Regina Connell

Regina Connell

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Design Dynasty: The Conrans

It’s that nature or nurture question, once again. Does talent get handed down through genes, or through context and upbringing?

The Conran Family certainly is a case in point. This is a family that has more creative talent in it than really seems fair. But the Conran “DNA” encompasses far more than design talent. Just as prominent family attribute is the clan’s shared knack for making it accessible and commercial without losing integrity. And finally, there’s a roving eye, and the ability to stretch across multiple design areas, moving seamlessly from homewares to restaurants to production design and back again.

It’s this combined talent that has enabled the Conrans to make their mark on global design. And if you believe that design improves the quality of life, then the impact of Clan Conran is particularly profound.

Terence Conran
Terence Conran

Let’s start with Terence Conran (Sir, to us commoners, knighted as he was in 1983.) Furniture designer; store founder (Habitat first, then the Conran Shop); restaurateur; design entrepreneur (for example, he founded Benchmark, an FSC furniture company); developer; prime mover behind London’s Design Museum, and author of over 50 books.

Nelson Table, by Terence Conran
Nelson Table of Benchmark Furniture

His eye for simplicity, clean lines and quality infused with a subtle touch of whimsy, combined with his entrepreneurial nous enabled him to single-handedly help the British people emerge from the post-WWII design doldrums, and become the inspiration for generations of British industrial designers.

Matador Chair, designed by Terence Conran
Matador Chair, designed by Terence Conran

Then there’s are Jasper, Sebastian, Sophie, and Tom, each major design forces and lifestyle shapers in their own right, while son Edmund is an artist.

Jasper Conran
Jasper Conran
Chinoiserie White Plate, Jasper Conran
Chinoiserie White Plate, Jasper Conran

Jasper Conran is a gifted, Parsons-educated fashion, lifestyle product, and production designer (with notables like Wedgwood), and author. He’s also now the Creative Director of the Conran Shop.

Universal Expert Cooking Preparation, Sebastian Conran
Universal Expert Cooking Preparation, Sebastian Conran

Sebastian Conran is a graphic and product designer, heading up a product design firm called Sebastian Conran Associates whose clean, sleek and accessible product designs – often focused around the home under the brand Universal Expert – elevate the every day. His industrial designs, often for cutting edge technologies – make the futuristic familiar..

Sophie Conran, Chair for Selfridges
Sophie Conran, Chair for Selfridges

Sophie Conran is a different kind of designer, focused on creating beautiful environments designed around food. From creating a line of pies to authoring cookbooks, creating a line of tableware for the Portmeirion, designing restaurants and interiors, this Conran has a beautiful, elevated homespun style but with a focus on practicality: a family trait.

Tom Conran, The Cow Restaurant
Tom Conran, The Cow Restaurant

Similarly passionate about food, London-based Tom Conran is a successful restaurateur, whose popular restaurants quickly become neighborhood hubs and property value enhancers. Clearly, he has the family knack of being able to bring the family together for memorable experiences.

Nature? Nurture? How about nurturing nature? May the Conran Dynasty live on.




IMAGES and Credits
Terence Conran, [Portrait] image courtesy of the BBC
Nelson Table, courtesy of Benchmark Furniture
Matador Chair, designed by Terence Conran at Conran via the Conran Blog
Jasper Conran, [Portrait] image http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/esmagazine/jasper-conran-is-ready-to-rule-the-family-business-9873413.html
Chinoiserie White Plate, Jasper Conran, http://www.wayfair.com/Jasper-Conran-Chinoiserie-White-10.75-Plate-5013269540-JAS1097.html
Sebastian Conran, Universal Expert Cooking Preparation, image via Universal Expert
Sophie Conran, Chair for Selfridges, image via the Sophie Conran Blog
Tom Conran, The Cow restaurant, image via The Cow