From the Redbrick archives: An interview with Terence Conran
Founder of The Conran Shop, designer and restaurateur, Sir Terence Conran is widely regarded as the voice of authority on design in the UK. Inspired by Bauhaus principles and Scandinavian craftsmanship, Conran believes that every designer should have a personal understanding of materials and processes.
'Fill your home with all the things you need and love. Your home should always be a reflection of your own personality and a place you feel comfortable in. I may put things in front of people in our shops and through my designs which help them make choices, or give them practical advice in my books but the final line is that they need to trust their own taste. I would never want to go into somebody’s home and find it entirely furnished by Conran I want to see people’s character through what they have chosen and love.' - SirTerence Conran
1. Thoughts on Redbrick and its Retail offer
There are not many department stores in the UK that have such a substantial and interesting homewares offer under one roof. Red Brick seems to emanate a passion for design and what they are selling which is missing in so many retail outlets these days - people who are passionate about the products they are selling, who care about what is on their shelves. Unless you have that passion I don’t think you are going to have a very interesting shop and that transmits to customers. It seems that the staff at Redbrick have this quality in abundance.
I also think it is wonderful how new life has been breathed into an old Victorian mill and transformed it in to a wonderful department store. Many designers, myself included, are attracted to these robustly engineered buildings that truly reflect the energy and entrepreneurialism of this age.
2. As you know, Redbrick houses a collection of leading name branded furniture, how do you feel your brand sits within this eclectic mix?
I love the eclectic mix of furniture on offer at Red Brick Mill. I’ve been influenced by Scandinavian and Art Deco, amongst many other things, furniture during my career and think that Content by Conran sits comfortably alongside it. The Content range doesn’t shout for attention – it is well designed furniture made from good quality materials that are built to last so I think they would look good in any home. If furniture is intelligently designed it will help improve the quality of life of the people and that is what I have been trying to do for most of my life, which is why I think it sits so well amongst all the other offerings in Redbrick.
3. It is often perceived that the North of England suffers from a lack of cutting-edge furniture and accessory stores, what is your perception?
I don’t think so at all and if so then somebody is clearly missing out on a huge market. I feel there is a great passion for design throughout the UK that certainly doesn’t stop at the Watford Gap. There is a danger that you can become too London-centric but personally speaking, our collections sell equally well across the country. Magazines and television programmes have demonstrated very intelligently that people can enjoy a better style of life and help people make their choices about their homes which has created an enthusiasm for our homes country wide.
4. Do you have any favourite locations in the North and why?
We opened our first Habitat outside of London in Manchester which I have always felt is a terrific city with a real sense of its own identity and a sense of reinvention. I couldn’t believe the transformation when I visited a few years ago shortly after the Commonwealth Games and saw the terrific urban regeneration in the city centre. Daniel Libeskind’s Imperial War Museum is breath taking. Liverpool seems to be having a lot of fun being the Capital of Culture and I am very sorry that I won’t get to see the Le Corbusier exhibition at the Tate there as he is a design hero of mine.
5. What is favourite piece of furniture and why?
The Karuselli is the most comfortable chair I know – it is wonderful to sit in because it relaxes you. There is a marvelous, if a little fanciful, story behind the design. Yrjö Kukkapuro, the Finnish designer, fell into a snow drift on his way home after a few too many drinks. When he came to his senses and managed to drag himself out, he realised how comfortable he was so he used the impression made by his body as the model and inspiration for his chair. A wonderful icon that looks as good today as it did in 1964.
I can’t say I have had a similar experience, but the Karuselli did inspire the Glove Chair which is one of the earliest pieces from the Content by Conran range. We felt we could improve on the swivel mechanism so we have brought the manufacturing back to the UK and are delighted that it is now back in the range with a black back and cream front which I think makes it just that little bit more handsome.
Design Quarter at Redbrick offer the Content by Terence Conran range which was established in 2003 by Sir Terence Conran, founder of Habitat and the Conran Shop. The collection is comfortable, simple and uses natural, authentic materials that look better and better over time. Deisgn Quarter can be found on the ground floor.
Designed especially for Made.com, Content by Terence Conran have collaborated to produce affordable, design-led furniture here in the UK. The OKSANA and TOBIAS ranges are available in a range of sizes and shades and can be seen in the top floor showroom at Redbrick.