The Design Museum marks Sir Terence Conran’s 80th birthday with a major exhibition that explores his unique impact on contemporary life in Britain. Through his own design work, and also through his entrepreneurial flair, Conran has transformed the look of the British home. He has established a design studio and an architectural practice with a worldwide reach. He was the founder of Habitat and a pioneer of the new restaurant culture driven by a passion for simplicity.
Matador chair & footstool in brown leather, designed by Terence Conran, Content by Coran Collection.
The Way We Live Now explores Conran’s impact whilst painting a picture of his design approach and inspirations. The exhibition traces his career from postwar austerity through to the new sensibility of the Festival of Britain in the 1950s, birth of the Independent Group with its flare for the avant-garde and the Pop Culture of the 1960s, to the design boom of the 1980s on to the present day.
Terence Conran, circa 1950. Photographer Ray Williams.
The exhibition will cover key areas and themes of Conran’s career whilst exploring his wider impact on British life. The exhibition opens with a collection of Conran’s own pieces from the late 1940s and 1950s, when he was welding steel chairs himself, designing textile designs, ceramics and magazine covers. The Habitat story will include the reconstruction of one of the room sets shown in the Habitat catalogues that were so influential in the 1960s and 1970s. It will also look at the work of the many talented designers that Conran commissioned to work on Habitat’s identity, and products. Conran’s role in professionalising the practice of design is charted by the work of the various Conran Design studios, which undertook projects as diverse as lighting, furniture, kitchenware, packaging, architecture and retail design.
Balance alcove shelving, designed by Terence Conran, Content by Coran Collection.
Conran’s approach to food is traced by a look at the many restaurants that he has designed and opened. A recreation of Conran’s study from his home in Barton Court will offer a glimpse into his private world. The exhibition will also demonstrate Conran’s influence and legacy on current designers including recent Royal College of Art graduates who have been awarded the Conran Foundation RCA Award.
Book Shelving Unit, by Terence Conran, 1963. Photo by John Maltby RIBA Library photographic.
Exhibition: Terence Conran: The Way We Live Now
From November 16 to March 4 2012
Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD
T: + 44 0870 833 9955