Remembering Terence Conran
The legendary furniture designer Sir Terence Conran died earlier this month at the age of 88, leaving behind a monumental legacy.
Sir Terence was best known for founding Habitat, the Conran Shop, and playing a role in the founding of London Design museum. And many credit him for revolutionising the way British people lived in the latter half of the 20th Century.
In essence, it was his fashionable yet accessible furniture and homeware that aided his rise to prominence. Because his was a passion for the ordinary things, which ultimately played a role in his impact on material life in Britain post-WWII.
As said in The Guardian’s obituary of Sir Terence, his achievement “was to put middle Britain in touch with the pleasure principle. Habitat was meant to make houses cheerful.” And to that end he revolutionised British home life.
He was the recipient of many honours and awards throughout his career, including the Lifetime Achievement Award by The Furniture Makers’ Company.
But aside from his dealings with the design world he was also a restauranteur. And in 1953 he opened The Soup Kitchen in Charing Cross, which boasted a clever and inexpensive interior design on a budget of £267 – a further testament to his commitment to the philosophy of practicality and simplicity.
All in all, to oversimplify Terence Conran’s career and impact, you could say that he brought great design to the masses. With Habitat preceding many of the simplistic furniture stores that are so ubiquitous today. And, most likely, if you talk to anyone from Conran’s time, they’ll tell you that every house on the street at one point or another resembled a Habitat store.
Terence Conran’s best quotes
Of course we can honour his legacy as best we can, but who can say it better then the man himself?
Here are some of our favourite Terence Conran quotes:
“The living room should be a place where we feel totally at ease – temple of the soul.”
“If our homes should provide anything, they should provide a sense of who we are and how we got here, a sense of connection balanced by a sense of direction and progress.”
“Home is the heart of life Home is where we feel at ease, where we belong, where we can create surroundings that reflect our tastes and pleasures Making a home is a form of creativity open to everyone.”
“Perhaps believing in good design is like believing in God, it makes you an optimist.”
“Good design is probably 98% common sense. Above all, an object must function well and efficiently-and getting that part right requires a good deal of time and attention.”
When an influential figure passes, it’s only natural that the tributes follow. And there was no shortage of designers and institutions taking to Twitter to express their sadness at the news, and to share their reasons for admiring Terence Conran so much…
So sorry to hear of the death of Sir Terence Conran: a British visionary with a radical belief in the public’s right to great design. A generous, supportive & long time, if sometimes frustrated, friend to @V_and_A. A great loss to UK art, design & culture.Tristram Hunt (@TristramHuntVA)
Farewell to Sir Terence Conran, he’s been at the forefront of design all my life. A true visionary of British design & an inspiration to so many of us. I worked just around the corner from @TheConranShop in Fulham Road so popped in most days to admire their immaculate curations.Ashton House Design (@ashtonhouse_des)
The Design Museum mourns the loss of its founder, design visionary, Sir Terence Conran. The designer, philanthropist and businessman sadly passed away today, at 88 years old. He had a big impact on British life and revolutionised everyday living.Design Museum (@Design Museum)
Vale Sir Terence Conran. We are saddened to hear of the design legend’s passing. The world will be less vibrant without him in it, but he leaves behind an incredible legacy of ideas, innovation and good design.Sydney Design School (@SyDesignSchool)
And perhaps the best way to conclude is with one final quote from Sir Terence, his own legacy and impact:
‘What I’ve managed to achieve, in a small way, is to get the country to appreciate design. That’s what I hope to leave behind.’