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Terence Conran - Creativity and DesignTerence Conran - Creativity and Design


Terence Conran (1931- )


English designer and businessman (pictured right).

Founded Habitat, the designer store, in 1964

His simple furniture designs were incredibly popular and bought by celebrities like the pop star, John Lennon , pictured right below.

 Terence Conran - Creativity and Design

Why is he so creative?


1. Purpose and vision

He has always tried to design things that:

  • “make life easier for people”.
  • are plain, simple, useful and distinctive (by providing “a thoughtful alternative”).

So he is passionate about using design to improve:

  • housing. Terence Conran - Creativity and Design
  • education.
  • public transport.

Conran strongly believes in the maxim of the nineteenth century English designer, William Morris (pictured right):

“have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”.


2. Passion and customer satisfaction

He is incredibly enthusiastic about great design and its contribution to business success.

So he:

  • founded the Design Museum in London.
  • taught students in deprived areas of London.

He has always believed that good design must be sold to as many people as possible at the lowest possible price.

 Terence Conran - Creativity and Design

3. Inspiration

The inspiration for his Peace Garden (pictured right) for the 2005 Chelsea Flower Show  came from his family motto:

“from peace comes wisdom”.

So his garden had an olive tree and white ceramic doves as well as half a million pebbles to represent the lives lost by Britain and Commonwealth countries in the Second World War.


4. Lifelong learning

He learned from:Terence Conran - Creativity and Design

  • his childhood (his artistic mother and sister  particularly influenced him)
  • student days (at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London).
  • his tutor and great friend, Eduardo Paolozzi (Scottish sculptor, pictured right, courtesy of the BBC) .
  • the work of other great designers.

He admits that his product ideas have never been totally original, but he sold and packaged them brilliantly, making modern design look very glamorous.


5. Fun and hard work

Conran is highly conscientious, because he loves his work.

“I’ve just done the things I enjoy doing”, he says

The only exception was his unhappy reign as the boss of Storehouse in the 1980’s which owned BHS, Habitat and Mothercare.Terence Conran - Creativity and Design

So he:

  • sold Habitat (Conran is pictured right in the 1960's in a Habitat chair).
  • successfully returned to his two great loves: restaurants and design.

He says that retirement would kill him, and he wants to die with an unfinished project.


6. Determination and ambition


  • has overcome the handicap of losing the sight of one eye (after an accident with a lathe aged 13)
  • is continually driven by his ambition to be successful.


7. Luck

He came from a wealthy background that gave him the advantage of an expensive private education.


Key quotes on design

My definition of intelligent design is 98 per cent common sense and 2 per cent aesthetics.

Design is the tribute art pays to industry

The things I designed are plain, simple and useful.


Key quote on accountants and market research

Accountants and market researchers may be brilliant at examining and analysing facts about the past, but they have no forward vision.


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