Terence Conran Wiki – biography
Terence Conran was an English designer, restaurateur, retailer, and writer. He was the founder of furniture brand Habitat and London’s Design Museum.
Terence studied textile design at London’s Central School of Art. Leaving studies in 1948 to seek full-time employment, he set up a workshop with his tutor, the artist, and print-maker Eduardo Paolozzi where he concentrated his skills on furniture design, ceramics, and fabrics. The early 1950s saw Terence work on the Festival of Britain alongside architect Dennis Lennon.
Terence founded Habitat in 1964, the furniture company that he grew from a single, high profile outlet in London, to a national and international chain. Habitat was the springboard for Conran’s expansion into the retail mainstream. As the founder of the Storehouse Group, he acquired the Heal’s furniture business, set up Next also ran British Home Stores and Mothercare. Terence continued to be involved in retail after he opened the first The Conran Shop in 1972, with eight stores located in London, Paris, New York and across Japan.
Terence was also at the forefront of professionalising design in Britain throughout his life. Founded over 60 years ago, The Conran Design Group demonstrated the best of design in Britain, specialising in interiors, hotel and restaurant design, graphics, products and homeware. Terence would also go on to establish an architectural practice with Fred Lloyd Roche called Conran Roche and eventually became Conran and Partners.
Alongside design, food was also one of Terence’s great passions and he became a renowned restaurateur. His first restaurant, with Ivan Storey, The Soup Kitchen, opened in London in 1953 and he went on to open many more including Pont de la Tour, Bibendum, Orrery, Quaglino’s and Mezzo. His restaurant interests extended to Paris, New York, Copenhagen also Tokyo.
Terence Conran Age
Terence Conran was born on 4 October 1931, in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, England. He died on 12 September 2020, in Kintbury, West Berkshire, England. He was 88 years old.
Terence Conran married architect Brenda Davison in 1952 at the age of 19; the marriage lasted six months. He married his second wife, journalist Shirley Pearce, in 1955 with whom he had two sons – Sebastian and Jasper – before they divorced in 1962. Conran married his third wife, cookery writer Caroline Herbert, in 1963. The marriage lasted for 33 years and produced three children – Tom, Sophie, and Edmund – before ending in divorce in 1996. He had been married to his fourth wife Victoria Davis since 2000.
Terence Conran had five children: Sebastian Conran, Jasper Conran, Tom Conran, Sophie Conran, and Edmund Conran.
Terence Conran was the son of Christina Mabel (nee Halstead) and South African-born Gerard Rupert Conran, a businessman who owned a rubber importation company in East London.
Terence Conran Death
Terence Conran died at his home at Barton Court, London on 12 September 2020, at the age of 88. His family confirmed his death in a statement via Design Museum: “It is with great sadness we announce British designer, retailer and restaurateur Sir Terence Conran passed away peacefully today at his Barton Court home aged 88. He was a visionary who enjoyed an extraordinary life and career that revolutionised the way we live in Britain. A proud patriot, Sir Terence promoted the best of British design, culture and the arts around the world and at the heart of everything he did was a very simple belief that good design improves the quality of people’s lives. In his private life he was adored by his family and friends and we will miss him dearly. It gives us great comfort to know that many of you will mourn with us but we ask that you celebrate Terence’s extraordinary legacy and contribution to the country he loved so dearly.”
The Design Museum said in a statement: “Terence Conran, founder of the Design Museum, designer, philanthropist and businessman, passed away on Saturday 12 September 2020. He was 88 years old. Through a series of parallel careers, Sir Terence Conran had a greater impact than any other designer of his generation, revolutionising everyday life in contemporary Britain.
“Founding the Design Museum in Shad Thames in 1989 following an innovative start as the Boilerhouse in the basement of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sir Terence Conran was a visionary mentor, leader and philanthropist. His ongoing commitment and support to the museum was recognised with a medal for Arts Philanthropy in 2012 and in 2017 the Queen awarded him the Order of the Companions of Honour for his major contribution to the arts. Terence was the subject of a monographic exhibition The Way We Live Now at the Design Museum in 2011 to coincide with his 80th birthday.”
Tim Marlow, Director and Chief Executive, Design Museum said: “Terence Conran was instrumental in the re-designing of post-War Britain and his legacy is huge. He is revered by generations of designers from Mary Quant and David Mellor to Thomas Heatherwick and Jonny Ive. He changed the way we lived and shopped and ate. He also created a great institution – the Design Museum – of which he was justifiably proud and with which he remained fully engaged right to the end of his extraordinary life. It was a privilege and an inspiration to know him.”
Deyan Sudjic, Director Emeritus, Design Museum said: “No one has done more to create modern Britain than Terence Conran. He spent his whole career looking for ways to make life better for everyone.”
Lord Mandelson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Design Museum said: “Terence Conran has filled our lives for generations with ideas, innovation and brilliant design. He is one of the most iconic figures of post war Britain, starting to recast the world of design when as a young man he joined the team working on the 1951 Festival of Britain and never stopping from that moment on. He leaves a treasure trove of household and industrial design that will stay with us forever. And in the Design Museum which he conceived, inspired and drove, he has the most brilliant, enduring tribute and legacy. All of us at the Museum will miss him terribly and never lose sight of what he believed in and what he has contributed to the UK story.”
MP Barry Sheerman tweeted: “Terence Conran was a design legend as well as a brilliant entrepreneur I enjoyed working with him promoting design & young designer education with the Parliamentary Group on Design Policy-Connect.”
Cause of Death
Terence Conran’s cause of death was not revealed.
Terence Conran’s net worth was estimated to be £85million.