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Sir Terence Conran, Britain's best-known figure in design, home furnishing, and retailing, was the recipient of this year's Design Excellence Award from Collab, a group of design professionals who support the Museum's Modern and Contemporary design collections. In conjunction with the Collab award, the Museum presents Cool Britannia: Recent British Design Selected by Sir Terence Conran. For this installation, Sir Terence has personally selected a variety of recent British cutting-edge designs. Included in Cool Britannia are a stainless steel bathtub, a custom-made bicycle by Alex Moulton, an inflatable screen, a pair of soccer shoes, and a London Tube map made of tactile materials for blind and visually impaired riders.
Terence Conran has stated, "My belief is simply that if reasonable and intelligent people are offered something that is well made, well designed, of a decent quality, and at a price they can afford, then they will like it and buy it." This philosophy has propelled him from art student to industrial designer, furniture maker, international retailer, and founder/director of the largest design consultancy in Europe. The Conran Design Group handles retail, office, product, and graphic design projects throughout the world from offices in London, Paris and Hong Kong. His other major passion is the restaurants he has established, marrying the latest in Pacific Rim fusion cuisine or classic French and Mediterranean fare with the most elegant dining rooms in London.
When Conran opened his first Habitat store on Fulham Road in 1964, it instantly became a central component of "Swinging Sixties" London. Offering everything from furniture to lamps to tea towels, Habitat featured an ambiance in which the grayness of post-war Britain was discarded in favor of a more youthful and energetic style. With the first in a series of Conran Collection Shops opening on London's Circuit Street this year, he is poised to play the same role in the 21st century.