Sir Terence Orby Conran, FCSD, (born 4 October 1931) is an English designer, restaurateur, retailer and writer.
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 Bryanston School in Dorset and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design 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 his college education to take up a job with Dennis Lennon's architectural company, they 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 Heals 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 London's 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.
Conran has also created various other London restaurants including the Soup Kitchen, Orrery, Quaglino's, Mezzo (restaurant), 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/cafe/meeting room complex.This was followed in 2009 by Lutyens, a restaurant and private club within the former Reuters building in Fleet Street London.
He has written and published various books, particularly on interior design. Many 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.
Since 2003, he has been provost of the Royal College of Art. That was also the year 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 the former wife of Antonio Carluccio who once worked for Conran.
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 0517533995.
- 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 0394546334.
- Terence Conran's plants at home. with Susan Conder. Conran Octopus, 1986. ISBN 1850290563.
- Terence Conran's France. with Pierrette Pompon Bailhache, Maurice Croizard. Little, Brown, 1987. ISBN 0316153273.
- Terence Conran's Home Furnishings. 1987. ISBN 5551982068.
- 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 0831721693.
- 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 1850298254.
- Terence Conran on design. Conran Octopus, 1996. ISBN 1850297711.
- The Essential garden Book', Three Rivers Press, 1998. ISBN 0609800221.
- Terence Conran's Easy Living. Soma Books, 1999. ISBN 1579590454.
- Terence Conran on restaurants. Overlook Press, 2000. ISBN 1585670456.
- Terence Conran Small Spaces. Clarkson N Potter Publishers, 2001. ISBN 5559439460.
- Kitchens: the hub of the home. Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2002. ISBN 060961052X.
- Bathrooms: just add water. Conran Octopus, 2004. ISBN 1840913576.
- 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 1840914688.
- The Conran Cookbook. with Simon Hopkinson, Caroline Conran. Conran Octopus, 2007. ISBN 1840914963.
- 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 1840914343.
- Chef's Garden: Fresh Produce from Small Spaces. Conran Octopus, 2008. ISBN 1840915102,.
- Terence Conran's Inspiration. with Stafford Cliff. Conran Octopus, 2009. ISBN 1840914947.
- Terence Conran. by Nicholas Ind. Sidgwick & Jackson, 1996. ISBN 0283062940.
- Terence Conran: design and the quality of life by Elizabeth Wilhide. Watson-Guptill, 1999.