What I Know About Style

sophie conran

Sophie Conran


Daughter of Sir Terence and designer in her own right, Sophie Conran has recently launched a new collection of wallpaper and carpets

Your new collection is all about wallpaper. What inspired you to launch Reflections?

Memories of my childhood and places that were significant whilst I was discovering the world – I wanted to make my feelings relatable. For example, some of the patterns express independence.

I have been working with Arthouse for several years, and have already launched a wallpaper line with them a few years ago.

Who do you think will appreciate the designs most?

I hope they’re fairly universal. Wallpaper adds warmth to any room, and also personality. Everyone has a different favourite pattern. There is no one stand-out piece, or one type of customer. I love that people enjoy them.

You’ve focused on ceramics these past few years, do you feel there’s an overlap in terms of the design process?

There is in a way. Design is about a set of challenges and end use – how the person feels when they’re using it. Then you must try to exploit the possibilities within the medium, which is different with ceramics. Wallpaper has depth and can be very textured; for example, the shimmer of mica juxtaposes well against a matte fabric.

The design process itself is similar; editing down an idea across a timeline and seeing it morph into something you’re happy with.

Do you think a stylish life is important? Do you believe aesthetics are important in every arena?

No. I think it’s important to surround yourself with things you love and make you feel comfortable. Everyone’s aesthetics are different, and it’s wonderful that people approach things in different ways.

What’s your life philosophy?

Try to make the best of any situation and be thankful.

What is your favourite Sophie Conran item?

A butter dish I made with Portmerion. It’s quiet with personality and sums up my aesthetic pretty well.

Did you have a background in design?

I did all sorts of things. I opened a shop when I was about 25 – Wong Singh Jones on All Saints Road. It was nicknamed the corner shop of the world, and showcased cultural classics and consumer icons. We brought NYC loft lights over, Carmex and Emergen-C sachets – it was very eclectic. We had plates made of leaves from India, scissors, and US takeaway boxes before any of these existed in Britain. It only ended when I moved to Australia.

I also worked for the milliner Stephen Jones, my brother Jasper, and my dad. Growing up I was totally surrounded by designers. My dad’s studio was next door – we used to sneak in to steal pens!

If you hadn’t gone into design, what might you have done instead?

I wanted to be a nursery school teacher growing up, but my main ambition was always to be a mum.

You’ve lived around Bayswater for most of your adult life, what first drew you to the area?

I had friends in the area and rented a room in their house, then my brother bought a flat on the square I live now. I followed suit and bought a maisonette, then over the years a couple of the surrounding flats, to make a larger space.

You’ve conquered the worlds of interior, ceramic and wallpaper design, do you think you’ll branch out into other arenas?

I hope so. I’ve also recently launched a collection of 23 carpets, which is totally new for me. The process is surprisingly different from wallpaper design. You’re thinking about horizontal spaces rather than vertical. My favourite from the collection is called By the Fire – a Persian muted rusty red.

Do you have a favourite west London hangout?

Hyde Park, as it’s so close to us, and my brother Tom’s pub, The Cow. He called me up and told me he’d just bought a pub and was naming it after me. I was terribly excited.

And a favourite west London boutique?

Matches on Ledbury Road, and Heidi Klein on Westbourne Grove.

Who is your favourite designer?

My dad.

Any plans for world domination?

Not sure, sounds like a lot of work. Actually why not, one mug at a time!


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