Conran, Terence Orby 1931-

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CONRAN, Terence Orby 1931-

PERSONAL: Born October 4, 1931, in Esher, Surrey, England; son of Rupert and Christina (Halstead) Conran; married Brenda Davison (divorced); married Shirley Ida (Pearce), 1955 (divorced, 1962); married Caroline Herbert (a writer), 1963 (divorced, 1996); children: (first marriage) Sebastian, Jasper; (second marriage) Tom, Sophie, Edmund. Education: Attended Central School of Art, studied textile design, 1948-50. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, cooking.

ADDRESSES: Home—22 Shad Thames, London, SE1 2YU, England. Office—The Studio, Barton Court, Kintbury, Newbury, Berkshire, England.

CAREER: Rayon Centre, London, textile designer, 1950-51; Dennis Lennon Studio, London, interior designer, 1951-52; Conran and Company, freelance furniture designer, 1965-56; Soup Kitchen restaurants, founder-proprietor, London, 1953-56; Conran Design Group, founder-director, 1956-71; Habitat Furnishing Stores, founder-director, 1964-71; Ryman Conran Ltd., London, joint-chairman, 1968-71; Neal Street Restaurant, London, managing director/chairman, 1968-72; Conran Stores, chairman, 1977—; Jasper Conran Fashion Company, chairman, 1977—; J. Hepworth and Son, director/chairman, 1979—; Habitat Mothercare Ltd., chairman, 1982—; Conran Roche Architectural and City Planning, director, 1982—; Conran Octopus Publishing, 1982—; Butlers Wharf Development, 1984—; Michelin House Development, director, 1985—; Bibendum Restaurant, chairman, 1986—; British Home Stores PLC and Savacentre Ltd., chairman, 1986—; Conran Foundation for Design and Industry, founder/trustee, 1982—; Design Museum, London, founder/trustee, 1989—; Conran Ink, Creative Business, and Conran Associates, Terence Conran Ltd., 1990—.

MEMBER: Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, 1973-76; council of Royal College of Art, 1978—, and advisory council of Victoria and Albert Museum, 1979-81; Society of Industrial Artists and Designers.

AWARDS, HONORS: Presidential medals for design management from Royal Society of Arts, 1968, 1975; Society of Industrial Artists and Designers Design Medal, 1980; Royal Society of Arts Bicentenary Medal, 1982; Daily Telegraph/Association for Business Sponsorship Award, 1982; Queen's New Year Honours, knighthood, 1983; honorary fellow, Royal Institute of British Architects, 1984; D&AD President's Award, 1989; Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, awarded by Jack Lang, minister of culture, France, 1992; House Beautiful Design Award, 2002.


Printed Textile Design, Studio Publications (New York, NY), 1957.

The House Book, Mitchell Beazley (London), 1974.

(With Maria Kroll) The Vegetable Book, Collins (Glasgow), 1976.

The Kitchen Book, Mitchell Beazley (London), 1977.

The Bed and Bath Book, Crown Publishers (New York), 1978.

(With Caroline Conran) The Cook Book, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 1980.

Terence Conran's New House Book, Villard Books (New York, NY), 1985.

Conran Directory of Design, edited by Stephen Bayley, Villard Books (New York, NY) 1985.

(With Susan Conder) Terence Conran's Plants at Home, Conran Octopus (London), 1986.

The Soft Furnishings Book, edited by Judy Brittain, Conran Octopus (London), 1986.

Terence Conran's Home Furnishings, edited by Judy Brittain, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1986.

(With Pierrette Pompon Bailhache and Maurice Croizard) Terence Conran's France, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1987.

Original Designs for Bathrooms and Bedrooms, edited by John McGowan and Rogert DuBern, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1989.

Original Designs for Kitchens and Dining Rooms, edited by John McGowan and Roger DuBern, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1989.

Terence Conran's DIY by Design, edited by John McGowan and Roger DuBern, Conran Octopus (London), 1989.

Terence Conran's Garden DIY, edited by John McGowan and Roger DuBern, Conran Octopus (London), 1991.

Terence Conran's Garden Style, edited by John McGowan and Roger DuBern, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 1991.

Children's Furniture and Toys: Stylish Projects to Make for Your Children, Macmillan: Maxwell Macmillan International (New York, NY), 1992.

Terence Conran's Kitchen Book: A Comprehensive Source Book and Guide to Planning, Fitting and Equipping Your Kitchen, edited by Elizabeth Wil-hide and Deborah Smith-Morant, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 1993.

The Essential House Book: Getting Back to Basics, Crown (New York, NY), 1994.

(Author of introduction) The Cigar in Art, Overlook Press (New York), 1996.

Terence Conran on Design, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 1996.

(With Caroline Conran and Simon Hokinson) The Essential Cook Book: The Back-to-Basics Guide to Selecting, Preparing, Cooking, and Serving the Very Best of Foods, Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York, NY), 1997.

(With Dan Pearson) The Essential Garden Book, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 1998.

Terence Conran's Easy Living, Soma Books (San Francisco, CA), 1999.

(With Andi Clevely and Jeremy Lee) The Chef's Garden, Soma Books (San Francisco, CA), 1999.

Terence Conran's New House Book: The Complete Guide to Home Design, Conran Octopus (London), 1999.

Terence Conran on Restaurants, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 2000.

Terence Conran Small Spaces: Inspiring Ideas and Creative Solutions, Clarkson Potter (New York, NY), 2001.

Alcazar to Zinc: The Story of Conran Restaurants, Conran Octopus (London), 2001.

Terence Conran Kitchens: The Hub of the Home, Clarkson N. Potter (New York, NY), 2002.

Q and A: A Sort of Autobiography, HarperCollins Publishers, Ltd. (London), 2002.

Terence Conran's House & Garden Design Projects: Over 45 Projects and Hundreds of Ideas for Making the Most of Your Home—Inside and Out, edited by John McGowan and Roger DuBern, Conran Octopus (London), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS: Two years after leaving the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, where he studied textile design, Sir Terence Conran set up a freelance furniture-making business in a basement studio on Notting Hill in London. Six years later, he founded the Conran Design Group, which, over the next thirty-five years, grew to become one of the largest design consultancies in Europe, with offices in London, Paris, and Hong Kong. During this same time period, he founded Conran Roche, an award-winning architects and city planning firm, opened several restaurants, founded and managed many retail shops, and wrote a prodigious number of books.

In presenting House Beautiful's 2002 award to Conran, editor-in-chief Marian McEvoy referred to him as "'the patron saint' of up-to-the-minute design," according to Washington Post's by Jura Koncius. McEvoy added, "Terence Conran changed the way an entire generation looked at design."

Some of the more famous of Conran's creations include his Habitat store. The first one opened in the 1960s and has since become an international retail chain that sells stylish, practical, and affordable furniture and housewares. A by-product of Habitat was the slightly more upscale Conran Shop, which also evolved into a chain. Later, Conran opened his Mothercare shops that sold clothing for mothers and babies; while his line of Hepworth stores sold men's wear. Conran also started Benchmark Woodworking, a furniture-making company.

In the business of restaurants, The Soup Kitchen was Conran's first, followed by others such as Bibendum, Mezzo, Zinc Bar, and Bluebird. In 1983, Conran used his knowledge of the publishing industry (having already authored numerous titles) to found a publishing company called Conran Octopus. This publisher specializes in books about interior design, cookery, gardening, crafts, and the decorative arts, all of which reflect Conran's design philosophy and style.

Most of Conran's books focus on some element or theory of interior design. He has written extensively on decorating almost every room of the house, concentrating on how to make life easier, more comfortable, and more pleasing to the eye. His first successful book was simply called The House Book (1974). Since then, he has taken the basic concepts included in this book and revised and updated them in subsequent editions. In The Essential House Book: Getting Back to Basics (1994), Conran promotes his minimal design for the entire house. Some of his ideas include mixing design concepts of different cultures as well as mixing old styles with new.

With his Terence Conran's Easy Living (1999), he offers more than just photographs and projects about interior design. His philosophy of design and comfortable living is also included in the extensive text of this book, in which he discusses functionality and simplicity in modern life, two of his favorite topics. Partnered with Easy Living is his Soft Furnishings Book (2000), which covers household elements such as drapery, fabric screens, cushions, seat-covers, and more. For those who live in small apartments or homes, Conran offers his Small Spaces: Inspiring Ideas and Creative Solutions (2001). Whether decorating a houseboat or a tree-house-sized abode, Conran's ideas offer aesthetically pleasing solutions.

Another of Conran's many interests is the home garden. To this end, he has published The Essential Garden Book (1998), which covers the small city plot as well as the elegant country formal garden. In 2000, Terence Conran's Garden DIY was published, in which he makes suggestions for everything related to the garden from children's playhouses, to trellises, patios, ponds, and plant containers. The same year, he also published The Chef's Garden, taking yet another aspect of backyard projects, this time the kitchen garden. In this book, Conran recommends that everyone, regardless of the limits or expansiveness of available space, grow herbs, fruit, and vegetables to guarantee that their diet includes chemical-free and more intensely flavored food. He offers tips on how to use herbs and edible flowers in eighteen simple but exotic recipes.

Conran has also written two books on another favorite topic of his, restaurants. His 2000 Terence Conran on Restaurants covers topics that anyone interested in opening a restaurant might want to read. Sharing his experience of more than forty years in the restaurant business, Conran writes about how to select the right location, plan a budget, design the space, and choose a menu and staff. Also included are profiles of some of the most successful restaurants in the world, including Big Sur's Nepenthe, Chicago's Big Bowl, and New York City's Nobu and Balthazar. Two years after the publication of this book, Conran wrote Alcazar to Zinc: A Story of Conran Restaurants, in which he recounts the history behind his own involvement in forty-two different restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs, and delis.

Conran offers readers a more personal look into his forty-odd-year career as author, designer, restaurateur, and founder of furniture and other retail stores with his book Q and A: A Sort of Autobiography. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that Conran's autobiography is "as original as his home design concept." For this book, Conran asked several friends, family members, and a few celebrities to ask him questions about his life, which he responded to in full. "Conran's chatty and forthright responses yield an engaging portrait of a man who sums himself up as a 'hard-working hedonist.'"



Publishers Weekly, January 14, 2002, review of Q and A: A Sort of Autobiography, p. 50.

Washington Post, May 30, 2002, Jura Koncius, "Terence Conran at the Peak of His Powers," p. H01.


Conran, (July 21, 2002), "Conran News."*