Terence Conran is one of the world's best-known designers, restaurateurs and retailers. Born in 1931, he founded the Habitat chain, which brought good, modern design within reach of the general population. After the merger of Habitat with Mothercare and the subsequent additions of Richard Shops, Heal's, British Home Stores and Blazer, Conran created the retail group Storehouse, from which he retired in 1990. In the 1990s, Conran built another group of companies involved in design, retail, restaurants and hotels. Conran Holdings, of which Terence is Chairman, started its life in 1990 as a restaurant, store, and a design studio, all managed out of an apartment at Butlers Wharf. It has grown into a multi-divisional international business with restaurants and shops in cities throughout the world. The restaurant arm, founded in 1991 as Conran Restaurants, created D&D London, one of Britain's most dynamic and successful restaurant groups. Additionally, the group has established over 20 restaurants in London, Paris and New York.
All of these restaurants are designed by Conran & Partners and reflect Conran's reputation for creating contemporary interiors in historically important buildings. The Conran Shop, representing the retail arm, now consists of eight stores located in London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka, and sells a carefully chosen selection of contemporary, well-designed furniture and home furnishings, much of it exclusive. In 2000, Conran Holdings in partnership with Wyndham International opened London's Great Eastern Hotel, which became one of London's most successful hotels. Situated in the heart of London, the media has deemed it a "modern classic". Built in a striking Grade 2 listed building, the Great Eastern is a combination of Victorian elegance, luxury and charm mixed with contemporary facilities, design and first rate service.
In addition to his successes in the design, retail and travel worlds, Conran is a prolific writer whose informative books have sold over 20 million copies worldwide. In September 1983 he embarked on a joint publishing venture with Octopus Books under the name Conran Octopus to produce a range of books about interior design, cookery, gardening and crafts that broadly reflect Conran's design philosophy and lifestyle. Conran Octopus continues to publish Conran's books, which include Terence Conran's New House Book, Terence Conran's France, The Essential House Book, The Essential Garden Book, Terence Conran on Design, The Ultimate House Book, Easy Living, Terence Conran on Restaurants, Terence Conran on London, Small Spaces, Classic Conran, a cook book co-written with his wife Vicki, Terence Conran on Bathrooms, Storage: Get Organised and most recently, How to Live in Small Spaces.
In 1980 Terence established the Conran Foundation, a charitable fund dedicated to educating the public and British industry on the values of industrial design. At the end of 1981, the Boilerhouse opened at the Victoria & Albert Museum. In July 1989, almost three years after the Boilerhouse closed, the Design Museum opened in Butlers Wharf, on the south bank of the Thames, close to Tower Bridge. The Design Museum was the first in the world to be dedicated to the promotion and examination of design. Terence is currently the Provost of the Royal College of Art in London and was awarded The Prince Philip Designer of the Year award in 2004 for his services to design.