• Sir Terence Conran

    Posted on 17th May 2013 by Andy.


    If there is one person whose shadow looms large over the UK interior design industry it’s Sir Terence Conran. Not only did he single-handedly bring stylish and functional contemporary design to British homes but he also made it more affordable. Born in Kingston Upon Thames in 1931 he studied at the Central School of Art and Design in London before getting his first design job working on the Festival of Britain in 1951. By 1956 he had established his own design company creating furniture and designing a shop for Mary Quant. In 1964 he opened the first Habitat shop, which quickly grew into a large chain of stores. Conran later built upon this success with a number of other projects, which included Mothercare and Heals. Although Conran lost control of Habitat in the 1990s he hadn’t lost any enthusiasm for new projects. He had co-founded the architecture consultancy Conran Roche in 1980 and was instrumental in the regeneration of the Shad area of London beside Tower Bridge, which is also home to the Design Museum, which he also helped establish. He also branched out into high-end restaurants, including Bibendum and the Soup Kitchen. Being named the UK’s most influential restaurateur in 2005. Now in his eighties there is little sign of Sir Terence stopping. He is still a big supporter of British design industries, designing furniture for Marks & Spencer, Content by Conran, Benchmark and The Conran Shop, as well as writing over 30 books on the subject. The Conran Shop, a chain of 10 stores around the world, including two in London continue to specialise in his signature, stylish, contemporary designs, reflecting his simple ethos: ‘All I’ve ever wanted from life are plain, simple, useful products’. Find out more:

    This Post was posted in Design Icons and was tagged with conran, contemporary, designer, interior design, london, Sir Terence Conran

  • All Work and No Play

    Posted on 18th October 2011 by Jules.

    As resident Interior Designer here at Controliss Blinds, I dutifully volunteered to attend the UK's premier Interior design Show a couple of weeks ago!  Obviously I would rather have stayed in the office, but somebody needed to go to Decorex 2011, held at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea from 25-28th September, to take in all of the exciting new trends for the coming season! Decorex  is an exclusive interior design show for professionals and hails the annual pilgrimage for Retail Buyers, Interior Designers and Contractors alike. The Shows foyer was designed by renowned Interior designer Nicky Haslam; the theme was based around a mythological theatre set, and what a spectacular it was!  It was like a fantastical dreamland that merely alluded to the delights within!! There was such a broad spectrum of both inspirational and aspirational products being exhibited, but I was particularly taken with the lighting displays. One Company that particularly stood out for me was Serip, a Portugese company.  Their display of contemporary chandeliers was so dramatic, visitors were stopping to take photographs. Another stand that was particularly eye-catching was the Peneplope Batly Jewellery collection of lighting; giant, oversized illuminated pieces of jewellery, I felt like Alice in Wonderland, or was that just the champagne!! When I finally dragged myself out of Martin Hulberts Champagne Bar, (I was only there for research purposes!) I found my way in to the realms of Home Automation.  Now there is a topic at the forefront of design and technology.  I won't pretend to know all about it, but I do know that it is the way forward for all of us!  I think it will become as accessible and natural to us as the iPod is! Currently, many high-end projects incorporate Smart Home Technology; where a single 'operating system' such as Control 4, Lutron, Crestron, Rako and KNX controls multi media systems, lighting schemes, security and of course motorised blinds and curtain track operation.  It is an ongoing race to keep up to speed with this kind of technology, I am fortunate in that the Technical Support Team at Controliss can decipher all the jargon for me. At Controliss we have had remote control blinds for some time, both battery operated and 240V mains powered.  If you aren't aware already, we supply many different types of Remote Control options, from the simple Air 1 which is single channel remote control that can be programmed to control a number of roller blinds simultaneously as a group while for the ultimate in wireless control, with the benefit of advanced security features, we offer a programmable 7 day digital timer to operate individual, or groups of blinds at your chosen times of day, entirely automatically. The invaluable timer feature provides peace of mind, as it re-creates the illusion of occupancy in a vacant property. Our Controliss Technicians are now able to offer tailor-made solutions to ensure total integration of our motorised blinds and curtain tracks into any of the major home automation companies, which as a Designer is brilliant for me.  The more streamlined and automated, the various systems within a property have the potential to be,  the more our clients strive to incorporate them within their property, the possibilities are endless! Having extolled the virtues of technology, discretely integrating these wonderful systems and appliances can be trying to say the least!  My goodness, how much 'hardware' do we now have to accommodate, whilst still attempting to retain 'the look' within any given scheme! It is a constant challenge as an Interior Designer to conceal, sub-woofers, sky boxes, speakers and the like, but getting back to the Decorex Show, I came across an exhibitor presenting invisible speakers. Eureka!  I have seen them advertised, but have always doubted their sound quality and consequently dismissed them.  The Company exhibiting these revolutionary speakers was Kensington Home Technology, I have to say that I was impressed with their sound quality almost as much as their discretion, well worth considering! In terms of concealing the mechanism of our Controliss motorised blinds, there are several options worth mentioning.  There is no need to worry about where to install the motor, as the whisper quiet motors are already integrated within the blinds core tube. If you have the facility to introduce remote control blinds, it is even more impressive if the source is hidden, and the blind simply appears from a decorative pelmet which co-ordinates with the room scheme.  Even more impressive is if the ceiling is lowered or a stud wall cavity is created, the blind cassette then becomes totally invisible! Basically, we need not be intimidated by technology; as it is inherent in our lives today, whether we embrace it or not.  I suggest we trust in technology and enjoy the benefits and convenience of all that we can achieve with it. We should be mindful of the overall aesthetics of what we are creating, if it detracts from the 'wow' that is created by remote controlled devices, then it can't also be called beautiful!!

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    This Post was posted in Interior Design and was tagged with blinds, control, Decorex, designer, Home Automation, interior, Motorised Blinds, remote, technology

  • Kirsty Whyte

    Posted on 20th June 2011 by Andy.

    You may have been lucky enough to purchase a piece of furniture that was designed by Kirsty Whyte, without knowing it. Kirsty Whyte, a British interior and furniture designer, studied Decorative Arts at Nottingham Trent University. Due to her hard work and creativity on that particular course, Kirsty was invited as a guest to Kalmar University in Sweden, where she studied alongside some of the industry’s biggest names. Kirsty’s work has been exhibited all over the world, she was an intern for Tom Dixon and for a while, she has worked for Habitat, Dwell, British Home Stores and Next as a designer. Some of the award winning products Kirsty has produced include The Hound table, a small occasional table that can be stacked and interlocks to create a larger table. Hand crafted in the UK, using wood off-cuts that would otherwise go to waste, the Limpet Hooks are a fun and stylish way to hang your coats and bags.

    The Gordo one piece light – named after one of the first monkeys to go into space, due to it's space age appearance – is incredibly stylish and could feature in any room. Kirsty has received a lot of great press about her products and design, in magazines such as Living, Glamour and Elle Decoration. She won Liberty’s Best Newcomer award in 2009 and Most Prolific Hidden Art Member in 2010. What I particularly like about Kirsty’s designs are they are incredibly neat, and logical, bright and fun. She has been inspired by origami and she thinks about the importance of waste and recycling so tries to create pieces that have minimum wastage. She challenges herself with different shapes and style and will produce pieces from one continuous piece of material, for instance her Drew table bases are made from one continuous piece of recycled steel. If you want clever, modern design, Kirsty Whyte is definitely a designer to consider. You can see a full range of Kirsty’s products at

    This Post was posted in Best of British and was tagged with designer, Kirsty Whyte, table

  • Design Icon: Karim Rashid

    Posted on 11th March 2011 by yasmin.

    The prolific and versatile industrial designer Karim Rashid is one of the most productive designers of his generation. He was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1960 and in 1982 went on to gain a bachelor in industrial design from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.  He later went on to complete his postgraduate studies in Italy. Rashid currently Works out of his private design studio in New York.

    To date Karim Rashid has had approximately 3000 design pieces put into production with some of his most iconic designs including the Garbo waste can and the Oh Chair for Umbra. One of our favorite Rashid designs has to be the Bonaldo Kandor chair and matching pouf. These fantastic pieces feature a steel structure and are available in leather or fabric.

    As well as individual objects and furniture items, Rashid has also designed the contemporary Japanese Morimoto restaurant in Philadelphia and the Switch restaurant in Dubai as well as completing exhibitions for Audi and Deutsche Bank. As a designer of any statute, you know you have made it when your designs are exhibited in a museum. Well Karim Rashid has definitely made it as his work is in permanent collections in over fourteen different museums worldwide including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. Rashid’s many designs have in turn won him many awards and honors including the Special Pentaward for creativity in packaging design, 2009 and the Red Dot distinction for high design quality, 2005-2010 to name but the recent. From furniture to accessories, to architecture and interiors, Rashid has designed them all, and to very high, award-winning standards. The question we want to ask here at Controliss is what is next? Perhaps more of what he is famed for, or perhaps even electric blinds or patterned designs for electric blinds, wishful thinking. Who knows, but we are excited to find out!

    This Post was posted in Design Icons and was tagged with Bonaldo, controliss, design, designer, designs, icon, industrial, Karim Rashid, New York

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