Terence Conran

Sir Terence Orby Conran, CH, FCSD (born 4 October 1931) is an English designer, restaurateur, retailer and writer.[1]

Sir Terence Conran

Born (1931-10-04) 4 October 1931
Kingston upon Thames, England, United Kingdom
EducationBryanston School, Dorset
Alma materCentral Saint Martins College of Art and Design
OccupationDesigner, restaurateur, retailer, writer
Known forHabitat stores
Spouse(s)Shirley Conran (2nd), Caroline Herbert (3rd), Vicki Conran (4th)
ChildrenJasper Conran, Sebastian Conran, Tom Conran, Sophie Conran, Edmund Conran
RelativesPriscilla (sister)

Early life and education

Conran was born in Kingston upon Thames, son of Christina Mabel (Halstead) and South African-born Gerard Rupert Conran, a businessman who owned a rubber importation company in East London.[2] Conran was educated at Highfield School in Liphook, Bryanston School in Dorset and the Central School of Art and Design (now incorporated into Central St Martin's, a part of the University of the Arts, London), where he studied textiles and other materials.


Conran's first professional work came when he worked in the Festival of Britain (1951) on the main South Bank site. He left college to take up a job with Dennis Lennon's architectural company, which had been commissioned to make a 1/4-scale interior of a Princess Flying Boat.[3]

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, London, 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 BhS, Mothercare and Heal's but in 1990 he lost control of the company.

His later retail companies[4] include the Conran Shop[5] and FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) wood furniture maker Benchmark Furniture,[6] which he co-founded with Sean Sutcliffe in 1983.

He has also been involved in architecture and interior design, including establishing the architecture and planning consultancy Conran Roche with Fred Roche in 1980. Projects include Michelin House (which he turned into the restaurant Bibendum) and the Bluebird Garage, both in Chelsea.[7] 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. His business, Conran and Partners, is a design company comprising product, brand and interior designers and architects, working on projects all over the world. Conran designs furniture for Marks & Spencer, J. C. Penney, Content by Conran, Benchmark and The Conran Shop.

Conran has also created various other London restaurants including the Soop Kitchen, Orrery, Quaglino's, Mezzo, worked with Joel Kissin on Le 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 percent of the entire Conran restaurant business was sold to D&D, a company run by two former Conran employees, Des Gunewardena and David Loewi.[8] In 2008, he returned to the restaurant business on a personal basis by opening Boundary, a restaurant, bar, café and meeting room complex in Shoreditch, East London. This was followed in 2009 by Lutyens, a restaurant and private club within the former Reuters building in Fleet Street London.[9]

He has written over 50 books that broadly reflect his design philosophy, selling over 25 million copies worldwide. The majority of these books were published by Conran Octopus, a division of Octopus Publishing Group, a cross-platform illustrated-book publisher founded by Conran and Paul Hamlyn.

Honours and awards

Conran was knighted in 1983 and was appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to design.[10]

He is a winner of the Chartered Society of Designers Minerva Medal, the society's highest award.

Between 2003 and 2011, Conran was provost of the Royal College of Art.

In 2003, he received the Prince Philip Designers Prize in recognition of his lifetime achievements in design.[11]

In 2007, he received an honorary degree from London South Bank University.

In May 2012, he received an honorary professorship from the University for the Creative Arts, for services to design, education and the creative arts.[12]

Conran received an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Architecture, honoris causa) from the University of Pretoria for his contributions to interior design in August 2012.[13]

He won the Lifetime Achievement Award at The Catey Awards in 2017.


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 Conran (known as Ned) had problems with drug and alcohol abuse and was remanded to custody in a psychiatric unit in 2001 following a sexual assault on a tourist in London. He has since recovered and become a restaurateur.[14][15]

Conran and Caroline Herbert divorced in 1996.


  • The House Book. Pub. Mitchell Beazley, 1974. ISBN 0855330414.
  • The Kitchen Book. Crown Publishers, 1977.
  • The Bed and Bath Book. Crown Publishers, 1978. ISBN 0-517-53399-5.
  • 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 0-394-54633-4.
  • Terence Conran's plants at home. with Susan Conder. Conran Octopus, 1986. ISBN 1-85029-056-3.
  • Terence Conran's France. with Pierrette Pompon Bailhache, Maurice Croizard. Little, Brown, 1987. ISBN 0-316-15327-3.
  • Terence Conran's Home Furnishings. 1987. ISBN 5-551-98206-8.
  • 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 0-8317-2169-3.
  • 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 1-85029-825-4.
  • Terence Conran on design. Conran Octopus, 1996. ISBN 1-85029-771-1.
  • The Essential Garden Book (Co-authored with Dan Pearson), Three Rivers Press, 1998. ISBN 0-609-80022-1.
  • Terence Conran's Easy Living. Soma Books, 1999. ISBN 1-57959-045-4.
  • Terence Conran on restaurants. Overlook Press, 2000. ISBN 1585670456.
  • Terence Conran Small Spaces. Clarkson N Potter Publishers, 2001. ISBN 5-559-43946-0.
  • Kitchens: the hub of the home. Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2002. ISBN 0-609-61052-X.
  • Bathrooms: just add water. Conran Octopus, 2004. ISBN 1-84091-357-6.
  • 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 1-84091-468-8.
  • The Conran Cookbook. with Simon Hopkinson, Caroline Conran. Conran Octopus, 2007. ISBN 1-84091-496-3.
  • How to live in small spaces: design, furnishing, decoration, detail for the smaller home. Pub. Conran Octopus, 2007. ISBN 1-84091-473-4.
  • Storage: Get Organized. Conran Octopus, 2007. ISBN 1-84091-434-3.
  • Chef's Garden: Fresh Produce from Small Spaces. Conran Octopus, 2008. ISBN 1-84091-510-2,.
  • Terence Conran's Inspiration. with Stafford Cliff. Conran Octopus, 2009. ISBN 1-84091-494-7.
  • Essential Colour. Conran Octopus Publishing, London 2011, ISBN 978-1-84091-567-9.
  • new edition Eco House Book. Conran Octopus Publishing, London 2012, ISBN 978-1-84091-602-7.
  • Plain, Simple, Useful: The Essence of Conran Style. Conran Octopus Publishing, London 2014, ISBN 978-1-84091-655-3.


  • Terence Conran. by Nicholas Ind. Sidgwick & Jackson, 1996. ISBN 0-283-06294-0.
  • Terence Conran: Design and the Quality of Life by Elizabeth Wilhide. Watson-Guptill, 1999.

See also


  1. "Sir Terence Conran: No Designs on Taking Things Easy". The Daily Telegraph. 14 April 2008.
  2. "Family Detective". The Daily Telegraph. 3 March 2003.
  3. "Conran – Home". Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  4. "TERENCE ORBY CONRAN - Company Director Check". www.flixens.com. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  5. Conran Shop Archived 19 August 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  6. "Contemporary Furniture Handmade at Benchmark - Benchmark Furniture". Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  7. "Bibendum Oyster Bar reopens with new design by Sir Terrence Conran and new menu from Matthew Harris and Simon Hopkinson" Archived 11 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Brompton Design District. Accessed 29 October 2015.
  8. Conran press release.
  9. "85 Fleet Street". http://www.lutyens-restaurant.com/history. Retrieved 30 October 2015. External link in |publisher= (help)
  10. "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B25.
  11. Designers Prize.
  12. "UCA ceremony as Sir Terence Conran becomes honorary professor". BBC News. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 September 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  14. "Evening Standard report on Ned Conran incident". Retrieved 20 January 2008.
  15. "Sunday Telegraph Mandrake column 20 January 08 – update on Ned Conran headed 'Conran's artful son says stop shopping'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 21 January 2008. Retrieved 20 January 2008.
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