Tag Archives: sir terence conran

The Design Museum breaks new ground

“This is one of the best days of my long life.” So said Terence Conran at the ground breaking ceremony for the new home of the Design Museum at the Commonwealth Institute, Kensington.

The Museum’s leading lights – including Deyan Sudjic, the current Director, Terence, the founder, and John Pawson, the architect behind the Institute’s conversion – gathered to celebrate a new phase in the Museum’s history.

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Gordon’s Q&A with Terence Conran

To celebrate the launch of our Ten Green Bottles collaboration, we went over to Diageo HQ for some lovely elderflower and strawberry G&Ts.

Here’s the Conran work in pride of place in Diageo’s reception:

Conran + Gordon's Diageo HQ reception

The Ten Green Bottles artwork at Diageo HQ

Whilst we were there, Terence answered a few questions about his history, and the world of design in general. Continue reading


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Helping Britain show off

As the pedals whir and the epées clash, all the world and his dog are eyeballing London. And whilst the focus is obviously sporting, it’s a good opportunity for everyone who contributes something or other to our fair city – whether that’s commerce, art or artisan pastries – to show off.


Britain welcomes the world

The British Business Embassy is an organised way of showing off – a platform for demonstrating the imagination and innovation of British business, and the merits of investing here. As the top brass of the world’s top companies, from Google to General Motors, convene on London, how do you go about showing off the world’s greatest city?

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Terence on luxury

As part of our series of pieces on luxury design, we put a question to our Chairman, Sir Terence Conran:

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Design by Conran to shake up the American homewares market

We’re delighted to be working with jcpenney to bring a new range of homewares to America.

Design by Conran for jcpenney

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Fakes: fought.

The Conran Shop launched the Get Real: Fight the Fakes campaign a few short weeks ago, in support of Michelle Ogundehin’s Equal Rights for Design e-petition.

Get Real: Fight the Fakes

It’s an issue that’s long been close to our hearts: at The Conran Shop, we sell the work of hundreds of designers; designers whose work we love. We think the second-rate copyright protection they have erstwhile enjoyed chills the climate for design in Britain. It’s also bad for consumers: fakes and copies are seldom as well-built as originals, nor do they hold their value.

Well, there’s good news: yesterday, the Government announced that UK copyright laws for designers are to be amended to be in line with those currently granted to artists, writers and musicians.

Until now, product and industrial designers have benefited from protection for only 25 years from the date at which the copyright is issued, in stark contrast to those afforded to the other creative industries, whose art is safeguarded from unauthorised copies for 70 years after the death of the original author.

As our Chairman, Terence Conran put it:

“By protecting new designs more generously, we are encouraging more investment of time and talent in British design. That will lead to more manufacturing in Britain, and that in turn will lead to more jobs – which we desperately need right now. Properly protected design can help make the UK a profitable workshop again. We have the creative talent – lets use it.”

The Conran Shop will continue to champion the protection of design classics by only working with licensed manufacturers and by informing our customer’s about the value of investing in design classics.

Let’s crack out the bubbly!

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The Conran Manifesto

Terence talked to the Times last week, outlining his vision for a property-based path out of recession.

Conran Bricks & Mortar piece

Terence was interviewed off the back of an open letter to the Government (published in the Friday Times Letters section), which called for a revival of the “vision, ambition and pride” that dragged Britain out of the post-War slump. He cites new council housing and VAT exemption for the refurbishment of derelict buildings as key starting points.

“I truly believe we can build our way out of recession. There is a massive bubble of demand and one day that must burst and kickstart growth. But we need the Government to provide the pin-prick.”

Conran and Partners is currently working on 2,500 homes for house associations across the country.

EDIT: here’s the full text of Terence’s letter to the Times:


After working in design and business for almost 60 years I am currently enduring my sixth, and without question, worst recession. During the last recession I built Europe’s largest restaurant in Soho, because I believe the way through difficult economic times is to be bold, seize opportunity and create.

At the end of the 1970s there was a housing surplus. I wouldn’t say the stock was all good quality but if somebody needed a home they stood a good chance of getting one.

That was down to the ambitious postwar political desire to transform this country and improve lives. In 2010 we built the fewest homes since the end of the Second World War.

We need that vision, ambition and pride again because I truly believe we can build our way out of recession.

Banks need to lend, developers need to commission architects, plannes need to approve projects quickly and efficiently and we need to build. There is a massive bubble of demand that must be burst to kick-start growth. We need government to provide the pinprick.

Grant Shapps, the Minister for Housing and Local Government, throws out soundbites and tweets with Blairite fervour, but doesn’t appear to actually do much.

According to the charity Empty Homes, there are nearly one million UK properties vacant, a scandal that tweeting won’t help.

Housing starts are at near record lows and Mr Shapps can’t keep blaming “the last administration”. The coalition has been in government for almost two years now and excuses have worn thin.

— Sir Terence Conran, London SE1

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Terence’s Top 10 Conran/M&S products: No. 5 – The Hourglass

This product has caused quite a stir in the office. It’s a witty update on the old-fashioned hourglass – but we’ve reduced the time down to just 15 minutes.

Legend has it, when M&S CEO Marc Bolland saw it he immediately said he wanted to order one for each of his staff at the M&S Head Office in Paddington to make sure meetings were conducted quickly and efficiently!


It’s something we might even think about doing here at Conran HQ. Although an even better use might be for maximum running time for the bath or a countdown to putting the kettle on in the middle of your favourite TV programme….

£19.50, available from M&S stores throughout the UK and online at www.marksandspencer.com/autumn. Available online 23rd September.

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Conran wins more awards…

Another day, another awards ceremony and another Lifetime Achievement gong for Terence. Mat Riches, Terence’s PR man tells all…

The occasion last night was the Tatler Magazine Restaurant Awards, held in the grand space of the Langham Hotel’s Ballroom, where Terence was honoured for his outstanding contribution to the restaurant industry.

David Hesketh, Managing Director of Laurent-Perrier UK, who had been doused with Champagne from the flute of a certain Conran employee moments before going on stage, presented Terence with the award, which he called an “absolute pleasure.”

Terence told the packed crowd of movers and shakers from the restaurant, and PR, industry: “I’m not sure why I am getting a lifetime achievement award as I feel like I’m only just beginning – it makes me realise I have still got an awful lot to do.”

Hear hear!

Other winners last night included Nicolas Clerc of Le Pont de la Tour for wine list and sommelier and ex-Orrery chefs Chris and Jeff Galvin who won best restaurant for Galvin La Chappelle.

As you can see from the picture of Terence receiving his award, the Conran team were at the heart of the crowd with a great spot to enjoy the evening.

Whilst we are talking Conran restaurants…

The excellent Clare-Dwyer Hogg from the Independent on Saturday magazine wrote a piece last weekend about the secret history of the Quaglino’s ashtray.


Clare suggests that Terence “just thought the patrons of his restaurant were unlikely thieves. But he was forgetting that they were flocking to Quaglino’s precisely because the restaurant’s reputation was synonymous with design.”

That’s not quite the whole story, explains Mat Riches again; as always ‘Sir’ knew exactly what he was doing.

Each of the Conran restaurants had its own ashtray, which captured the character and personality of the place but, in my opinion, the Quag’s “Q” just happened to be more beautiful and covetable than most. But whenever I sit in an interview with Terence and he is asked about the pilfering of Quaglino’s ashtrays he chuckles to himself and says that it was no surprise he has always taken it as a huge compliment:

“A great deal of time and effort went in to designing them and we had great fun. Although we would have preferred customers to buy them from behind the bar, we always knew full well that a good amount of them would make their way in to people’s handbags and pockets so it was not as if we were looking at it naively. They were a great, if expensive, marketing tool!”

Clare quite rightly quotes that by the time the restaurant was 10 years old, more than 25,000 of Quaglino’s ashtrays had gone “missing”. What she doesn’t mention is that by Quag’s 10th birthday 2.5 million customers had been served, 220,000 bottles of champagne had been poured and 75 tons of oysters and 30 tons of chateaubriand had been eaten.

And don’t tell Terence, but I’ve got two of them at home – one for salt and pepper and one for smokers!


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