When Terence Conran opened the first Habitat store on London’s Fulham Road in 1964, it kick-started a revolution in the way people shop for their interiors. And, despite the company’s well-documented ups and downs, Habitat is still coming up with desirable designs, not least of which is a small collection of exclusive pieces launching in store and online from Saturday September 13, and for which there is a special exhibition running until Sunday October 26 at the King’s Road flagship.
The Design Reunion, as this imaginative collection is called, unites six designers who have all previously created pieces for Habitat. Working with Polly Dickens, Habitat’s current creative director, they have now devised seven must-have products to commemorate the store’s 50th anniversary. “We wanted to create a collection that would both celebrate our birthday and become an intrinsic part of our range,” says Dickens. “Each designer has responded in their own inimitable way and it has been fascinating to see the way they have evolved from their earlier design work for Habitat.”
Fifty Leaves, a hand-woven rug (£450, first picture) created by Sarah Campbell, features a different leaf for each year of Habitat’s existence. Campbell, who created textile designs for Habitat in the 1970s with her late sister Susan Collier, has chosen a contemporary palette. “These are ‘now’ colours but give a little nod to the lively designs we painted for Habitat when we first worked with Terence,” she says.
Just as prolific a designer for Habitat is Simon Pengelly, whose tactile Wing table (£1,700) is both aesthetic and functional. “I wanted to create an extending dining table that is honest and pragmatic about its purpose,” he says. “I decided to put the leaves at an angle that very obviously suggests they fold out, making the table’s function its visual identity.”
Meanwhile, Shin Azumi has designed the elegantly minimal Waku bed (£395), whose oak- veneered headboard contrasts with a structural white steel-tube frame. “My favourite part of the design is around the headboard, which is tilted to provide a comfortable surface to lean on,” says Azumi.
More opulently curvaceous is the Smithfield leather armchair (£1,300, third picture) designed by Aaron Probyn and made by Italian craftspeople. “I wanted the chair to feel substantial but light on its feet,” he says. Probyn has also designed a glamorous Tessellate wall lamp (£275, third picture), whose geometric metal shapes can be shifted into larger installations, while Claire Norcross has created a pendant Crystalline light (£295, fourth picture) inspired by the formations of natural crystals. And Tord Boontje, whose Garland light remains one of Habitat’s most iconic designs, has come up with Bouquet (£70, second picture), a romantic, floral-inspired light shade that will surely prove as popular as his earlier bestseller.