Today's Independent has an article Has the Conran era come to an end? which opens:
For 50 years, Sir Terence Conran has been changing the British lifestyle, dragging us out of post-war austerity and into a world of good food and good design. Now, as he sells off his restaurant empire, Andy McSmith asks if his time has gone
The name of Sir Terence Conran is so evocative of smart restaurants and stylish shops selling modernist goods to discerning customers that it seems odd that his long, fabulous career – now apparently coming to an end – began in the years of austerity and ration books.
Even those who are aware that Sir Terence has been influencing public taste for a very long time think of him as a product of the Swinging Sixties, an innovator and tycoon who brought style and taste within the price range of the average office worker. His restaurants, now up for sale, are commonly thought to be the means by which he reinvented himself after being prised out of the business of running fashionable high street shops. .....
"Going out to a restaurant is not just about eating," his former collaborator, the design guru Stephen Bayley, said yesterday. "It's about people, and atmosphere. The very best restaurants capture that. People go to a restaurant as an experience in interior design. Terence gave them that. ....
Although he was never a great admirer of Margaret Thatcher, he had done well out of the business atmosphere she had helped create, and his fall from grace as a high street retailer coincided with her political demise. Always better at generating new ideas than keeping old ones going, he lost control of the company he had built up, and he retreated to an office in Butlers Wharf, on a stretch of the south bank of the Thames that he had helped to renovate. From there, he decided to go back to the restaurant business, hoping to make the diners who used his restaurants feel that they were members of a club, united by good taste, just like those young couples who patronised Habitat in the Sixties.
"In Habitat, he came across a formula for furnishings that exactly fitted the needs of that generation, who were the first people who did not inherit furniture but had had a university education and had good jobs," Stephen Bayley said.
"There is a famous story that when he took over British Home Stores, he exclaimed – 'What is that awful pink nightie? Get it out of here!' – and they had to say 'Actually, Sir Terence, that is our best-selling line'."
But the end of the Conran era, he suggested, has been a long time coming. Many thought it was over when the great innovator's flirtation with the City turned sour in the late 1980s, and he lost control of the "darling" he had created in the 1960s.
"He used the same architectural formula when he opened his restaurants but they didn't quite have the sort of match with the customers.
"Terence's taste is educated, middle class and Chelsea. It only really coincided with a small percentage of the population. His restaurants were populated by people Terence didn't know existed. In the end, they became the sort of mediocrity he was trying to escape, and I sort of wish he had retreated some time ago. In a certain sense, the news that he is pulling out has been a long time coming, but it is elegiac. He has been a major figure in British cultural life for 52 years."
Which sort of connects with Nick Carr and his essay Z-curves!? which talks of life cycles of technology and adoption..... and that connects with Pine and Gilmore's Experience Economy:
Sketch: Tom Wujec.