I trained as a Graphic Designer my first job was with a small but highly productive design consultancy in Farringdon. I moved on the work for a design team off Carnaby Street and then onto Harrods where my studio was in one of the iconic domes on the top of that familiar London landmark. Here we worked closely with the Visual Marketing Team who create the beautiful window displays you see in Harrods. I then moved on to exhibition design and the British Museum. This all explains my obsession with all things visual. Good design and high quality are an important consideration in any item you are purchasing. The Conran Shop on the Fulham Road first opened in 1987 the Art Deco building was originally opened in 1911 and housed Michelin Tyres. It is now an iconic landmark in the heart of Brompton Cross and home to an exceptional collection of furniture, lighting, kitchen and dining products, home accessories and gifts.
The staff in the Conran Shop are delightful all cheerful friendly and polite. I am a stickler for excellent service and good manners which I find are in the minority. As you enter the store you are greeted by a splash of colour and tasteful greeting cards and giftwrap, stimulating your visual senses the minute you have entered! The tables settings are so inspiring and they have used a collection of very stylised green foliage to add an accent throughout the entire store.
For originality this is the place to find a great selection of gifts with a very good selection for men and boys who are pretty tricky to buy for. I particularly liked the limited edition backgammon set by Alexandra Llewellen in collaboration with Terry O’Neil. This is exquisitely handcrafted with background photos of “Goddesses” which Terry took in the 60’s and 70’s. The ideal gift for the man who has everything. There were a few other great backgammon sets, fantastic swirling leather scrabble board, beautifully crafted beach tennis sets, Fornasetti candles to name just a snippet of the wonderful goodies throughout the store. Another great item was a beautiful snake shaped box housing a domino set.
The tableware and kitchen departments continue your visual adventure downstairs and the displays are stunning. The glass has been placed on surfaces which are lit from beneath and hence cleverly lights up the glass. The wall space in the store is also used to its full potential. There is an abundance of glass, woven baskets, textiles and lovely housewares. Everything is so well displayed it is such a pleasure to browse.
This collection of vessels are by an artist called Jo Cariati who has a studio in Los Angeles. These are a study in colour, form and function and all hand crafted.
The kitchen department another feast for the eyes. Creative cookbooks scattered throughout the department including by the wonderful Darina Allen who runs the marvellous Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland. Even the ordinary kitchen utensils are well designed in the Conran Shop. I would say this is the first stop for an original and imaginative gift. They really do have something for every budget and it is a great pleasure to visit this wonderful London establishment.