4 October 1931 |
Kingston upon Thames
|Alma mater||Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design|
|Occupation||Designer, restaurateur, retailer, writer|
|Known for||Habitat stores|
Early life and education
Terence Conran was born in Kingston upon Thames, the son of Christina Mabel (Halstead) and South African-born Gerard Rupert Conran, a businessman who owned a rubber importation company in East London. Conran was educated at Highfield School in Liphook, Bryanston School in Dorset and the Central School of Art and Design (now incorporated into Central St Martin's, a part of the University of the Arts, London), where he studied textiles and other materials.
Conran's first professional work came when he worked in the Festival of Britain on the main South Bank site. He left college to take up a job with Dennis Lennon's architectural company, which had been commissioned to make a 1/4 scale interior of a Princess Flying Boat.
Conran started his own design practice in 1956 with the Summa furniture range and designing a shop for Mary Quant. In 1964, he opened the first Habitat shop in Chelsea with his third wife Caroline Herbert, which grew into a large chain selling household goods and furniture in contemporary designs. In the mid-1980s, Conran expanded Habitat into the Storehouse plc group of companies that included Mothercare and Heal's but in 1990 he lost control of the company. His later retail companies include the Conran Shop and FSC-certified wood furniture maker Benchmark Furniture, which he co-founded with Sean Sutcliffe in 1983.
He has also been involved in architecture and interior design, including establishing the architecture and planning consultancy Conran Roche with Fred Roche in 1980. Projects include Michelin House (which he turned into the restaurant Bibendum) and the Bluebird Garage both in Chelsea. Conran had a major role in the regeneration in the early 1990s of the Shad Thames area of London next to Tower Bridge that includes the Design Museum which is managed by the Conran Foundation. His current business, Conran and Partners, is a design company comprising product, brand and interior designers and architects, working on projects all over the world. Terence currently designs furniture for Marks & Spencer, jcpenney, Content by Conran, Benchmark and The Conran Shop.
Conran has also created various other London restaurants including the Soop Kitchen, Orrery, Quaglino's, Mezzo, worked with Joel Kissin on Le Pont de la Tour, Blueprint Cafe, Butler's Wharf Chop House, together with restaurants in various other countries. In 2005 he was named as the most influential restaurateur in the UK by CatererSearch, the website of Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine. In 2007, 49% of the entire Conran restaurant business was sold to D&D, a company run by two former Conran employees, Des Gunewardena and David Loewi. In 2008, he returned to the restaurant business on a personal basis by opening Boundary in Shoreditch, East London, a restaurant/bar/café/meeting room complex.This was followed in 2009 by Lutyens, a restaurant and private club within the former Reuters building in Fleet Street London.
Terence has written over 50 books that broadly reflect his design philosophy, selling over 25 million copies worldwide. The majority of these books were published by Conran Octopus, a division of Octopus Publishing Group, a cross-platform illustrated book publisher founded by Sir Terence and Paul Hamlyn.
Representation and awards
Conran was knighted in 1983.
Conran is a winner of the Chartered Society of Designers Minerva Medal, the Society's highest award.
Between 2003 and 2011, he was provost of the Royal College of Art. In 2003 he received the Prince Phillip Designers Prize, in recognition of his lifetime achievements in design. In 2007, he received an honorary degree from London South Bank University.
Fashion designer Jasper Conran is his son with his second wife, writer Shirley Conran. Other members of the family include Sebastian Conran (designer), Tom Conran (restaurateur), and daughter Sophie Conran (cars, pies, and design). His youngest son, Edmund (known as Ned) has suffered from psychiatric problems; he was remanded in a secure unit in November 2001 after an assault on a tourist in London.
Conran and Caroline Herbert divorced in 1996; she settled for £6.2 million out of his £80 million assets. Although the court had acknowledged that she had for more than 30 years made an outstanding contribution to the Habitat and restaurant businesses, the trial judge thought it "absurd" to suggest that she had played an equal role in the generation of wealth.
Conran's sister Priscilla is a retailer and business woman with whom he has collaborated with on several occasions during his career, most prominently when she helped put The Conran Shop into the Michelin Building.
Conran and his wife, Vicki, live in London, Berkshire and France.
- The House Book. Pub. Mitchell Beazley, 1974. ISBN 0855330414.
- The Kitchen Book. Crown Publishers, 1977.
- The Bed and bath Book. Crown Publishers, 1978. ISBN 0-517-53399-5.
- The Cook Book. with Caroline Conran. Crown Publishers, 1980. ISBN 0517540185,.
- The Vegetable Book. Crescent, 1984. ISBN 0517446456.
- Terence Conran's New house book. Villard Books, 1985. ISBN 0-394-54633-4.
- Terence Conran's plants at home. with Susan Conder. Conran Octopus, 1986. ISBN 1-85029-056-3.
- Terence Conran's France. with Pierrette Pompon Bailhache, Maurice Croizard. Little, Brown, 1987. ISBN 0-316-15327-3.
- Terence Conran's Home Furnishings. 1987. ISBN 5-551-98206-8.
- Terence Conran's do-it-yourself with style. Simon & Schuster, 1989. ISBN 0671687190.
- Tableware. with Jeremy Myerson, Sylvia Katz. Pub. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990.
- Conran's Decorating with Plants. Smithmark Pub, 1990. ISBN 0-8317-2169-3.
- Terence Conran's garden style, with John McGowan. Ed. Roger DuBern. Crown Publishers, 1991. ISBN 0517584638.
- The Soft furnishings book. Conran Octopus, 1995.
- The French Room: Simple French Style for Your Home. with Elizabeth Wilhide. Conran Octopus, 1995. ISBN 1-85029-825-4.
- Terence Conran on design. Conran Octopus, 1996. ISBN 1-85029-771-1.
- The Essential garden Book' (Co-authored with Dan Pearson), Three Rivers Press, 1998. ISBN 0-609-80022-1.
- Terence Conran's Easy Living. Soma Books, 1999. ISBN 1-57959-045-4.
- Terence Conran on restaurants. Overlook Press, 2000. ISBN 1585670456.
- Terence Conran Small Spaces. Clarkson N Potter Publishers, 2001. ISBN 5-559-43946-0.
- Kitchens: the hub of the home. Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2002. ISBN 0-609-61052-X.
- Bathrooms: just add water. Conran Octopus, 2004. ISBN 1-84091-357-6.
- Designers on Design. with Max Fraser. Collins Design, 2005. ISBN 0060834102.
- The Ultimate House Book: For Home Design in the Twenty-First Century. Ed. Elizabeth Wilhide. Pub. Conran Octopus, 2006. ISBN 1-84091-468-8.
- The Conran Cookbook. with Simon Hopkinson, Caroline Conran. Conran Octopus, 2007. ISBN 1-84091-496-3.
- How to live in small spaces: design, furnishing, decoration, detail for the smaller home. Pub. Conran Octopus, 2007. ISBN 1840914734.
- Storage: Get Organized. Conran Octopus, 2007. ISBN 1-84091-434-3.
- Chef's Garden: Fresh Produce from Small Spaces. Conran Octopus, 2008. ISBN 1-84091-510-2,.
- Terence Conran's Inspiration. with Stafford Cliff. Conran Octopus, 2009. ISBN 1-84091-494-7.
- new edition Eco House Book, Octopus Publishing, London, ISBN 978-1-84091-602-7.
- "Sir Terence Conran: No designs on taking things easy". London: The Telegraph. 14 April 2008.
- Family detective The Telegraph, 3 March 2003.
- Conrans website
- Conran Shop
- Benchmark Furniture
- Conran press release
- "Evening Standard report on Ned Conran incident". Retrieved 20 January 2008.
- "Sunday Telegraph Mandrake column 20 January 08 – update on Ned Conran headed 'Conran's artful son says stop shopping'". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 20 January 2008.[dead link]
- Terence Conran. by Nicholas Ind. Sidgwick & Jackson, 1996. ISBN 0-283-06294-0.
- Terence Conran: design and the quality of life by Elizabeth Wilhide. Watson-Guptill, 1999.
- Content by Conran furniture line
- D&D London
- Light By Conran
- Vision By Conran
- The Conran Shop
- Conran & Partners Architecture, Product Design, Interior Design, Graphic Design
- BBC website article
- Guardian newspaper article
- Terence Conran profile on CatererSearch
- Interview with Sir Terence Conran on new Design Museum – LUX Magazine 2013
- Terence Conran interviewed by Ginny Dougary (2005)
- "Conran Fabrics". Fashion, Jewellery & Accessories. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 5 August 2007.