5 minutes with... Sebastian Conran

As the son of Sir Terence Conran, it would be fair to say that Sebastian Conran has design in his blood. After studying industrial design engineering at Central St Martins in the 1970s - his Linked in profile notably claims that as treasurer of the Students Union he gave The Sex Pistols their first ever booking - in the early days of his career he designed record sleeves, clothing and posters for The Clash. He went on to head up design at Mothercare before establishing his product and brand development consultancy Sebastian Conran Associates, also starting a separate design partnership with Tom Dixon during the 1990s.

The wide ranging portfolio of projects and collaborations he has worked on features brands including John Lewis, Nissan, Villeroy and Boch, Sainsbury's and Moulton Bicycles. His latest company Universal Expert, which launched in the UK at West Elm in December, offers a collection of intelligent and innovative solutions for modern living. Designed to add style to everyday routine, each item merges simple practicality with timeless design.

Sebastian's design ethos is summed up in the company's current #beautility campaign - a playful pragmatism in which form and function work alongside one another to create meaningful pieces that are designed to make life easier and better.

Which three words best describe the Universal Expert collection?

Satisfying, thoughtful, elegant or enderaring, useful, inventive - or even thoughtful, honest, elegant (THE).

Who or what inspires you?

Great humanists, physicists or inventors such as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, and of course the designer Achille Castiglioni.

What is your most treasured object or piece of furniture in your own home?

I think of my home as a bit of a treasure trove, but the Georgian draughtsman's table my father gave me as a wedding present has the most resonance.

Where's your favourite place to be?

In my home or garden with my family - I travel a lot and suffer terrible separation angst.

What would you be if you weren't a designer?

A civil /mechanical engineer or a physicist.

What are you reading right now?

The Circle by David Eggers, a dystopian view of world culture gone totally digital.

Which words of wisdom do you try to live by?

You can't beat Leonardo's dictum - 'Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication'.

Sebastian Conran's Universal Expert range is available from stockists including West Elm, John Lewis and Occa Home.


Seasonal Essentials | The summer hat

Hi everyone, it's Laurie again from Bell & Smokey here with the latest post on Seasonal Essentials. As we've just experience a so-called 'mini-heatwave', I've curated a selection of summer hats to see you through to the end of the summer. Let's just hope the warm weather returns for long enough to allow more than a couple of wears out of them. 

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A mountainside home in  Quebec

Incorporating shapes, colours and materials directly inspired by the site, this mountainside family residence located in the snow capped pine forests of Quebec, seems to emerge from the landscape.

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Postcard from... Bryncyn

Holidaying in the UK is so much less trouble. It's just easier to get to your destination and there is no tiresome queuing at airports or getting stuck on cross channel ferries. When you just want to be there and the journey isn’t an adventure, pack the car up, drive and half a day later…. ahhhh, relax.

In search of a place to get away from it all, this summer we headed to Bryncyn, a unique and surprising property in deepest Carmarthenshire that sits high up on a hill with views of the surrounding countryside to die for.

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Design Hunter loves...

...the new marble and terrazo collection from Belgian homeware brand Serax.

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Style Radar | August


A quick round up of some of the news, products, events and launches that have made it onto my radar this month.

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Design Hunter & MADE Unboxed

Who doesn't love snooping around other people's homes?

A little while back I was approached by MADE and invited to get involved in the launch of a new social media feature they have just unveiled over on their blog. Unboxed is designed to offer you a glimpse inside people's homes so that you can see how they have styled MADE products in their own space.  MADE sells exclusively online - although the company does currently have a couple of showrooms where you can view their products - and it's easy to see how a concept like Unboxed helps address some of the concerns we might have about buying furniture and homewares from an online retailer. I'm happy to buy online but I still like to do a little research and familiarise myself with the product before I buy.

"People not only want to see products in a real life situation, but more than ever we are fascinated by how others have decorated their homes," says MADE.com Co-founder and Creative Director Chloe Macintosh. "Unboxed contextualises our products. But more than that, it demonstrates 'collaborative consumption', empowering customers to take inspiration from each other."

I was on holiday when the site launched a couple of weeks ago so some of you may have spotted this via Twitter already, but if you missed it you can see our home featured on Unboxed here if you'd like to take a look around.

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