Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

The Wisdom of Terence Conran

The best designers tend to be the ones who question the necessity of most of our stuff–who realize most of it is superfluous and the stuff that isn’t should be given great care and attention in terms of its design. England’s Terence–ahem Sir Terence–Conran is one of those designers. Growing up in the wake of WWII, he is a champion of thrift and democratized modern design.


He has brought surprisingly great design to such proletariat outlets as UK’s Habitat (which he founded), Marks & Spencer and JC Penny in the US. He is also an author of 50 books and is infinitely quotable. Here are a few soundbites reflecting Conran’s attitudes and principles: 

  • Hanging onto a bad buy will not redeem the purchase.
  • Any 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.
  • Arguably the only goods people need these days are food and happiness.
  • Good design is probably 98% common sense. Above all, an object must function well and efficiently-and getting that part right requires a good deal of time and attention.
  • In the 70s, when I was doing Habitat and it was the time of the three-day week, we started a range called Basics. We went through the standard house creating necessary things that were good value and simple. We kept it going for a few years and franchised it out to a Japanese store called Seibu. They eventually opened stores called Basics, and later these became Muji. So, you see, some of the best things come out of hard times. We’re probably entering a time of simpler things now. Pink walls and chandeliers don’t feel right. I think we’ve had enough of frivolity for a while.
  • It is extraordinary that so many people today buy well-designed cars, audio-visual, domestic and electronic equipment, yet houses and furniture are all too often ‘el crappo’ when they could easily be inspiring.
  • My belief is simply that if reasonable and intelligent people are offered something that is well-made, well-designed, of a decent quality, and at a price they can afford, then they will like it and buy it.

Check out this profile of Conran to learn more about him.

  • Maggie

    Loved walking into Habitat stores back in the 1970s, although the scent of pine was a bit overwhelming. The furniture had clean lines and ‘purity’ about it. It’s still an aesthetic I like.

    • MiltonDValler

      I grew up in London and I LUVVED walking around habitat on the Fulham Road in the early 70’s. The basement was filled with wicker baskets and the aroma was wonderful. Now I’ll be nostalgic all day long.

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  • Lori Taylor-Schulte

    Hanging onto a bad buy will never redeem the purchase. WOW! What an Aha Moment for me in that one simple sentence!!! Thanks for sharing LifeEdited!