In Good Company: Sebastian Conran

By Kate Burnett
January 24, 2018

British designer Sebastian Conran has created a plethora of enduring pieces, planning to have them end up on flea markets rather than a landfill. He talks to Studio about the impact of robotics and the busy year 2018 is shaping up to be.

When was the company founded? Originally in 1986. We joined up with the Conran Group for a bit, but we have been independent for the last 8 years.

How many staff? Usually about 12 full-time on the team. I find this is the optimum amount for a design studio where I can still be involved with every project, but have the scale to undertake significant projects.

Where is it based? We are in a converted garage near Kensington Olympia, west London, with design studios and prototype workshops.

What is your latest project of note? We work on a variety of projects from homewares to consumer-facing robotics. Last year we launched the Eternity bathroom collection for VitrA (above), The Gifu Collection, and MiRo, a robotic-companion pet – there’s more information on our website.

What is your best-selling product (and how much of it do you sell)? I am afraid that this is confidential information, however they did make around 30 million. It’s the Anywayup cups we designed.

I’ve just discovered… how wonderful the Brompton bicycle user experience is. It’s a wonderful example of iterative evolutionary design and engineering that is constantly focused on product improvement.

Who inspires me… There are so many people who inspire me – mainly scientists, many of whom have since passed. However, working with our design team and clients is very motivating and enjoyable. Museums, especially the Design Museum, and travelling inspire me too.

I’ve always been a fan of… Designing the antiques of the future – products that are kept and endure, both in terms of emotional appeal and function, but are also innovative and sustainable. I want my designs to end up in flea markets, not landfill!

My highlight of the last 12 months… It’s been busy, with various visits to Japan, Afghanistan, and Dubai. The successful launch of the Gifu collection at Maison & Objet in Paris started the year, followed by the launch of the New Old exhibition at the Design Museum, then the launch of the Eternity bathroom accessories collection for VitrA in Frankfurt. Aside from that we have been developing exciting robotics devices to help people’s independence and mobility. I also received an Honorary Doctorate in engineering at the University of Sheffield and a fellowship from the Society of British Interior Designers, as well as some awards for design and innovation.

My next design trip is to… Paris, then Holland and Istanbul, followed by Japan…

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