Tag Archives: LONDON

Conran: Out and about with Conran: The latest from LDF 2010

Last night saw the exclusive retail launch of the new Emeco 111 Navy chair at The Conran Shop in Fulham Road. The chair is made from 111 recycled coca-cola bottles – not just a clever name. Read more about the launch here on The Conran Shop blog.

Everyone’s talking about LDF’s new exhibition, Tramshed, on Rivington Street in Shoreditch, a collaborative showcase of authentic high-end design brands. Terence’s furniture company Benchmark are among them. Craftsmen from the company are working in a temporary workshop making a range of furniture from domestic pieces to commercial projects, demonstrating their specialist skills in both woodworking and metalworking. Very exciting. Read more about it here on the Benchmark blog.

Benchmark at Tramshed

LDF isn’t all about the Southbank, South Kensington or Shoreditch – events are happening all over the capital – Emma Weber from Studio Conran happened across something interesting whilst out for dinner…

Yesterday night I had a magical dinner at the Wapping Project – by chance the design festival was also running ‘Trust Me’, an exhibition by Antwerp-based graphic designer Paul Boudens.

The work was presented in a large scale box covering the inside walls and flooring. Posters, book spreads, prints and invitations covered the entire space. His work for the fashion world such as Dries Van Noten, Yohi Yamamoto, The MoMu – Fashion Museum Antwerp, Jurgi Persoons and Oliver Theyskens has a human feel to it, he uses paint amongst other materials and the work has a sensitivity that makes it less ephemeral than other graphic designs in the world of fashion.

They have some great posters for only £5 on sale, well worth a look.

Paul Boudens at The Wapping Project

Of course no LDF is complete without parties…Silas Swinstead from Conran Contracts is our regular man about town…

Design week, or LDF as I recently discovered it is now referred to – perhaps to keep up with LFW – is usually a blur of samey showroom parties fuelled by way too much champagne, European lager or in my case GnT – ‘my case’ being that of a contract furniture salesman in the employ of Conran. Our multitude of International suppliers means there are no shortage of people to meet and greet at these events, and by now the new designs shown at Milan way back in the Spring are all too familiar.

This Design week however had something unusual; not only a brand new showroom, but a brand new product being launched from within its four walls. Just off Shoreditch High Street is renowned Interior Designer Lee Broom’s new studio and showspace, a necessity now he has expanded his creativity into product design. Being launched was the OLO collection, or One Light Only, the second string to Lee’s commercial lighting bow. The first being Decanter Lights, which we have already provided to a well known restaurant chain for a concept location, and it’s clear the OLO will have no shortage of interest from the A&D community and retail world alike.

Every year one of the highlights of Design Week has to be the Capellini Party, for the last two years at The Poltrona Frau Group’s Barber Osgerby designed space on St. John Street. On arrival I was greeted by the familiar faces of the Conran fraternity, nestled in our very own Proust Geometrica chair, supplied to the Big Brother House of 2009. Being asked to supply Endemol with this iconic piece of furniture was a true eye opener to the capabilities of supplying to the contract market.

What else is there to do at LDF? Too much to shake a hand-turned, ergonomically designed, made-from-wood-from-a-sustainable-source stick at.

What about having a look at Tent 2010?

Or what about Origin – the best craft show in town – at its new home in Spitalfields market. (Did we mention our very own Jill Webb was a judge this year?)

Or Designers Block at Oxo Tower Wharf (more about that on Monday…)

Enjoy it!


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Terence responds to Booty on Brands and shares his love affair with Monsieur Bibendum


Dear Booty Brand,

 In my opinion  Monsieur Bibendum, Michelin’s brand, is the best brand ever.  Entirely flexible and full of humour, it always looks up to date and has done over the last century. Monsieur Bibendum has always held an emotional meaning for me.  Whilst on Brands, perhaps this is the moment to express my disappointment that after working literally night and day for over a week to produce a Brand for London and finally reaching the last two, silence descended on the Mayor’s Office.  Boris silent? A small leak  indicated that we were the chosen design but nothing more – desperately unfair to the hardworking candle burning designers who were so excited about the project and as for the management, totally bemused by the lack of professionalism in the Mayor’s Office.


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Conran: Our Creative City

The last few days reminded us once again of how great it is to be in London as the city continues on its path to being the most creative Capital in the world.

Holly-Anne Rolfe from our Brand Development team, Conran & Company, takes us on a short tour of two fabulous events she visited yesterday that could only take place in our great City.

First off a meeting near the Clerkenwell Design Week event meant I could take a look around the open-air displays and exhibitions and see lots of things I had been reading about since the Milan Furniture Fair last month.

I loved the branding for the Design Week this year, really fun, and it’s so nice to see a creative community ‘at work’.

Wandering past St John’s Square I was drawn in by a man on an old Routemaster and the Forest of Lights installation of giant floor lamps showcasing new illustrations from some of the most cutting edge illustrators around.

I recognised the ice cream cloud van from last year’s RCA graduate show – although this time they seemed to be without a vital ingredient.

The new Nissan cube on display also provided another Conran memory: our redesign of this classic automobile a few years ago.

I was desperate to try the ‘chairless’ after seeing pictures of people sitting cross-legged in these brightly coloured contraptions all over the blogosphere and reading about Natasha from Conran Contracts trying one out in Milan. The Vitra showroom on Clerkenwell Road was full of people looking slightly sheepish as they stepped up to the platform to try this deceptively simple device. It’s pretty good – after a bit of shifting around – and a must for summer festival going.

The Farmiloe building was impressive; a great ex-industrial space perfect for showcasing lots of interesting lighting and furniture. I particularly liked the FlexibleLove models in the courtyard space:  pieces that unfold like an accordion made from recycled materials that can be adapted for small or larger groups, great for impromptu gatherings in the garden.

The Design Museum had a selection of their designers in residence there too – I remembered Asif Khan’s Harvest chair from its time in the Design Museum tank on the riverside near our offices.

Next thing I was whizzing over to West London for the private view of SHOW 1 of this year’s Royal College of Art Graduate Exhibition 2010 sponsored by Terence’s Conran Foundation.

Trying to cross London in a humid rush hour is never fun – especially with no trains going Westbound on the Circle Line.

After an impromptu visit to Edgware Road and a hop on the no 27 bus I entered the RCA building underneath the bright vermillion ‘H’ and was immediately reminded of the last time I set foot in this illustrious institution – when CONRAN sponsored the private view of Show 2 last June which I helped organise. Slightly less stress on this occasion I’m glad to say!

Eleanor Bolton’s bold statement necklaces made from coiled up rope were absolutely gorgeous. A friend made a comment that you’d think could easily sum up these strange objects (‘noose’, I believe) but in actual fact they were delightfully light and squashy to the touch, like those large, spirally marshmallows.

The hybrid objects created by Jasleen Kaur as part of her ‘britesh’ range investigating the cultures of Britain and India were also very intriguing – like a weird 3d version of a consequences game knives and forks were topped or tailed with paint brushes or spoons; a smart pair of city shoes were crossed with flipflops – smart-casual taken to the extreme.

Terence had visited the show earlier in the day and had the following words of advice for our young creatives.

At a time when headlines seem endlessly made by MP’s expenses, bankers bonuses and a failing economy, we need our young artists and designers to shine more brightly than ever. We need you to be optimistic, brave and have a tenacious belief in your work because the creative industries are vital to the UK economy. We want you to be confident and help create a future that works, looks fantastic and has a very human centre.

Free beer this time too – thanks Terence!



28 May – 6 June, 11am–8pm daily, free admission

Ceramics & Glass; Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewellery; Photography and Printmaking

Royal College of Art
Kensington Gore
London SW7 2EU

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Conran on London: The Skyline..(and a good thing to do at the weekend)

Skyscrapers back on the horizon” – a piece in the London Evening Standard on April 30th about the revival of skyscrapers on the London skyline caught our eye.

Developers, it seems, are pushing forward with schemes worth a total of more than 9 billion because of a shortage of office space and a growing demand for residential space.

We asked our resident Conran & Partners postcard writer Paul Zara for his take on the sudden resurgence of the skyscraper:

The suggested resurgence of towers on the London skyline is as surprising as it is amazing. Just when we all thought the new Towers of London were shelved forever (or at least for a decade or two) while we crawled our way out of recession, they have reared their heads again, so soon after the world collapsed.

The London skyline has changed so much over the last century, and not always for the better, but, as any architect working in this city knows, it’s now so hard to get a big proposal approved that by the time a scheme gets the green light we should have no concerns about the level of scrutiny it has experienced.  What other city has three planning authorities to satisfy? Tall Buildings have to go through the local planning authority, (whichever London Borough they sit in), plus CABE and the GLA.  (If you don’t know what these initials stand for try Google).

CABE and English Heritage have guidelines on how to assess tall buildings and Boris has his own views (less supportive than Ken’s of these huge erections). And we have a choice. Say yes to them as long as they demonstrate their appropriateness and quality, or say no and stagnate.  And stagnate we surely will if we reject change. London does not have to be a leading financial centre, but it ought to be. We can compete, and with buildings of the highest quality by the best architects we show the world that design matters.  At Conran this is a core belief in our business, and the London skyline can be part of that.  This silhouette of London now contains the London Eye and the Gherkin (It’s nothing like the shape of a gherkin).  Let’s keep that change happening and demonstrate to the world that London truly is its design capital.

Conran Columns: Tips for a great London Weekend

Can you believe it? Tate Modern is 10! Head down there this weekend for a fun-packed few days of family fun and art events for all!

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Conran Columns: Booty on Brands

Every month our resident brains behind the brands Emma Booty, Head of Branding at Studio Conran, shares her thoughts and observations about the world, and how it is branded.

Brand experience and paying for lunch

Lunchtime rituals have always fascinated me. The dash from the desk has been the one constant of my working life. Soho sandwich queue days were essentially window shopping sprees in disguise, Clerkenwell was ‘provincial fayre’ and pre-pay day chips, Milan’s gastronomie conversations commenced at 11, reaching work-defying frenzy by 12.15, Tokyo  provided water-cooler warning words of global womanhood: ‘rice crackers make you fat’.

Here too at Shad Thames we are in prime location for daily feasting: Pont de la Tour’s boutique sandwiches and the next door Deli cries of ‘un altro panino signora!’ are my two current favourites. So the only way to avoid the drudge of calorie limitation is to exercise in fury: morning hors-d’oeuvres is Gymbox and a one-hour spin-circuit class with an angry ex-marine.

Gymbox breaks the mould of smug, guilt-inducing, right-on fitness clubs with their 10 metre lap pools and carpet tiles. The brand is cheeky, brash and, well, kind of annoying. The underground industrial spaces have been transformed into dramatic feuding arenas. Designed by Ben Kelly they’re reminiscent of the Haçienda-days: the columns are wrapped in black and yellow stripes, railway sleepers divide the space and an enormous boxing ring takes centre stage. Not MTV, but Rocky movies projected on the concrete walls and live DJs. This brand celebrates our vanity, modern guilt is eschewed for a cuff round the ear. And I’m now Facebook friends with Millar-the-Pillar. Even on the most vicious of early mornings it can’t help but raise a wry smile.

Gymbox is a fine example of a brand connecting successfully with its customers. A great idea that holds its shape and integrity through all points of touch. Changing room mirror vinyls remind you how sexy you look, timetables tell of Stiletto Workout classes and Jamaican street dance. The hazard colour palette and the ‘Load your guns and tighten your buns’ are a morning call to action that puts me in credit at least one cappuccino and a cream-filled brioche.

On a more beguiling note I’m off to see the flock of zebra finches at their current residency at the Barbican – winged and jamming with electric guitars and amps.


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Conran loves the East London Line

Emma Weber, one of our graphic designers here at Studio Conran inaugurated the new overground East London Line yesterday morning and took a couple of pics…

East London Line

I usually cycle into work but I got a flat tyre last night cycling home so the opening was perfect timing. The train was practically empty and sooo clean. Amazing. The only downside was the colour and patterns of the seats… Check for yourself. Definitely not my cup of tea!


I started the journey at Haggerston, changed at Canada Water onto the Jubilee line and got off at Bermondsey…all in under 30 minutes!

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Hugo Eccles joins Studio Conran as new Creative Director

We are very excited to annouce that Hugo Eccles has joined us as the brand new Creative Director of Studio Conran. It’s his first day and he’s already a very busy man.

Hugo has just returned from judging the International Design Excellence Awards conducted in the Henry Ford Museum just outside Detroit – apparently a collection second in size only to the Smithsonian in Washington DC. This is the second year he’s been asked to judge the awards.

Hugo studied at the RCA and has over 15 years of professional experience working with influential European, Asian, and American companies on projects ranging from furniture and interiors to consumer electronics and concept cars.

He joined the innovation consultancy IDEO in 1995 and won an IDEA Bronze Award for Design Exploration, amongst others. After three years of working with IDEO and Ross Lovegrove, he founded Baionik, a London-based design studio servicing an international clientele including Honda, Nike and the Ford Motor Company.

In 2003 he relocated to the US to join Fitch Inc. as US Director of Product Development, where his team won 9 awards in three years including an IDEA Gold, the consultancy’s first in a decade.

On leaving Fitch, Hugo was offered the position of Creative Director of Habitat, a position previously held by Tom Dixon, but seeking different opportunities, he chose to lead the Arnell Group’s Innovation Lab. working with Fortune 500 clients including Home Depot and Johnson & Johnson.

60seconds with Hugo:


Terence Conran, and the group of companies he has built over 50 years, continues to be a force in British and worldwide design so the chance to be part of that, and in a significant way, was an opportunity I naturally jumped at.

What excites you most about your new role?

The sheer extent and scope of the potential. We have a great team, great clients and the remit to make some big waves.

Design Heaven?

Intelligence and simplicity.

Design Hell?

Anything styled vs designed. Unfortunately, there’s an awful lot of it about.

We are all really looking forward to working with him.

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