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.
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
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: