Today when we’re looking for interior design inspiration, our first port of call is often a website or app like Pinterest or Instagram, where we have access to countless ideas at our fingertips. However, even though it’s hard to remember a time without the internet, things weren’t always this way, and budding interior designers had to look elsewhere for their stimulus.
We’re taking their lead with our latest Reads: The Bed and Bath Book by Terence Conran. Published in 1978, the book is a collection of celebrated interior designer Conran’s most interesting bed and bath-based achievements; a love letter to two of the home’s most personal spaces.
Conran himself rose to prominence as a designer in the mid-20th Century, starting his own practice and designing a shop for the iconic Mod fashion designer Mary Quant in the 1950’s. Over the years, he has retained his status as one of the most beloved names in British design. As the founder of the Habitat furniture retail chain, he has remained synonymous with stylish but accessible furnishings throughout his career.
What we really admire most about Mr. Conran, however, is his unbeatable eye for transforming a room into a haven - particularly evident in The Bed and Bath Book. The overwhelming mood of the book is one of peace and tranquility, and whilst bedrooms and bathrooms are primarily functional spaces, Conran’s vision for each of the interiors he presents is clearly informed by the desire to create a restful, satisfying space whilst also gesturing towards practicality.
His draping green plants, low set beds and fondness for neutral, earthy colours make a welcome contrast to the ultra polished Scandi-chic look which seems to be dominating contemporary interior design.
Conran’s penchant for prominent shelving also sends a pleasingly anti-minimalist message for the secret hoarders amongst us. Contrary to the common habit of selecting one or two books to strategically place atop a coffee table, his emphasis on often floor-to-ceiling storage seems to convey a belief that the items we accrue in our homes are important, and are there to be enjoyed - so we should be able to access all of them, and not just the ones which match the colour scheme, whenever we wish.
With their insistence on comfort, ease and charmingly unkempt soft furnishings, Conran’s bedrooms and bathrooms are designed above all to be lived in, and The Bed and Bath Book provides a fun and cosy antidote to sometimes severe Pinterest-ready interiors and Instagram accounts dedicated to pin-neat homes.
Though The Bed and Bath Book offers something of an alternative to current interior design practices, we think it’s just as innovative and inspirational as it must have been almost forty years ago. Conran shows how a space can be stylish and utilitarian, as well as feeling comfortable and lived-in. Most of all, the ethos he communicates through his publication is that a home should be just that. We quite agree, and we’ll certainly be taking a leaf out of his, erm, book…
Cover image: Drydockshop.com