Interviewing Sophie Conran


The only daughter of the celebrated Conran dynasty – Sophie Conran has always placed family at the heart of everything she does. Laura Henderson catches up with the homemaker extraordinaire in this Sophie Conran Interview.

While most of us conform to climbing the property ladder as life circumstances change – Sophie Conran has charted an entirely different course, opting instead to tweak and tinker with her stunning three-bedroom apartment in Bayswater as and when the need arises. 25 years on and she still “loves” where she lives, perhaps even more so than the day she first moved in on her 21st birthday.

“The house has seen plenty of changes down the years,” she explains, “from building a loft for my teenage son Felix, as he’d shared for a long time with my daughter Coco, to setting up an office as I love working from home – it’s constantly reinventing itself. Our neighbourhood is such a great place to live too – I’ve no hankering to move anywhere else.” Even when her business grew to such an extent recently that she needed more space, rather than renting an office nearby, Sophie bought up an adjoining flat in her apartment block and incorporated it into her home.

A busy working mum with numerous creative irons in the fire – cookery writing and product design rank high on the list of accomplishments, a creative combination she clearly loves. “I have turned my love of cooking and home into my work. As a tot I scuttled between my Dad, Terence, in his design studio and my Mum, Caroline, in her kitchen. These two incredible pillars have provided the inspiration for my current blend of food and design.”

But the Conran name hasn’t given Sophie a fast-track pass to success. Instead, hard graft and application mixed with a healthy dollop of street-wise common sense have stood her in good stead. After leaving school, Sophie joined forces with her brother Tom (who now owns a string of gastro-pubs) to run a catering company, an experience that sowed the seeds of her ‘foodie’ followings, leading her to write her first book Sophie Conran Pies. “I spend a lot of my time concocting things in the kitchen,” she explains – “it’s therapeutic and fun.”

Before penning cookery lines, Sophie rolled up her sleeves and got stuck into several business ventures as a milliner for haute couture hat designer Stephen Jones, a garden designer, as well as several successful editorial stints in the magazine world including at In Style and LivingEtc. She also worked for her father's Conran Shop and with her brother, fashion designer Jasper, before branching out and creating her own design range with an eclectic mix of products spanning from cutlery to wallpaper.

Multi-tasking is part and parcel of daily life, with a resolute focus on what she knows and loves best – homemaking.  In addition to her Portmeirion tableware range and her crystal collection in collaboration with Royal Worcester, she has teamed up with Burgon and Ball on a range of funky garden tools and accessories. She adds:  “Growing up with parents who were enthusiastic gardeners, I have always savoured the peace and beauty to be found in the garden. My ideal weekend is pottering around in the flower beds weeding and planting, topped off with a visit to the garden centre.” Her outdoor product range, she adds, is “evolving naturally”: “We’ve introduced stylish and fun ‘bolt-on’ products including birdhouses and feeders, barbecue sets and garden games compendiums – we even have party bucket sets with candles and picnic accessories – it’s all about celebrating the great outdoors.”

Drawing inspiration from al fresco has also helped in the creative process for her interiors line too, with wallpaper collections for Arthouse for B&Q, featuring dramatic red and black florals, with her range of gloss colours for freestanding baths, inspired by her memories and love of “flowers and water”. She adds: "I get the most satisfaction out of being creative, whether it’s through porcelain, designing cutlery, or wallpaper: they’re all such exciting areas to explore. Most of my designs are fairly traditional with a contemporary twist – the key is creating something that is relevant for the way we live today.”

As to the future: “Working from home has always been part of the plan – long may it continue. I’m a homebody at heart,” she laughs.  “That was my upbringing - with very hands-on parents, so it has always been my value system; there you have it - home and kids. I believe in enjoying every moment and in creating a beautiful world for the family, with warmth, simplicity and love. 'One life, live it well'.”

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