Conran and Partners was founded by Sir Terence Conran more than 35 years ago. A designer and visionary restaurateur and retailer at heart, Terence was committed to changing – and enhancing – people’s lives through good design. From Quaglino’s to Habitat, he explored the intricate and holistic threads between design and human experience. This is still very much a key design imperative for the studio, with the projects intended to inspire and connect, and the spaces carefully designed with not just the clients but, importantly, the staff members in mind.
Fast-forward to today, and Conran and Partners reflects a plural, eclectic and global community, from the inside out. The international team represents 16 nationalities led by four creative partners – Tina Norden, Simon Kincaid, Tim Bowder-Ridger and Victoria Whenray – with two further partners supporting the studios behind the scenes (Katy Clarke as studio director and Hardip Nijjar as finance director). Over 50% of the team are women, including a 50/50 split on the board. This diverse and equitable composition is a reflection of the company’s commitment to inclusive and progressive design, from concept to execution.
Conran and Partners’ work is multifaceted. The studio is no stranger to spanning different spheres, continents, and time zones. Its ever-evolving portfolio extends around the world and embraces a rich and varied range of geographies, cultures, typologies and scales, from interior design to architecture and masterplanning.
The practice moved into its new studio space during the pandemic – quite a feat, after over 30 years in Shad Thames. It gave Conran and Partners the opportunity to tailor the space to the needs of the team – including space for the now-ubiquitous Teams calls. The space feels bright and airy and has a great atmosphere, with designers and architects mixed both in teams and throughout the studio.
Collaboration is one of the signatures of the studio’s approach to architecture and design. With teams in London and Hong Kong, Conran and Partners operates as a multidisciplinary collective of architects, designers and creatives, of which about 30 work mostly on interiors.
Decades of a consistent volume of projects in Asia – from Roppongi Hills to Futako Tamagawa, Niki Club, Hotel Icon and Mandarin Oriental – fuelled the inception of the Hong Kong studio. As the scale, range and magnitude of the schemes expanded, so too did the studio’s ambitions. Set to celebrate its fifth anniversary in October, the HK studio continues to bridge the gap, and brings the team closer to its projects and clients in the region. Rather than operating independently or being a drafting studio for the London HQ, the design team works across both studios in mixed teams on projects across the continents.
Through the years, Conran and Partners has forged and consolidated continued collaborations with numerous renowned clients, from Related Argent and D+D in London, to international operators like IHG, Hyatt and Accor.
A testament to this is the ongoing collaboration with Hyatt – first with Park Hyatt Auckland, then Park Hyatt Jakarta (which opened its doors on 8th July), and a third in Changsha on the drawing board. This collaboration also shows the project-specific approach of the practice’s work – even within the confines of one brand, as all three are completely different in concept and design.
Park Hyatt Auckland is a bespoke low-rise structure in a regeneration area next to the city centre on the Viaduct harbourfront. Responding to its bold, nautical-yet-urban environment, weaving in the history of the Maori culture, combined with European and Chinese influences of its host culture, the hotel reflects its location perfectly. Key to this was a strong collaborative approach with design architect ar+d from Singapore, Auckland-based Bossley Architects, and the teams from owner Fu Wah in Beijing and operator Hyatt in Hong Kong, resulting in a building that seamlessly merges architecture and interiors.
Park Hyatt Jakarta, on the contrary, is located in a modern multipurpose high-rise in a vibrant, bustling Asian metropolis. The strong contrast of Jakarta itself with the rest of Indonesia, which people tend to visit for its serene, beautiful scenery and local culture, inspired the concept of bringing Indonesia into the hotel in all its layered elements.
In contrast to the democratic, more minimal atmosphere in Auckland, which reflects the attitude of New Zealand, Jakarta’s hotel is richer and more glamourous, in keeping with its host city.
To complement these large international projects, the studio has also consistently worked on much smaller boutique properties. From The Guesthouse in Vienna (a 40-room one-off for a local developer) and the family-owned Hotel Maximilian in Prague, to the ongoing collaboration with design-led hotel group PURO in Poland, the enjoyment taken from the variety of types and scales is palpable – and the knowledge that can be cross-referenced between the two benefits all projects.
As part of a wider collaboration between Conran and Partners and the Taj Hotel group, Conran and Partners has designed the upcoming Taj The Trees in Mumbai – Taj’s newest addition to its portfolio in India, in collaboration with Godrej Properties, which is currently under construction.
Based on the success of the creative collaboration, the studio was tasked with creating two unique dining spaces within their renowned central London property – a private members’ club and new all-day dining venue, TH@51.
The studio emphasises a people-centric approach – this ethos is exemplified in how it approaches open communication with its clients, how it operates as a team and how it envisions its projects. The desire to elevate how the end-user experiences the space is pivotal in the design process.
As the industry continues to evolve, the studio remains energised and committed to challenging rigid delineations between disciplines, going beyond the brief and blurring the boundaries between sectors. No matter what country, sector or client, the Conran and Partners team is committed to creating uplifting meaningful spaces and cultivating joy – one story at a time.