5 minutes with... Sebastian Conran

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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.