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Remembering Sir Terence Conran

By Sir John Hegarty

Sir Terence Conran, founder of the Design Museum, designer, philanthropist and businessman, who served as D&AD President in 1966, has sadly passed away at the age of 88. We remember his life and achievements in this tribute written by Sir John Hegarty who, in 1989, presented Sir Terence with the highest accolade, the D&AD President's Award.

It was 1964. I was having my portfolio critiqued by a very talented art director, Patrick Tofts. Sadly I wasn’t listening to much of what he was saying. My attention had wandered over to a large Habitat carrier bag in the corner. I was full of envy, not for the size of his office, the work on the wall, the words of wisdom he was pouring forth, but the fact that he could go and spend freely at Habitat.
 
The 60’s wouldn’t have been the 60’s without Terence Conran. We had The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who to listen to. But you couldn’t sit on them, or drink coffee from them or light your newly acquired flat with their different songs. They certainly inspired us but Terence showed us how to live, with style, wit and design.
 
In 1989 as D&AD President I had the honour to present Terence with The President's Award. No one has been more deserving of that recognition than he. 
 
He not only changed the way we lived, he changed the way we ate, he changed the way we looked at design. And he pioneered a museum, The Design Museum, for us to engage with these passions. A Museum he personally bankrolled and yet refused to have his name over the front door.
 
I was lucky, Terence invited me to be a trustee of his beloved Museum back in 1997. I remained a trustee for 20 years and watched as he battled tirelessly to keep it going, eventually seeing it located to what was the old Commonwealth Institute in Kensington High St. Redesigned and configured by the brilliant John Pawson.
 
And what else was remarkable about this man, he never stopped. He kept creating, investing, employing and inspiring. His legacy is beyond comparison. Thank you Terence for all you did, Britain wouldn’t be Britain without you. You were a giant amongst giants. 
 
And I can still see that Habitat carrier bag in the corner of that office.
 
 

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