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The Democratisation of Design (III): HABITAT #Habitat


In 1964, furniture designer Terence Conran opened his first Habitat store, where he sold affordable contemporary furniture. This furniture, initially designed by Terence Conran himself, was colourful, cheerful and casual. Conran’s success was based, rather than on the quality of his furniture, on creating a lifestyle that other people wanted to live. After a period in which the English people linked modern design with the postwar’s austerity and privation, Conran made it again appealing and desirable for the public.

Habitat began as the style of choice of the strapped-for-cash student and the young professional setting up home for the first time. And bit by bit, in almost imperceptible stages, it elbowed aside what had gone before to become the signature style of grown-up Britain. Deyan Sudjic, The Language of Things, 2009

In Habitat stores, furniture, lamps, carpets and decorative items are arranged making complete settings, as if they were a series of stages, so that the customer only have to imagine himself living in. Conran published from 1974 to 1983 several editions of The House Book, an illustrated book with pictures of various home rooms and some advices on the decoration and the furniture arrangement of these rooms. Both the interior of Habitat stores and the pictures in Conran’s book, where his own living room got pride of place, offered the customers the feeling of being “putting our noses to the glass to peep on somebody else’s Christmas.”