From sir with love

Sir Terence Conran, England's pioneering design innovator, requires little introduction.

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Born in 1931, Sir Terence Conran's biography is a study of commitment and enterprise. A graduate of the Central School of Arts and Crafts, Sir Terence started his career as a designer in 1952 when he set up his own furniture-making business in a basement studio in London's Notting Hill. It was a modest start, but by the time he divested of his interest in Habitat in 1990, his stylishly utilitarian design ethic was already entrenched as the benchmark of British design.

A keen cook and gastronome, Sir Terence has transformed the landscape of London with his stylish eateries. Bibendum, Bluebird, Mezzo, Orrery, Quaglino's... the list of his projects is as endless as they are successful. With his company Conran & Partners, he has also proven himself equally adept at product and graphic design as he is with architecture and interior design.

"I've always seen myself as a designer first, rather than a businessman," he once confessed. London's resplendent Design Museum evidences this belief, Sir Terrence investing £20 million of his own money into the project. Knighted for his services to British industry and design in 1983, Design Indaba is a privileged opportunity to hear Sir Terence speak on his first visit to South Africa.

Quotes from Sir Terence Conran

"In one sense, every single thing that has been made by man or woman has been designed. This is a fundamental truth, but it is one that many people find difficult to grasp, perhaps because it is so obvious."

"My belief is simply that if reasonable and intelligent people are offered something that is well-made, well-designed, of a decent quality, and at a price they can afford, then they will like it and buy it."

"The most important part for me is what the particular project I'm designing achieves. The most thrilling thing is to see a project actually working... Like looking at a new baby."

"People whose talents are not exploited become disenchanted and disruptive. The important thing is that managers must involve employees; lead employees."

"It is extraordinary that so many people today buy well-designed cars, audio-visual, domestic and electronic equipment, yet houses and furniture are all too often 'el crappo' when they could easily be inspiring."

"Ambitious, mean, kind, greedy, frustrated, emotional, tiresome, intolerant, shy, fat." Sir Terence Conran describing himself to Tom Ford, design director of Gucci.