INTERVIEW: ‘THE WAY WE LIVE NOW’ CURATOR STAFFORD CLIFF
Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
We were fortunate enough to meet ‘The Way We Live Now’ curator Stafford Cliff, who collated the major new exhition at the Design Museum celebrating the life and work of Jasper’s father Sir Terence Conran.
Stafford has worked with Sir Terence since 1966, when he joined the Conran Design Group as a 19-year-old graphic designer. He went on to become creative director of the Group and having known Sir Terence for over 40 years, was well placed to ensure an accurate depiction of the designer’s business empires over the last seventy years.
Stafford explained: “Terence was always keen to make things, but he was also keen to make things that sold. He wanted things which people could use and feel comfortable with. His designs were robust, simple and straight forward. He was keen to take away unnecessary embellishment.”
Stafford worked on the original Habitat catalogues during the late ‘60’s and 70’s (many of which are displayed on the walls of the exhibition). These mail order magazines were both innovative and pioneering, by showcasing product in a completely new way. Not only was furniture pictured in a home lifestyle scene, but it also included inspirational tips on how to style a room or practical tips about lighting. This was the first time a retailer had presented products in such a way and the catalogues became such a hit that they were sold on news stands across the country.
Stafford said: “We thought, ‘what can we do to give people useful information which would help them furnish their homes?’ It could be as varied as what to look out for when buying roller blinds, how to organise a fondu party or how to make pasta. No commercial company had previously thought lets put the two together, but why would you buy a wok if you don’t know what to do with it?”
It was this forward-thinking nature that led Sir Terence to debut the first flat pack furniture, create aspirational interiors with Bauhaus armchairs and to launch a variety of European-inspired brasseries that would transform Britain’s eating habits for good. Stafford added: “What really makes Sir Terence Conran stand out is his gift for creating a way of life that others want to share. He offers a particularly persuasive way of looking at things and one that has become synonymous with contemporary design.” Visit ‘The Way We Live Now’ at The Design Museum, running from 16th November until 4th March 2012.