Jasper Conran: my design London

Jasper Conran, designer and CEO of The Conran Shop, reveals his favourite London-based designers, fabric shops, furniture and lighting.
Jasper Conran
© Matt Writtle
Jasper Conran is the chairman, chief executive and creative director of The Conran Shop
As the chairman, chief executive and creative director of The Conran Shop, no one is more aware than Jasper Conran that he has big shoes to fill. Like his father, Sir Terence Conran, he is keen to champion cutting-edge British design.

Since launching his debut fashion collection more than 30 years ago at the age of only 19, Jasper has developed business expertise to match his creative skills. His success was celebrated in 2008 when he received an OBE for services to retail.

My London home
I live just north of Hyde Park in an area where I have spent most of my London life. It is a first-floor apartment in one of the great Cubitt houses. I have the whole floor which comprises three interconnecting large rooms.

When I am in London I work constantly, so at the end of the day I want to step into something neutral and calm. It is my private space and bolt hole in a very peaceful part of the capital, with Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens close by.

I have slightly rebelled against being stereotypically Conran with my interior design at home. I bend and twist my things in a different way. If I was given the chance I would create a stunning apartment on the roof of the Bibendum building in Fulham Road and add a beautiful roof garden to it. I always thought it was a huge mistake on my father's part to turn it into offices and not a flat.

Best fabric finds
Polly Lyster (dyeworks.co.uk) makes handcrafted and innovative textiles. Chelsea Harbour is a wonderful place to buy fabrics or find inspiration.

Jasper Conran Polly Lyster
Jasper is a fan of innovative textiles of Polly Lyster
Shopping Conran
I would urge people to look at the Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand lights. I am so thrilled that these are in our shops. They are works of art. I also love the Russell Pinch Imo stools. They are made in England and designed by a British person. I am bringing British design back.

Ultimate escapism
This city has an extraordinary number of great outdoor spaces that we are so lucky to have access to. I find London's parks perfect places to escape — mainly Hyde Park, and the Serpentine, and Kensington Gardens; they are so close to my home.

Chelsea Physic Garden (chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk) is a tranquil and peaceful place.

Inspiring designers
I absolutely adore Charlotte Perriand. She is one of the most influential furniture designers of the early modern movement but her work remains very relevant today. Lawrence Lek (lawrencelek.com) was one of the designers in residence at the Design Museum last year. He combines art, sculpture and architecture with video, audio and text to create wonderful products and structures. He is the new Thomas Heatherwick — keep an eye on him. My father was the first person to really discover Heatherwick at the RCA.

Jasper Conran: design inspiration
Bringing back British design at Conran with the Imo folding stool, by Russell Pinch, £369 at The Conran Shop
Top technology
I am a big fan of Apple products. Taking photographs on my phone has changed my life. It is great for capturing ideas for design inspiration, too. If only I had owned a camera phone all my life. I capture anything I see that I love or am interested in. Jonathan Ive [London-born, senior vice-president of industrial design at Apple], I love you.

Fashion forward
I am a Balenciaga man. I admire the sculptural qualities of their clothes. I have never liked fashion, I like clothes and the construction of them. Cloth has always been my love. I started my fashion business with a sewing machine and a pair of scissors. I made very simple clothes because I wasn't a very good pattern cutter. I had to build a company from nothing and felt that I should plough my own path and not go where my father was. I spent most of the early years of my career going from the West End to factories in Dalston which was not the groovy, marvellous, fabulous place it is today. Fashion is an ephemeral thing, not a career.

Then and now
I trained at Parsons school of art and design in New York — at 15 I was the youngest student they'd ever had. It was a time of disco, I loved it all. When I came back to London it was a real shock. People think of Swinging London but the city I returned to was going through a crass time in the Seventies. I grew up on the three-day week when you didn't have any electricity. Now it is a design hub.

Jasper Conran: design inspiration
Jasper loves this classic projector light by Le Corbusier, £789 at The Conran Shop
Setting the scene
My mixed career works for me creatively. Give me an opera, a play or a ballet and I am happy. I have designed a lot of shows with companies such as the Royal Ballet and it has been wonderful training. Having worked in theatre you look at everything in a different light — from lighting to colour effect. London renters should take inspiration from the capital's stages and productions.

Latest design project
The Conran Shop in Marylebone has a new look and now features a rooftop apartment and Conran kitchen. I have really enjoyed designing the windows, they bring out the naughty side of me. I hope the residents of Marylebone will be quite happy with what they see.

My current role at Conran
I have not given up the day job, I have just assumed another job as the chairman, the chief executive and creative director of Conran. Some might call that greedy. I am a doer but I do everything with a lot of help. My father, brothers, sister and stepmother put me up for the role. We are a very close family with heritage and responsibility. I have always been the one designing and selling the product and now people have to design and sell to me. It is a dream job with a lot of travel — and stress.

Top tips for transforming a room
Be bold and mix vintage furniture with contemporary design classics to create a timeless look. If something makes you happy and reflects your style, then just follow your heart. If you want to fill your rooms with Spanish dollies, you have my full support.

Most coveted design object
A Brancusi bronze head would be perfect (brancusi.com). When I first started going to Paris as an adult I would visit Brancusi's studio, which used to be right next to the Pompidou centre. I was entranced.

Jasper Conran: design inspiration
Jasper would love a bronze head sculpture by Constantin Brancusi, like this one, his Sleeping Muse from 1910 - though similar heads by the Romanian sculptor have sold for $12.6 million at auction
Favourite piece of home memorabilia
My favourite, perhaps most sentimental piece is a little metal Mickey Mouse made by my cousin Miranda Morrison many years ago. It follows me around from place to place and always sits on a mantelpiece.

Favourite London museum
Sir John Soane's Museum in Holborn (soane.org) is a very personal and special museum like no other. I was once invited to dinner there and the whole place was candlelit for our tour. It was the most exquisite thing. Objects were lit up and the whole place took on a new ambience, and looked as it would have done when Soane was alive. He designed this house to live in but also as a setting for his antiquities, his architectural designs and his works of art. I have a Soane bathroom in my house in the country which is completely different from my London apartment.

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