

Sam is an old Conran friend having worked here on a couple of projects over the last year and we are delighted his and product company Hulger’s design has won. Here’s Sam on the right pictured here with Michael-George Hemus of Hulger.

What gave you the idea for the Plumen light bulb?

The idea of doing a ‘designer’ lightbulb originally came from Hulger in 2007, who then approached me to design it. Most low energy bulbs have such a cold form as if designed by an engineer. We aimed to put a little ‘joy’ back into the form.

The shapes were inspired by patterns made by a rhythmic gymnasts ribbon and filaments of early incandescent bulbs.

How does it feel to win ‘Designs of the Year’?

It is very exciting. It was a bit of a surprise to even win our category as we were up against some amazing products including the Ipad and Dyson fan.

What other pieces from ‘Designs of the Year’ did you like or admire?

I really like Thomas Heatherwick’s UK pavilion and the Branca Chair by Industrial facility

What’s your favourite piece of design?

Always a very difficult question, as its always changing. I love the Bouroullecs ‘Slow’ chair for Vitra. It’s beautiful, lightweight and very technical due to its special knitted sling fabric.

What are you working on at the moment (if you can say!)?

Working on quite a few pieces, including a chair, candelabra, parasol, credenza and some new lights. Also a new production version of the Vessel light for DecodeLondon will launch soon.

What would be your dream project?

To work on a project with Vitra would be amazing or to work some large scale project like a hotel, where I can design the environment as well as the furniture!

Find out more about Sam and his work at

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Conran: Lido gets Grade II* Listed!

A while back you might remember some posts about Conran & Partners helping to Save Saltdean Lido – if not, read all about it here.

Campaigners down in Brighton are overjoyed as their application for Saltdean Lido to achieve an upgrade from a Grade II to Grade II* has been approved by English Heritage and the Heritage & Tourism Minister John Penrose.

Saltdean Lido was the first lido in the country to achieve listed status in 1987. The future of the building was put in serious jeopardy when the current private lease-holder announced plans last year to partially demolish the site and build residential units in its place.

Cue Conran: Save Saltdean Lido Campaign began working our very own Conran & Partners last year who have helped develop an alternative plan which would see the water of the swimming pool heated using renewable energy sources, a cafe/bistro to enjoy the magnificent rotunda area, modernised meeting rooms for community groups and private hire and an overhaul of the external grounds to create other facilities such as a volleyball court and children’s play area.

The upgrade of the listing of Saltdean Lido to Grade II* further illustrates its national significance. It is now officially one of the UKs finest 1930s buildings and its best lido. There is no debate to be had regarding its future, it needs careful and sensitive restoration and to be run by people who will nurture and cherish this asset – Paul Zara, Conran & Partners…

Good work C&P! Roll on Summer…

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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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Filed under Conran and London, TERENCE CONRAN

Conran: Content by Conran mixes it up for Spring

Spring is in the air!

Keep an eye out for Content by Conran‘s new range including these bright and colourful ‘hybrid’ upholstered pieces finished in fresh, graphic prints in limes and yellows. This Matador love seat is definitely a favourite.

Find out more at Content by Conran.

Coming up in the next few weeks, we will be taking a behind the scenes look at how we develop our new upholstery designs and just what it takes to put our beautiful new brochure together from choosing fabrics to propping photo shoots.

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Conran: What’s going on in the Conran windows..?

There’s usually something of interest going on in the large, airy reception space at our Head Office here in Shad Thames.

Whether it’s fully made up beds to promote new designs from our Bed by Conran bedlinen collection or a window full of fresh, flowering plants and shrubs to highlight Terence’s PLANTING and Eco House books, we always like to do something to inspire clients, staff, guests and passers-by – showing everyone what we have been up to.

This time it’s the turn of our exciting new iPod dock, the first product in the Conran Audio range.

As well as looking great – unsuprisingly they sound pretty good too. Developed with industry leaders Armour Home Electronics the docks have fabulous sound quality and a load of user-friendly settings including a magnetic remote control (so you’ll never lose it again!), Bluetooth streaming and a pivoting cradle allowing both portrait and landscape screen options.

The docks and packaging were designed by Studio Conran. Cute speech bubbles containing each of the dock’s easy-to-use characteristics are a feature of the box.

We thought we would blow these bubbles up – so to speak- and have them on our windows – above a shelf of docks and their carry-case boxes.

Of course we had to actually play something on these fabulous docks – and who best to choose than people from our very own building!

Three brave souls stepped forward to showcase their musical talents; Josh Beach, Head of Conran Contracts – a bit of a whizz on the ivories; Tania Betley, from The Conran Shop – and her band, Austin; and Conran Holdings Financial Director Joshua Mwatsama – who’s likely to be spinning decks as a DJ when he’s not getting stuck into spreadsheets…

Find out more about their music…

If you like the look of the dock you can buy one here or feel free to pop by and check out the sound quality for yourself! Conran, 22 Shad Thames, London SE1 2YU

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Filed under Conran & Company, Conran and London, STUDIO CONRAN, THE CONRAN SHOP

Conran: All about The Conran Shop

Just in case you haven’t been keeping up with all the exicting things going on at The Conran Shop via their blog Conran Talking Shop we thought we would give you a little summary…

The rolling exhibition of hand picked British designer makers continues this month with Joanna Gilmore who is showcasing her beautiful baskets.

Joanna is the fifth artist to be showcased in our Handcrafted in Britain selling exhibition.

Her dramatic career change was inspired by an exhibition about Native American basket makers at Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum of Ethnology.

Read more about it here…

Springtime is here again – and with it bright and beautiful new windows at The Conran Shop in Fulham Road inspired by Japanese Blossom festivals.

Read more about the latest window transformation here

Why not pop into our Marylebone and Fulham Road stores and have a look at what The Conran Shop spring collections can offer you…

They do a particularly good line of things to help you with the inevitable Spring Clean – if an item is useful it should also be beautiful….


Filed under Conran and London, THE CONRAN SHOP

Conran: Meet the team – Afshin Mehin, Product Designer, Studio Conran

Who are we all anyway?

In these posts you can find out a little more about us…

Lorraine Brennan, Head of Business Development for Conran & Company, was the last to be featured – now here’s one of our fabulous product designers from Studio Conran, Afshin Mehin...

What’s your role here at Conran?

I’m a Senior Product Designer in StudioConran.

What were you doing before you joined Conran?

I just recently moved back to London. I was working for the last 6 years in California, most recently at IDEO in San Francisco. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed the optimism in California, but missed the critical design culture of London. I headed back to London last year, and was doing a bit of freelance work for studios like Barber Osgerby before joining StudioConran. It’s really great to be back!

Velocitek Sailing Speedometer, 2010

Where did you study?

Here in London, at the RCA. I studied industrial design but was interested in how electronic products could be designed in ways that could feel more sympathetic and delightful. So I did an internship at M.I.T.’s Media Lab in Dublin where I had a chance to explore this further. In California, this interest grew into a more commercial focus.

What do you love most about your job?

The opportunity to design objects that people will hold onto for a long time. People have the potential to invest personal meaning and value in objects over time and I am particularly interested in how technology products can move away from being throw away consumables to objects that people keep and love.

What are you interested in now?

My family is Iranian and I grew up in Canada though I’ve worked in the UK and the US. My cultural identity is complex and I am interested in how design can respond to this by merging and sculpting multiple aesthetics in ways that are both relevant to me and the products I design.

Vudu Remote Control, 2007

What’s the most interesting project you’ve ever worked on?

The most interesting project that I’ve worked on so far was the Olympic torch for the 2012 London Olympics. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work on a product that will live on for years to come.

I’m also excited about the tactile audio speakers I’ve been designing as a way to have technological products integrate with daily life,  allowing them to become just as familiar as furniture.

Read more about Afshin’s work at Conran next week…

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Filed under One of our regulars: Meet the team, STUDIO CONRAN