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February 18, 2011

At the Sharp End: Sir Terence Conran

By Spear's

Q.     What would your other career be?
A.     Probably a farmer or landscape architect — living a simple life producing fresh produce and working with the land.

Q.     Who is your greatest influence?
A.     There have been many down the years, but I would say Henry Racamier, whose transformation of Louis Vuitton was a revelation.

Q.     What is your biggest fear?
A.     Losing my clarity of vision and, with it, my creativity.

Q.     What is missing in the world?
A.     We’ve lost the ability to make things, or at least appreciate how they are made.

Q.     In a year, the UK economy will be…
A.     Continuing to recover, but we need to encourage creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, not stifle it with cutbacks and bureaucracy.

Q.     Is business a pleasure?
A.     It is never without its frustrations, but I am lucky that everything I do for business I do for pleasure. It certainly never feels like a job.

Q.     How many PAs do you have?
A.     I have two wonderful PAs, one at my country office and the other in London. Both are indispensable.

Q.     How did you earn your first pay cheque?
A.     Working for the architect Dennis Lennon on the Festival of Britain.

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Q.     My business mantra is…
A.     In my line of work I keep emphasising that business and design are interlinked. One can’t succeed without the other.

Q.     Who do you have on speed dial?
A.     Stephen Bayley.

Q.     Which watch do you wear?
A.     A very slim, fine Georg Jensen.

Q.     Where do you summer?
A.     I try to visit somewhere new as often as possible to make life more interesting.

Q.     Favourite hotel suite?
A.     The Park Hyatt in Tokyo.

Q.     What is your guilty pleasure?
A.     My cigars: I smoke four Havanas  a day and find them more pleasurable now than I have ever done.

Q.     When I drive, I drive…
A.     One of the last home-made Bentleys, a reminder that as a country we used to be rather useful at making things.

Q.     My greatest success in business was…
A.     I am incredibly proud of the Design Museum, which I founded many years ago.

Q.     Where in the world are you happiest?
A.     In the sunshine in my garden in the country with a bottle of decent Burgundy.

Q.     My greatest failure in business was…
A.     I’d say merging with BHS and later losing Habitat, the company I founded.

Q.     Where are you right now?
A.     In my office in the country, with a roaring fire keeping me warm and a decent cup of coffee keeping me awake.

Q.     Which restaurant is indispensable?
A.     Of my own it would have to be Boundary. Elsewhere, St John serves uncomplicated food with the finest British   ingredients.

Q.     Philanthropy should be…
A.     The most natural thing in the world.

Q.     To me, wealth means…
A.     Very little at all, other than the ability to work on new projects.

Q.     Spear’s is sharp and to the point. I am…
A.     Plain and simple. I also hope I’m useful.

Château Boundary is a free wine club for beginners and oenophiles alike. For information on club benefits, tastings, gifts and events, email

At the Sharp End is sponsored by Citi Private Bank

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