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‘Visionary’ UK designer Sir Terence Conran dies

Written by on 12 September 2020

British designer Sir Terence Conran has died aged 88, with his family describing him as a “visionary”.

In a statement released through the Design Museum, his family said he had “passed away peacefully today at his Barton Court home”.

They added: “A proud patriot, Sir Terence promoted the best of British design, culture and the arts around the world and at the heart of everything he did was a very simple belief that good design improves the quality of people’s lives.

Image:
Sir Terence was known for opening the first Habitat store and his work was celebrated in an exhibition at The Fashion and Textile Museum in 2019

“From the late forties to the present day, his energy and creativity thrived in his shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels and through his many design, architecture and furniture making businesses.

“Founding the Design Museum in London was one of his proudest moments and through its endeavours he remained a relentless champion of the importance of education to young people in the creative industries.

“Sir Terence enjoyed a remarkable life to the full and always maintained that his work never felt like a job – everything he did for business he would have done for pleasure.

“In his private life he was adored by his family and friends and we will miss him dearly.

“It gives us great comfort to know that many of you will mourn with us but we ask that you celebrate Terence’s extraordinary legacy and contribution to the country he loved so dearly.”

Born in Kingston upon Thames in 1931, he began his career making and selling furniture in London.

He went on to open restaurants across the capital before launching Habitat in 1964, with his third wife, Caroline Herbert.

The designer (centre) is kissed by his son, Jasper, as wife Vicki looks on
Image:
The designer (centre) is kissed by his son, Jasper, as wife Vicki looks on

That store grew into a large chain known for selling household goods and furniture in contemporary designs.

He received a knighthood in 1983 for services to design.

Tim Marlow, director and chief executive at the Design Museum, said: “Terence Conran was instrumental in the re-designing of post-war Britain and his legacy is huge.

“He is revered by generations of designers from Mary Quant and David Mellor to Thomas Heatherwick and Jonny Ive.

“He changed the way we lived and shopped and ate. He also created a great institution – the Design Museum – of which he was justifiably proud and with which he remained fully engaged right to the end of his extraordinary life.

The designer died at the age of 88, a statement confirmed on Saturday.
Image:
The designer died at the age of 88, a statement confirmed on Saturday.

“It was a privilege and an inspiration to know him.”

Lord Mandelson, chairman of the board of trustees at the Design Museum, said: “Terence Conran has filled our lives for generations with ideas, innovation and brilliant design.

“He is one of the most iconic figures of post-war Britain, starting to recast the world of design when as a young man he joined the team working on the 1951 Festival of Britain and never stopping from that moment on.

“He leaves a treasure trove of household and industrial design that will stay with us forever.”

And MP Barry Sheerman tweeted: “Terence Conran was a design legend as well as a brilliant entrepreneur I enjoyed working with him promoting design & young designer education with the Parliamentary Group on Design Policy-Connect.”

He is survived by wife Vicki, and children Sebastian, Jasper, Tom, Sophie and Edmund.