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On Monday, when I posted the Coming Up this Week post describing my topic–British Influence–and outlining what would be covered, I included a sentence that turns out to be chock full of errors: “Designer Terrance Conran founded one of the first lifestyle brands when he opened The Conran Shop.” Well, chock full may be hyperbole, but there are two pretty big (and stupid) mistakes there. First of all, it’s Terence Conran, not Terrance; then there’s the fact that The Conran Shop–the current incarnation of the Conran lifestyle brand–only came about after Conran’s first retail endeavor, Habitat, was no longer under his control.


Terence Conran founded Habitat in 1964. |

50 years ago–in May of 1964, to be precise–Conran founded Habitat, the first British retailer to position interior design in the lifestyle category. This was less than two years after the first Crate and Barrel opened in Chicago and almost 15 years before Ikea came to England. The way products were showcased at Habitat set the standard for furniture and housewares retailers for decades to follow, and Habitat’s focus on affordable design had a tremendous impact on how the first post-war generation decorated and lived in their homes.

The Conran Shop

The Conran Shop Chelsea, London location. |

Today, the Conran lifestyle brand is brought to life via The Conran Shop’s locations in London, Paris, and Japan. The intervening years and evolution of Terence Conran’s influence on how we live today included merging Habitat with another brand and creating Storehouse; ultimately, The Conran Shop grew out of that and is currently under the leadership of Jasper Conran, one of the elder Conran’s children. Under Jasper Conran’s leadership, the brand has retooled its retail establishments to include The Conran Apartment, an entire floor of the store designed to show off collections of both in-house designs and the best of curated home furnishings from other brands. Here’s a look at The Conran Apartment from their Marylebone store:

The Conran Shop tour on Japanese Trash. |

The Conran Shop tour on Japanese Trash. |

The Conran Shop tour on Japanese Trash. |

The Conran Shop tour on Japanese Trash. |

The Conran Shop tour on Japanese Trash. |


British Influence: Keep Calm and Carry On. |

Remember when this seemed to be in every interior that showed up online? That was back when Japanese Trash first began–I felt like I was seeing them everywhere. Who started the craze, and where did it go?

Houzz comes up with over 3,800 Keep Calm and Carry On home design photos, and the first one on the list (at least it is for me; who knows if the images show up in the same order for everyone) is from Victoria Smith’s blog, When I saw that, I decided to take a look there and see if I could glean any history of the poster’s use in the kinds of interiors that were coming up on interior design blogs four years ago. And, guess what? Jackpot.

It turns out that Victoria herself seems to have (at least partially) built her empire on sales of her quality reproductions of the Keep Calm and Carry On artwork — note, I use the term “empire” as a pun here, just in case that wasn’t clear. The New York Times wrote about it a full year before Japanese Trash came online in its current form, and Victoria weighs in on the phenomenon in an interview on The Everygirl that was published in 2012. Well, good for you, Victoria!

Of course, as is the way with all popular culture it seems, it wasn’t long before backlash and parody began and now you don’t see the Keep Calm and Carry On posters around too much any more. But they will live forever on Houzz.

Here are a couple of classic examples, just in case you’re already feeling nostalgic:

Remember when this kitchen-and that poster-was everywhere? |

Just like the poster itself, there was a time when this kitchen seemed to be everywhere.

Another "Keep Calm" kitchen. |

And another Keep Calm kitchen; that thing must’ve really resonated with home cooks.

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