From pies to pottery, Sophie Conran has enjoyed an unusual career trajectory. Yes, the only daughter of designer, restaurateur, retailer and writer Sir Terence Conran started out making pies. Sophie Conran’s four brothers work in fashion, food, art and design, and excelling in your chosen field seems to be the only option in this multitalented family. Needless to say, her gourmet food duly scooped four medals at the Great Taste Awards.
A passion for interiors soon won out, however, and 12 years ago she launched a range of kitchen, glass and tableware with British pottery company Portmeirion. True to Conran form, it was hugely successful and today it’s sold in 33 countries. Next came wallpaper, then cutlery, followed by garden tools and accessories. Sophie Conran the interiors brand was born and now sells everything from glassware to gloves, lighting to linen. It all comes back to family though, and it’s clear that these diverse talents come from both her dad and mum, whom she describes as “sweet and fabulous. A gardener, intellectual, cookery writer, artist, fashion icon and all-round good egg.”
Describe your style: I would say I have a certain formality but can also be quite irreverent. I have a sense of fun and try to put joy in everything I do.
Three luxury brands you love and why: PAD Berkeley Square, firstly. I am lucky enough to be invited to this art and design event every year and it has all the top art, antiques and jewellery dealers in one place. It’s totally inspiring from a designer’s perspective as it represents the best in art and design through the ages. The S.J.Phillips jewellery store on New Bond Street is just delicious. And Claridge’s – they just make you feel lovely, welcome and so special. I have lots of happy memories there – my parents took me for dinner for my birthday as a child and I was instantly smitten. My brother Jasper has his fashion shows in the ballroom and my daughter Coco has had her special birthday teas there.
What are your little luxuries in life? A hot bath, a beautiful garden, great sheets, walks in the countryside, visiting a museum, going to the theatre, sharing delicious food with friends in fantastic restaurants, cooking with great ingredients, living in London with the world on my doorstep.
What are your everyday accessories: I have a Cartier Tank watch that was given to me by my mother. I always wear my gold Fitbit. I wear earrings everyday – Kiki McDonough is my favourite designer for everyday wear, and, of course, my fabulous wedding and engagement rings that always remind me of my amazing husband.
How would you show someone a good time in London? We have amazing theatres, especially the Royal Opera House, and exceptional restaurants. A trip to the West End is always a great idea, as is a walk in one of our fabulous parks. My brother Tom has the best pub in town so a trip to The Cow for the spectacular seafood platter is usually on the agenda. We happen to live right near Hyde Park so love to have a wander around the sunken garden when it’s in full bloom and then perhaps tea at the beautiful Orangery. The London Eye is always lovely, followed by skating at Somerset House, a cocktail at The Ritz and dinner at The Wolseley.
How do you try and make the world a better place? I try and live my life thoughtfully in everything I do. My business is all about creating a beautiful, happy home for the ones you cherish most – filling it with fun, creativity and making a good life. I believe that happiness at home gives us stability and nurtures the body and soul.
What’s on your bedside table? Lots of books; little sculptures that I have picked up from my travels, including fruit, a couple of chicken netsuke from Japan, guinea fowl and an Indian lady that dances; some beads; a Japanese mirror with drawers filled with little notes from the kids; photos; pens; and a nail kit.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? I’m not very good at taking advice, truth be told, but one piece that has always stayed with me is this: ‘If you aren’t happy with something, change it. If you can’t change it – accept it. If you can’t accept it then let it go’ – I found this to be very useful both in my personal and professional life.