Life as a junior designer is a heady mixture of ambition, creativity and the need to channel ones talent into something tangible. And luck.. Sometimes a star is shining right above ones head, bringing a dash of good fortune and a bright spotlight beaming down onto a moment and an opportunity to be seized and relished. The light certainly did shine when I had the most brilliant peice of fortune to work for a genius of design. A man credited with influencing the way we lived, cooked and ate. The most inspiring, true, designer. Creator. Original thinker. Visionary. Sir Terence Conran. The man who dreamt up the name, NEXT and the look and feel of the stores soon to hit the high street. With his second in command, John Stephenson, together they imagined and then created a new type of clothing shop, designing not only the straight forward brilliant name but the look and feel of these new stores. Sir Terence had just bought Mothercare, BHS and Richard Shops and I was brought in as part of a team of bright young designers to regenerate these brands.
Frankly, Sir Terence was the best boss I ever had. His passing recently, brought tears to my eyes and a heart-felt warmth in my soul. I wrote the following passage as soon as I heard the news. Words straight from the heart. He will be missed. What a legacy he has left us all.
" I was selected to be part of your team at The Design Group. We were based above Heals on a huge floor fizzing with the energy of young designers. You designed those brilliant desks for each designer to work at. You sent beautiful flowers every Monday to our studio. Baskets of apples from your orchard appeared every autumn. You sent us to New York, Paris, Milan, Florence, St Tropez for inspiration. You allowed us total access to a room full of every Pantone pen and paper in existence. The best magazines from around the world landed on our desks each week. Whatever it took to generate inspiration, you gave us. Your rule was we start at 9am and be sure to finish at 5pm. You once told me “if you want to hang up your coat and make a cup of coffee do so before 9.” Discipline.
From time to time we would be whisked off to act as models for the Habitat catalogue. I still have a copy of me in a grass-green dress wearing a red scarf tied around my head, as I smile pretending to cook spaghetti using the latest Habitat (perfect) steel pan. You were always polite. Kind. Thoughtful. Energised. Obsessed. You were the best. Not a week goes by after all those years, that I don’t refer to you, your methods and your focus on design. My love of seeking out the right shade of blue came from you. I honour you, Sir Terence. I always will. RIP."