Catching up with designer Sophie Conran

‘Rooms should be joyous,’ says designer Sophie Conran. Whether she’s designing carpets, cutlery or china there’s a certain flair to her pieces and that doesn’t stop with her latest collection of nine new wallpapers for Arthouse. We caught up with Sophie over a builder’s tea or two to chat about the collection, which is inspired by her childhood, and find out what’s next on her ‘to-do’ list. Read the full interview here…

The wallpaper range is intricately designed with a modern twist on traditional production techniques including flock, metallics, sparkling mica touches, as well as subtle opalescent shades in the background. The Arthouse collection by Sophie Conran has something for everyone from the pretty florals of ‘Posie’ and ‘Postcards Home’ to the more modern, punchy pattern of ‘Balustrade’. For toile touches there’s ‘Lazy Days’ and ‘Coconut Grove’. ‘Opening doors’ with its flocked design and ‘London lights’ with its multitude of little buildings (check out the little people and bicycles) represent the hustle and bustle of London life.

Sophie, how would you describe your personal home interior style?

I like colour and a mixture of old and new. I like mixing up the scales of things - I have an enormous clock in my kitchen and a tiny phone on my desk. I like collections of things. I like rooms to be light and playful.

What do you do to relax?

I enjoy cooking at the weekend as there’s rarely time for it during the working week. I play scrabble and enjoy relaxing in front of the TV, watching things like Silent Witness and Lewis, which is sadly ending. I often go to exhibitions. I recently went to the Valentino exhibition at Somerset house (on until 3rd March) and next will be the Man Ray exhibition at the National Portrait gallery (on until 27th May). I also enjoy walking and meeting friends and family for lunch or a gathering at a pub.

Are you a coffee or tea drinker?

Both! I start my day with a coffee and then there’s always someone making a cup of tea in the office. I try to drink herbal teas, like green tea. You’re supposed to make it with 1⁄4 cold water first, but it’s so easy to burn the leaves and it tends to have too much caffeine in it. I prefer builder’s tea.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

There’s a fantastic restaurant Baumaniere in Les Baux, Provence. We used to have family meals there on special occasions. It’s a place of special memories for me. It has beautiful Mulberry trees and serves the most amazing food.

[Image above: From Maisons de Baumaniere]

What item do you enjoy designing the most?

That’s really hard to say because I really enjoy it all. It’s great to have the mixture of everything. One minute I’m choosing colours for wallpaper the next I can be tackling new cutlery. There’s lots going on all the time so in any day I’ll be switching between projects.

What do you wish you had designed?

I would say The Gerkin building. It’s an amazing, beautiful structure and a little bit rude!

Where does your inspiration for your latest Arthouse wallpaper collection come from?

The new Reflections collection is inspired by times in my life - from the time spent in the countryside when I was younger and the feelings of lying on lawns and discovering new places, to moving to London and discovering new things. I’m still discovering things now. I wanted to express the feelings of joy in the designs.

[Image above: Posie Azure by Sophie Conran]

How long have you been working on you new wallpaper collection?

It took around 18 months - two years to complete this collection. I started off searching for all sorts of items to give us inspiration for colours and designs, going to Portobello Market collecting antique postcards and gathering ideas. Arthouse had lots of ideas to input too.
 I knew I wanted to do a design with clouds. When I was a child I always wanted clouds painted on my bedroom ceiling, so the Silver Lining wallpaper is my favourite. I’ve put it up in my design studio. It’s very calm and tranquil.

[Image above: Silver Lining wallpaper by Sophie Conran]

I also wanted to design a toile but there are loads of toiles around at the moment so we tried lots of variations. The end result (which is the ‘Lazy Days’ design) is a more painterly effect with amazing colours, which I am really happy with.

[Images above: Lazy Days and Coconut Grove  by Sophie Conran]

What’s next on the To do list for Sophie Conran?

Well, I’ve just launched a range of textiles at the Spring Fair at the NEC and I’m working on casseroles for my china range at Portmeirion. There’s also some new Arthur Price cutlery about to come out. I’ve designed some new shapes and added a beautiful carving fork and knife set as well as a children's range. In other words there’s never a dull moment!

[Images: Sophie Conran ‘Reflections’ wallpaper range for Arthouse]


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Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor

View all posts by Emma Morton Turner, Guest Editor