Decorating & Design

September 21, 2011

Interview: Sophie Conran

Never mind a silver spoon, designer Sophie Conran was practically born with a baking tray in her hand. Her father is British designer Sir Terence Conran, founder of the U.K.-based Habitat stores. Her mother is noted food writer Caroline Conran, and her siblings enjoy a similar pedigree, counting artist, designer and restaurateur among their credits. Conran breathed great food and design her entire life, so it’s no surprise that after stints as a designer and chef, she launched a celebrated collection of tableware for Portmeirion. The simple, elegant lines of her porcelain pieces are the essence of good form and function. As a child, Conran scuttled between her father’s design studio and her mother’s kitchen. Now the mother of two young children herself, she says of her parents: “These two incredible pillars have provided the inspiration for my current blend of food and design.”

House & Home: Describe what you like most about your home.

Sophie Conran: It’s where I spend most of my favourite time puttering about with my kids or relaxing with a friend. It’s multifunctional and has different moods in different areas; the kitchen is fun and bright (with bright pink walls), while the bedroom is tranquil.

H&H: How would you describe your sense of style?

SC: I think I am a little eccentric. I believe in making environments practical, comfortable, inspiring and creative. I like to play with scale and perception to add a little humour.

H&H: Are you a collector of anything?

SC: Antique kitchen equipment. I’ve always rummaged around in antique shops and must have started collecting bits and bobs from about the age of 12. I have to limit myself as I’m running out of space.

H&H: Describe your perfect vacation getaway.

SC: For me, a family holiday in the south of France is ideal. We visit food markets, eat and cook fabulous food, and go to local fêtes.

H&H: What city do you find inspiring at the moment?

SC: London is so vibrant. There’s always something going on — new exhibitions, buildings, theatre or events like the Frieze [Art Fair]. It has a fantastic mix of cultures and landscapes, perfect for whatever mood I’m in.

H&H: What’s your idea of a perfect night out?

SC: A Chinese meal with lots of friends, kids and chatter.

H&H: Whose personal style do you most admire?

SC: My mum’s. She’s a talented gardener and [food] writer, and is always stylish in a very ethereal way.

H&H: Do you have a current obsession?

SC: I’m extremely tidy. I like order; it gives me a huge amount of pleasure to have things in the correct place.

H&H: What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

SC: My dad gave me shares in his company. I bought my flat with the money from them.

H&H: Name two people you’d love to have at a dinner party.

SC: My children, Felix and Coco.

H&H: Describe what makes you feel rich, fulfilled and happy.

SC: A meal with my family.

H&H: What makes you get out of bed in the morning?

SC: My alarm clock.