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Guest blogger Sophie Conran on spring bulbs and her new cutlery range 9 March, 2010

Posted by sophieconran in mydeco guest blogger.
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Hello, I am Sophie Conran, home body and mum of two gorgeous kids. Over the next four weeks, I am going to be writing a blog and I really hope you can join me!

Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

I write for two fabulous magazines: Junior, for whom I have been doing the yummy food pages for about 3 years, and more recently House Beautiful, which is really great fun – check out the current issue for some special Mother’s Day ideas.

One simple gift idea is to group together a collection of white vases and jugs and fill them with irises and daffodils – the bulbs are really easy to plant and the colours look stunning. For something more subtle, try filling them with white narcissus and hydrangeas. Have a look at Candida’s blog on my spring bulb workshop for more tips and inspiration.

As well as writing, I also work with a number of businesses as a designer. I have created a range of tableware with Portmeirion, some wonderful wallpaper with Arthouse and a range of elegant cutlery with Arthur Price, soon to be launched at John Lewis:

Image credit: Sophie Conran

I’ve been working closely with Tony and Simon for the past few months and am really excited about the launch.

Next week, I will be talking about my countryside retreats, so watch this space!

Exclusive: Celebrate Mother’s Day with Sophie Conran’s best bulb tips 9 March, 2010

Posted by CandidaB in Candida's blog.
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Image credit: Candida Balfour

To herald the arrival of Spring,  and prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, myself and a handful of keen florists joined Sophie Conran at the Clifton Nurseries for a crash course in using bulbs, courtesy of The Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Centre.

Image credit: Candida Balfour

Having the least green fingers of anyone I know, I was dreading falling behind at the first hurdle. Luckily, Sophie was the perfect teacher, and for once I saw gardening and planting bulbs not as rocket science, but as a hobby I could really see myself getting into… Aided, I am sure, by miniature Hummingbird cupcakes and champagne before midday.

Image credit: Candida Balfour

The ideas Sophie presented were pretty much foolproof: take some bulbs, untangle the roots, plant them in soil or gravel in your container of choice and watch them bloom.

If you are using a transparent container, gravel is a great alternative to soil. I for one had no idea that bulbs could grow without soil, but apparently they do just as well in gravel.

If you are using a basket or china pot (my favourite suggestions were a souffle dish or tea cup – a wellington boot was even proposed) normal potting soil will do.

Sophie’s top tips: use the firmest bulbs, cover soil with moss for a stunning final touch, and use old tea bags or gravel to keep moisture in.

The end results were very encouraging. My irises, surrounding a centrepiece of white tulips, bloomed just as they should have, surrounded by green, bouncy moss.

I can now officially garden!

Image credit: Candida Balfour

mydeco chats to…Sophie Conran 6 January, 2010

Posted by vickyharrison in Interviews, Vicky's blog.
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Image credit: Sophie Conran

As the only daughter of Sir Terence Conran, Sophie was thrust into the design limelight at an early age. She talks exclusively to mydeco about how to get rid of the blues, rifling through other people’s skips and what her father doesn’t like about her porcelain range.

I live… in a spacious, three-bedroom family home in Bayswater. I bought it 20 years ago when it was about seven bedsits.

When I was little... I really wanted a four poster bed. I would draw my ideal house and do up dolls houses. My brothers were more interested in sport. I remember making peg dolls, umbrellas and painting clay. From the Habitat days, we always had new products at home which made me think design from an early age. Sebastian and Jasper made me a dolls house out of a beehive when I was six.

Image credit: Sophie Conran

My style is… classic with a modern take; relaxed and colourful. Things should be fun and functional. I like to maximise light and wish my windows were floor to ceiling.

I love my… porcelain, white footed comport on my kitchen table. It’s always filled with fruit (or jelly) but can go in the oven, microwave and freezer.

My family… are very supportive, especially my brothers. Jasper [the fashion designer] is an incredible business mentor to me. Sebastian [the product designer] taught me how to do PowerPoint and Ned [the artist] taught me how to use Photoshop. Tom [the restaurateur] helps with my cookbooks.

To update a room instantly… spring clean and buy a big bunch of flowers like English country roses, all in different colours. And clean your windows.

My house is… always developing. Most recently, I bought a tiny flat next door which has been converted into my gorgeous new office. It was grotty but is now lovely. I have an 80cm diameter ball light made out of white glass flowers from Rainbow London. I love it.

Making a house a home… is dependent on the person in it and the amount of love present. I don’t have photos around, but keep my house alive with fresh fruit and flowers from Wild at Heart.

Image credit: Sophie Conran

Away from the rest of the world is… my bedroom. I sleep well there and like sitting in bed reading the papers in the morning and books at night. There are no computers, no phone and no hustle and bustle. It’s so relaxing.

On my wish list is… an enormous Chris Ofili painting. I visited one of his exhibitions at the Serpentine. I was feeling quite blue and came out thinking the world was a wonderful place. There is real joy in his work. I don’t know if I’ll ever own one, but it’s good to dream.

Tomorrow’s trend ispastels. We’ve had the strong colours like purple and teal, it’s now time for pastels. They are mood enhancing, light and fresh.

My proudest creations are… my children, of course.

Art at home is mostly… pop art from the Seventies that I have collected over the years, been given or found in skips. I shop in Cork St and England and Co in Westbourne Grove. The Affordable Art fair and Frieze are really exciting.

If there was a fire at home, I would grab… my Le Creuset Pot which I have had for years. It was the first decent bit of kitchen equipment I bought. And the huge kitchen clock hanging above the Aga, which is one of a kind. I would really want to take my Aga, although it would be problematic getting it down the stairs.

My father said that what he didn’t like about my range… was that he didn’t design it himself. He told me that when it launched. It means a huge amount that he is proud. I respect his judgement, he is wonderful.

Image credit: Sophie Conran

Shop for products by Sophie Conran.

Sophie Conran has joined mydeco! See her profile.

Thursday’s news: Glittering stoves, art mysteries solved and a football fanatic’s perfect pad 24 September, 2009

Posted by lucindaeverett in Daily news.
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Today the mydeco team are very excited. Why? Because we’re heading to 100% Design to check out the latest designs from new and established talent. We’ll report as soon as we’re back at our desks – promise! But to keep you going until we return, here’s the latest design news from the world wide web of wonder:

The Times: New flats in the old Arsenal stadium are pitch perfect

london-flats-credit-times-online

Image credit: The Times

Love football? We may have the perfect flat for you. The Gunners’ old stadium at Highbury has been transformed into 724 spacious apartments overlooking the pitch  – now a smart landscaped garden. Solar panels on the huge roofs keep the development eco and the fuel bills low. There’s underground parking, a gym with pool beneath the private gardens and a crèche. Score.

Archiseek: Two Dublin buildings win major architectural awards

Moco Loco: We love the Heritage Boy range by Lee Broom

Moco Loco: Get toasty with this modern indoor stove

indoor-stove-credit-mocoloco

Image credit: Moco Loco

How beautiful is this indoor stove? I love its clean lines, crisp white exterior and the glinting, reflective brass within. The chimney free creation is the brainchild of Fredrik Hyltén-Cavallius and burns ethanol instead of wood. This means it gives off no smoke or soot and can be placed wherever you like without having to worry about dirtying up your walls. Put it next to your bath for added relaxation or cuddle up in bed with your loved one and watch the romantic flames flicker as you drift off. Lovely.

The Real Estalker: Billy Joel sells (almost) everything to divorce third wife

Cool Hunting: Artist Tim Bavington’s latest show is rocking

Wallpaper*: The Wallpaper chair arch – how did they do it?

wallpaper-chair-arch-credit-wallpaper

Image credit: Wallpaper*

Last week I told you about the beautiful chair arch on display at the V&A. If you’ve been down to check it out and have been wondering how Wallpaper* put the stunning piece together, wonder no more. Their website now has pictures and a video of the arch in production. Very impressive stuff.

Design Week: Sebastian Conran leaves Conran & Partners

And finally…Sebastian Conran is set to leave Conran & Partners, where he heads Studio Conran, to set up his own consultancy. He says, ‘for some time I have been yearning to “do my own thing” like my brother Jasper and sister Sophie‘. He will set up shop in west London with a completely new design team, initially focusing on product/industrial design and merchandise development. Best of luck to him – I’m sure that with his talent, the venture will be a huge success.

Playing a designer deck of cards 19 August, 2009

Posted by Annie Deakin in Annie's blog.
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With summer scorching for once, my thoughts are turning to holidays in the sun, drinking chilled wine and playing card games outside… which brings me nicely to a cool design exhibition that I’ve just heard about.

Check out Gerald Scarfe’s Jack of hearts:
shelter-exhibition-credit-Gerald-Scarfe-Jack-of-Hearts
Image credit: Shelter exhibition

Famous artists and cutting edge designers have created pieces of art based on a playing card for the House of Cards campaign for the housing charity Shelter. The designs will be auctioned in aid of Shelter.

Artists involved include Rankin (King of Diamonds), Vivienne Westwood (Queen of spades), Damien Hirst (Ace of Hearts), David Bailey (King of Clubs), and several designers including Sophie Conran and Sir Terence Conran, Ron Arad and Amanda Levete architects. They’re each creating their own unique representation of their card using any medium, size or shape so it’s set to be a very diverse exhibition.

So take note in your diary: the full collection will be shown at London’s Haunch of Venison gallery from Thursday 24 – Monday 28 September. Anyone for designer Snap?

And Barbara Hulanicki’s card:
shelter-exhibition-credit-barbara-hulaniki
Image credit: Shelter exhibition