The way we live now: Looking back at the career of game-changing British designer Sir Terence Conran | PDD

The way we live now: Looking back at the career of game-changing British designer Sir Terence Conran


on November 15 2011

Today sees the opening of the Design Museums dedication to Sir Terence Conran, a retrospective exhibition entitled The Way We Live Now – PDD took a first look at the preview…

The work of Sir Terence Conran really needs little introduction, apart from of course to note his vast influence on not only British design (and designers), but also on the democratisation of design within the British home.

The exhibition for Conran is ‘a very personal exhibit, with 80 seeming to be the age to start looking back’.  For Terence Conran, design is a great passion for which he strives to carry on, and share with the  next  generations  ‘I want this to be an inspiration for school children and young designers, for them to realise what can be achieved in design world, with design being fundamental in Britain’s recovery as a manufacturing workshop for the rest of the world’.

The exhibition takes up a whole floor of the Design museum, chronologically covering the big stories of Conran’s career path as a designer and entrepreneur. The space throughout is littered with a number of mint-condition artefacts showing the broad spectrum of styles which Conran has developed and made his own. Examples of Conran’s portfolio span the breadth of his career as a designer, including present day pieces which are being and will  continue  to be sold through Marks and Spencer, a collaboration of which Conran himself quotes as ‘working with the perfect client, so far’.

Conran’s eye for collecting and using patterns was established early on as a textile designer, a discipline which then evolved into furniture design. Conran’s simplistic, yet ground-breaking designs were and are appreciated as the beginning of an era of democratised design – being accessible to the masses whilst still being design-orientated and stylish.

The walls are littered with quotes from Conran, sharing his ethos and desire to learn as a designer, whilst at the same time being accessible and not too far out of reach for the British public.

Conran’s foray into the world of restaurants doesn’t go unmissed, with a great range of chairs symbolising the varying moods and styles of his different eateries.

Habitat is a great focus throughout the exhibit, including a mock-up of a Habitat living room using furniture from earlier catalogues. It was fantastic to see the changing styles of Habitat, setting the trends for the ever-evolving tastes of Britain.

The exhibition includes a busy Conran lounge set-up, showing adaptable spaces within one room, with the study, the lounging area and the library all being condensed into one multi-faceted and design directed space.

The exhibition is a wonderful edit of such a huge expanse of work, being diffused, yet still impressive.