My favourite part of writing is, without doubt, interviewing people. I just love to find out more about the people behind the designs and helping to tell their story. I have always felt that in order to really understand the designs you must first understand the designer, otherwise it is impossible to really appreciate their products fully. Over the years, I have done quite a few interviews that I have been really proud of. One of those interviews was with one of the world’s best–known designers, entrepreneurs and restaurateurs: Sir Terence Conran. I have also had the pleasure of interviewing Sebastian Conran, the eldest son of Sir Terence Conran. So when I was contacted a few weeks ago about the opportunity of interviewing Felix Conran, the grandson of Sir Terence and son of interior designer, author and cook Sophie Conran, I thought it would be a great opportunity to speak to the newest member of the design dynasty.
You come from a family of hugely successful designers. Have you felt any pressure to go into the family business? Or have you always wanted to be a designer?
No pressure! Everyone around me is amazing, my friends and family are my biggest inspiration, they are supportive and challenging in perfect measurements.
You dropped out of the Product Design course at Central St Martins. Why did you decide not to finish the course?
Saying ‘dropped out’ sounds rash and unpredictable, but honestly it was the most gentle departure from the course. Everybody understood that when the university was inhibiting my ability to begin my career I would leave, so I did!
Are you worried that people will judge your achievements and success against those of your family members?
Not at all, we’re different people doing different things, in different times. I’m not worried about it, although I’m sure it will happen at some point.
How do you intend to make your mark on the design industry and establish yourself as a designer in your own right?
The world of design is constantly evolving and changing, shifting and moving. I want to be know for working on everything under the sun, doing different projects with different people to create a cloud of work, to never specialise and to become almost unpredictable in the projects that I work on.
Can you describe your approach to design?
This is something I would prefer to be told than to answer.
In your opinion, what is good design?
Something that inspires, something, whatever it may be, that makes people think, or something that becomes so familiar that it almost disappears. Like a paper clip, paper clips are awesome, but they are so familiar, so useful. There’s a world of objects that we all associate ourselves with daily, without even knowing, things that are “plain, simple and useful”.
How important is it for you to be creating sustainable, practical products with purpose that complement and enhance the end users lifestyle?
You’re making my job very easy here! I could answer that with a single word. Imperative
Your latest product design is the Ohyo bag. Can you tell us about this?
Of course! It is a friend of anyone that commutes. It is an adaptable bag that is a magic shapeshifting chameleon; it can rise to any challenge and shrink to hold a book. The bag is designed to be ready for anything, it changes size and shape to become a book bag, a laptop bag, a gym bag, or a shopping bag. They are made in London, come in four colours and two materials, and are available from OHYO or FelixConran.com
You work with major manufacturers and retailers across numerous disciplines including furniture design, lighting, luggage, technology and accessories. What is the one thing you would like to design in the future?
So many things, everything! I would love to do a pair of shoes at this particular moment.
You have a highly anticipated design and exhibition space due to open in East London in 2016. Can you tell us about this?
Yes, we are on Mare Street firstly. The space is going to be thriving with creativity, it is a space that will be occupied by myself and five of my amazingly talented friends: Emma Grant (fashion designer), Nick Dunne (photographer), Anousha Payne (sculptor), Charlie Laughton (bespoke furniture maker), and Elliss Solomon (pattern cutter). The space will be all of our bases, and we plan to create a large flexible space that is ready for anything, from hard graft, to a concert venue or a film screening. There will also be a shop on the premises so anything that is made there will be for sale there too. I’m unbelievably excited. We want to encourage people to just walk in and see what’s cooking, maybe join us for lunch? You can follow the development of the space by checking my Twitter or Instagram. Hope to see you all there soon!