Sir Terence Conran At ‘The Way We Live Now’ Exhibition
I was absolutely amazed at how much he actually changed the living/eating patterns and social behaviour of the post-war generation; through his various businesses including founding interiors consultancy Conran Design Group, high street furniture chain Habitat and opening restaurants such as Quaglino’s and Le Pont de la Tour.
At the preview, Sir Terence said: “This exhibition is very exciting for me because it is trudging back through my life and reminding me about lots of things that I’d forgotton about. Recently, I was eighty years old and it seems that being eighty is the moment when you have to look back at your life, so for that reason the exhibition is quite relevant. Design is fundamental to recovery in this country and to have a manufacturing base benefits this. We can become a workshop to produce innovative products, new products and promote this to young people.”
I also interviewed Stafford Cliff – one of the exhibition curators – who has worked with Sir Terence since 1966, when he joined Conran Design Group as a 19-year-old graphic designer. Stafford worked on the original Habitat catalogues during the late ‘60’s and 70’s (many of which are displayed on the walls of the exhibition). These mail order magazines were so innovative at the time, as they showcased product in a completely new way. Furniture was shown in a home lifestyle scene (inspiring our modern day lifestyle magazines which we now take for granted), but they also included inspirational tips, such as what lighting to use or how to fix a blind.
Stafford said: “We thought, ‘what can we do do to give people useful information which would help them furnish their homes?’ It could be as varied as what to look out for when buying roller blinds, how to organise a fondu party or how to make pasta. No commercial company had previously thought lets put the two together, but how do you buy a wok if you don’t know what to do with it?”
The exhibition includes a recontruction of rooms from the Habitat catalogues, original print patterns from Sir Terence’s early days as a textile designer and a life-size mock-up of his office (amongst others!). If you’re interested in the history of British design, it is a definite must-see!
The exhibition launches on 16th November and will run until 4th March 2011. Visit the Design Museum for more info.