This week marked the last of our Design & Technology lectures, our final speaker was GSA Product Design lecturer Rachel Sleight, who again spoke to us about her experiences working in design.
Rachel’s own journey through design was an interesting one, she sure has done a lot and it was clear that her thing was materials. She likes to experiment with them, use unconventional materials for conventional things. And she was very particular about how materials should be treated, they should be left, as much as possible, in their natural form and finish.
Rachel has recently started to experiment with making her own backs and she showed us some fantastic new materials she had been working with. There was a fabric which was made from slate, I’ve no idea how they got it so thin and flexible but it was extraordinary. Then there was cork material which felt amazing, I would buy a bag made out of that any day. Then of course there was leather, lots and lots of leather!
For a time Rachel worked as a designer for Habitat and she spoke to us about the man who set it up, Terence Conran. I had never heard of him before, I recognised his name from having seen it on things in Marks & Spencers, one of my Granny’s favourite shops, one of everyone’s Granny’s favourite shops I think, but I had never actually heard about him.
Man have I been missing out.
Through his design career and through the many shops that he’s set up, Terence has changed British culture enormously. So many of the things that we now take for granted and the aesthetic choices we make in our homes are down to him. Even the way in which home ware is sold to us is because of how Terence started it. I’m telling you, he really is some man!
Terence was the first person to sell duvets in Britain, yes, Terence Conran is the man responsible for our night-time comfort. He was also the first to sell woks and garlic crushers. He taught the British public about Bauhaus style, modular shelving and those ‘pops’ of colour that have become so important to the way we decorate our homes.
It’s crazy to think that one man had such an impact on the mindset of an entire country, that one man changed so much. What’s even crazier is how few people know about him!
I also love his approach. His approach is to aim for timelessness. Why? Well,if something doesn’t date people won’t throw it away so quickly- it’s as simple as that.
One thing we may disagree on however is his opinion on clutter, he is not a fan. Me on the other hand, I am a couple disasters away from becoming a full-blown hoarder. I am an every surface covered in something, don’t throw it away, it might come in useful some day kind of girl and I like it that way. But Terence does have a good quote about clutter that I may at some point attempt to apply to my life, you never know, I may become a minimalist yet!
“A room full of unnecessary clutter is not pleasant to sit in, so clear it of everything. When you fill it again be ruthlessly selective about what goes back in. Your quality of life will be much improved.”
So when you go to bed tonight, surrounded by your clutter and wrapped in your warm, warm duvet remember the man who made it possible.