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In store at The Conran Shop

Stephen Briars, creative director of The Conran Shop since 2016, has brought the knowledge and expertise he gained at Urban Outfitters, Louis Vuitton and Paul Smith to his role. He tells us about The Conran Shop’s history, top products and future plans

Ximena Daneri
Ximena Daneri ,

‘Sir Terence Conran’s lifetime impact on the world of design has been extensive. As a designer, his influence extends to stores, brands, restaurants, architecture, the Boundary hotel, co-founding the Design Museum and writing over 50 books on how we live today. Conran has a long heritage and a great legacy; The Conran Shop sees his love of the best products from around the world coming together in one place. That makes it an exciting company to work for.

‘I worked as director of visual merchandising at Louis Vuitton to curate the brand’s window concepts and implement the delivery of in-store experience in more than 400 stores worldwide. Coming from a luxury brand, I can see the story we have to tell at The Conran Shop. Most recently I was the creative director at Urban Outfitters, where I opened 30 stores and elevated the creative content and experience. Prior to that I had the pleasure of working at Paul Smith, which was a supremely creative experience.

‘The biggest challenge is working out which stories to use. The richness of the brand means there is so much history to explore. At the same time there is so much great design out there. We have to curate and edit all of these products to fit into our stores in London and Paris. Our website is a little easier to stock as we can place so many more things there.

‘The Conran Shop has established itself as one of the leading lifestyle retailers in the world, with 11 stores across the world offering an eclectic and handpicked collection of gifts, furniture, lighting and personal accessories from some of the world’s most respected designers and emerging talents. With its dedication to providing an unbeatable shopping experience and its carefully curated products, expert interior advice and personal services, The Conran Shop is the go-to place for any type of gift or interiors inspiration.

‘The first shop dates back to 1974. At the time, Terence Conran had encountered huge success with the launch of the iconic Habitat store and The Conran Shop served very much as the icing on the cake. Its edit of the best interior items and accessories from around the world was simply unparalleled. We have around 100 design-savvy employees. Their knowledge of and excitement for our products is impressive.

Our Chelsea store has a fine history; it’s a huge space. The building is the original 1911 London headquarters of the Michelin Tyre Company. The exterior and interior is stunning in its unique design. Under Terence Conran’s grand remodel in 1987, the original showroom became the Bibendum restaurant. The ground floor, now The Conran Shop, is the old depot, which slopes gently from one end to the other to allow the tyres to roll naturally down to the old forecourt. You can still admire the glazed tiles of racing cars from 120 years ago.

‘Our Marylebone High Street store is very different – an old stable from the outside, with a modern, bright interior. It houses the same beautiful edit of products and our newly refurbished café, The Conran Kitchen, where you can relax and take coffee. The building’s glazed atrium takes you up to the apartment with its mix of exceptionally designed and vintage furniture, and its own garden terrace.

‘Our signature product changes all the time, but right now you have to check out the Lumio book light; we sell them as fast we can get them. It looks like a book with a wooden cover, which opens to reveal a beautiful arc of illuminated pages. We like it so much we are working with Lumio founder Max Gunawan to make a version exclusively for The Conran Shop.

‘I shop at Selfridges, as it is simply the best department store in the world – and yes, we have a store there too. It is modern and dynamic, always changing, always fresh. Chiltern Street in Marylebone is close by, anchored by the vibrant Chiltern Firehouse hotel. I like to pick up simple, beautiful British-made men’s and women’s clothing from Sunspel, a brand that goes all the way back to the 1860s; drop into the cute Monocle café; and visit Trunk, for specially curated pieces from around the world.’

The Conran Shop, 55 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 5HS, +44 (0)20 7723 2223



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