Style | The Aesthete

Terence Conran talks personal style

Entrepreneur, restaurateur and the father of modern British design, Terence Conran opened the first Habitat in London in 1964.

February 08 2010
Maria Shollenbarger

My personal style signifier is, to most people, probably my “Conran Blue” shirts – although I would prefer to be known for my colourful, stripy socks by Richard James; they always bring a smile to my face. Richard James, 29 Savile Row, London W1 (020-7434 0605; www.richardjames.co.uk).

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Michel Bras’ place in Laguiole, in the Aveyron region. He runs the beautiful restaurant and hotel with his son and the food is exceptional, following traditional rural recipes that he has been cooking since he was a child. I ate squid with red pepper, a lettuce soup with large, meaty oysters, and a salad made with local hedgerow plants and flowers. The last is very unlike the sort of thing I’d normally eat, let alone enjoy, but it was an absolutely supreme dish. Menus from €111. Route de l’Aubrac, 12210 Languiole, France (+335-6551 1820; www.michel-bras.com).

The last music I purchased was The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell for my wife. We saw the opera at Glyndebourne and loved it; we enjoy listening to it in the car.

A recent “find” is a delightful shop in Paris called Merci. It’s located in a sunlit loft and sells interesting things from all over the world. It feels a bit like a treasure trove run by fleas – it’s got the feel of that sort of market. 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, Paris 75003 (+331-4277 0033; www.merci-merci.com).

The last thing I bought and loved was a 1m-high sculpture of a rather handsome Monsieur Bibendum. An acquaintance who knows how much I love him brought it to the restaurant to show me because he thought I’d like it, and I bought it on the spot.

The thing I’m eyeing next is a property in Bloomsbury – I’m not saying what it’s for yet.

The book on my bedside table is The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher – brilliant ideas jump out at you from every page, and I find it inspirational. It demonstrates a completely fresh approach to life that we could all do with from time to time. Phaidon Press, £24.95.

The grooming staples I’m never without are Acqua di Parma, Listerine and Sensodyne. Acqua di Parma, £41 for 50ml, 01932-233 861; www.acquadiparma.com.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Marylebone High Street. It is a quite remarkable place along which to stroll, with diversity, individuality and a sensitive choice of shops, restaurants and cafés. I love The Ginger Pig [a butcher’s] and La Fromagerie, and the farmers’ market sells the very best fruit, vegetables and game. And even if you are not a big reader, the Edwardian bookshop Daunt is well worth a visit because it’s such a beautiful space. Daunt Books, 83 Marylebone High Street, London W1 (020-7224 2295; www.dauntbooks.co.uk). La Fromagerie, 2-6 Moxon Street, London W1 (020-7935 0341; www.lafromagerie.co.uk). The Ginger Pig, 8-10 Moxon Street, London W1 (020-7935 7788; www.thegingerpig.co.uk).

The place that inspires me is Paris. After 50 years of fairly regular visits, I still get a thrill from it. The restaurants, the bars, the shops, the beautiful buildings, the atmosphere: it all somehow seems to encapsulate the idea of relaxed, intelligent, easy living.

An object I would never part with is a bowl made for me by the Japanese ceramic artist Kawase Shinobu. Being a potter myself, I can really respect what he has made; it is complex and fine, and I like its shape – the way two lips have been made on it. The fact that he made it for me makes it even more special. At Joan B Mirviss, 39 East 78th Street, New York 10075 (+1212-799 4021; www.mirviss.com).

An indulgence I’d never forego is my cigars – I smoke four Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No 2 cigars a day, and find them more pleasurable now than I have ever done. And as native oysters and cèpes are now in season, I shall certainly be indulging. The Cigar Smokers Club, 020-7471 8400; cigars.co.uk/locations.

My favourite website is probably designhotels.com, which I find is good and full of useful information about beautiful places to stay. Generally, though, I am not a huge fan of the internet; I prefer to read magazines and newspapers.