Style | The Aesthete

Terence Conran talks personal style: Part Two

Further tasteful revelations from the father of British design.

February 11 2010
Maria Shollenbarger

My style icons are Andrée Putman, David Chipperfield and Charles Eames. I would also add the work of the Bauhaus as well as the Shaker furniture artisans, who made no concessions in achieving perfect simplicity with precision, craft or finesse. Their work remains so popular because it is as brilliant and relevant today as it was then. They seemed to offer a blueprint of how to live a better style of life, which has always seemed important to the work I try to do.

The best souvenir I’ve brought home recently was a suntan. And a magnum of eau de vie de vieille prune.

The artist whose work I would collect if I could – and I actually do – is Eduardo Paolozzi. He was a dear friend and I have lots of his pieces at home and in my restaurants, all gifts from him. His work crosses so many boundaries – sculpture, painting, textiles – and is full of imagination, colour, inventiveness and humour. Sims Reed Gallery, The Economist Building, 30 Bury Street, London SW1 (020-7930 5111; www.simsreed.com).

My favourite room is a large room in my country house that I use as an office. It’s filled with books and models of my furniture designs, a huge desk, a comfortable sofa, an open wood fire and views over the fields and river. It is a very creative space in which to work.

In my fridge you’ll always find chilled white burgundy, milk and leftover suppers to eat up.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the last year is the Amandari Resort in Bali. We had our own private swimming pool and the suite had stunning views out over the Ayung Valley. The interiors were luxurious but maintained a very local charm, which I always appreciate. The resort is near the artist community of Ubud, where there’s a remarkable sense of enterprise taking over the place. The sense that virtually everybody was creating something was uplifting. On a more modest level, I also loved the Grand Hôtel des Bains, in Locquirec in Brittany. It overlooks the sea, and when we were there it was filled with French intellectuals, which gave it a very interesting and different feel. Amanresorts, +94777-743 500; www.amanresorts.com. Grand Hôtel des Bains, 15 Rue de l’Eglise, Locquirec, France (+332-9867 4102; www.grand-hotel-des-bains.com).

The best gift I’ve received recently was a photograph sent to me of one of my grandchildren on their last day of school before they broke up for the summer. The most expensive, exquisite gift in the world could not have made me any happier.

And the best gift I’ve given was an antique gold necklace for my stepdaughter Hattie’s 21st birthday. It is not easy buying a present for young people these days; but I chose it myself at SJ Phillips, who is a wonderful, helpful jeweller. I was very pleased with it – and more importantly, so was Hattie. 139 New Bond Street, London W1 (020-7629 6261; www.sjphillips.com).

The people I rely on for grooming and style include a tailor called David Chambers; he used to be on Savile Row and he is exceptional. He visits me regularly to take measurements and look at cloth samples, and then makes me wonderful suits and jackets. davidchambers11@virginmedia.com.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I’d want to live in is Tokyo. I love the fascinating balance of the traditional and the contemporary. There is a great, collective desire for reinvention that gives it a cutting edge. I love the energy, buzz and sheer scale of it – and the fact that in an hour the bullet train can whisk you away to the tranquillity of Nasu with its hot water pools.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a farmer or a gardener combining livestock, market gardening and architectural landscaping. I don’t think I could ever get rid of the entrepreneur in me, so I would probably set up a farm shop or restaurant too, selling my produce directly.