Tuesday, 5 April 2011

By Design..

As a partner on the online shopping site.. Not on the High Street .. we were recently invited to ask Sir Terence Conran a question through the site and without hesitation I posed my question to him. I did begin to wonder if I should have asked him a more sober question about starting up a business or a design element, as he is, in my eyes, one of the greatest designers of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Imagine my surprise and utter delight to discover that my question was chosen along with a few others by Sir Terence. This was his answer..

Dear Terence, I would dearly love to know what your favourite toy was when you were a child? Michele, Cowboys & Custard Oh good grief, what a question Michele! I remember on our mantelpiece we had these wonderful things called “Sunday Toys” that my mother’s father had brought back from all over the world. Cherrystone slippers from Russia and a little hare made from ivory that came from China. Perhaps my favourites were toys I made myself, something I began doing when I was eleven and had peritonitis which came me off school for six months. I made a model of the battleship HMS Hood which, I think, I swapped for a 3 inch Myford lathe which absolutely became my absolute pride and joy. May I add what a wonderful name for your company – how on earth do cowboys and custard meet!?

It is a real privilege to have this insight into his life and possibly the early beginnings of his design led career.
Growing up in the sixties, I remember so well my visits to the iconic Habitat stores where the simple but oh- so -stylish contemporary home wares were very much de rigeur of the time. The bold colours and organic style of furnishings are just as popular today and have lasted the distance for many. Ironically I have grown up with antiques and love the individual craftsmanship of vintage items but have the greatest respect for contemporary design too.

I feel the two can marry very successfully with a bit of imagination ..
I don't claim to be an interior designer.. far from it.. My home is stuck in a bit of a time warp and is more of a collection of time worn relics and hand me downs from my family, combined with items I have collected along the way.
If you cast your mind back to the blog post I wrote in May last year.. I had a bit of a 'shoot' at my home, the results of which can be seen in the magazine 'House Beautiful' this month.

Dear Nicky Owen of White Rabbit Media and David Parmiter the lovely photographer.. did my house proud and never has it looked so uncluttered and clean. Just don't open that cupboard!
If you want to have a snoop around my home.. I am afraid you will have to buy the magazine!

P.s In answer to Tracey's question.. yes I did reply to Sir Terence Conran and this is what I said..

Dear Terence

Thank you so much for answering my question. I was absolutely cock a hoop that you chose to share your favourite toys from childhood with me. I loved to hear that you made your own toys and used your design skills from a very early age.

In answer to you question about my business name.. The "Cowboys" part comes from games I played with my brothers.. the favourite being cowboys and indians.. being a bit of a tomboy in my youth. The "Custard" part is from the nursery.. favourite childhood food. Cowboys & Custard brings together my love of childhood nostalgia which I hope I reflect in the products I make.

Best wishes


Cowboys & Custard


dots and spots said...

Hi there

Hope you are well - will have to get a copy of House Beautiful tomorrow and have a peek! I already know it will be lovely!

karen said...

Well I shall be off to buy House Beautiful being a curious (nosey) woman. Love those tiles behind your Aga. Karen X

June said...

As above - I am intrigued to find out what your home will look like - I know it will be lovely. I will pop to the newsagents to find out more!
My friend's parents were very stylish. They had a home full of lovely antiques and vintagey things but their daighters had Habitat stuff in their bedroom. I used to be really envious. Her bedroom was mainly white with glossy chest of drawers in black and red. The duvet cover was white with little red hearts. Her sister had an egg chair suspended from an old beam and we all used to fight as to who got to sit on it! Happy memories!

Hen said...

What a great comment from Sir Terence, you do keep good company, Michele! I will have to buy the mag, your kitchen looks divine. Look forward to seeing you and a band of furry friends(?) on Saturday. Been working very hard!
Hen x

Kitschen Pink said...

Terrence loves your blog name! Woohoo! Well done on that. Feeling a little starstruck for you :)
Loving that profile picture - why haven't I seen that before?! What a twinkly sexy lady!
I'm off to buy a mag! xxx

Mandy said...

Great question! Can't wait to pick up the magazine. x

Country Cottage Chic said...

How fab that he answered your question!

Your house looks fab in the magazine - that kitchen has been witness to many an exciting plan in recent years hasn't it?
And coffee & cake too of course!


tracey @ the vintage bothy said...

Hi Michelle, did you reply to Sir T??, and what is the answer?
T x

tracey @ the vintage bothy said...

oops sorry that I mis-spelt your name Michele!
T x

tracey @ the vintage bothy said...

Thanks for the answer Michele, although I would never have imagined you as a tomboy!
T x

Frances said...

I am going to have to keep a lookout for The issue of House Beautiful on the international newstands around New York.

It's terrific that your question got picked up by TC, but not too surprising. After all, he really does love toys and has a very original mind and sense of style.

I was lucky to also have a very brief chat with him at one of the early Country Living magazine fairs, back when Francine Lawrence was editor. I also found his to be funny, curious and very open to trading ideas. Great memory.

Best wishes to you!

jen storer said...

That is such a brilliant question Michele! Not only is it actually very interesting, its a brilliant way to get someone to open up to you. Hey, can I get house beautiful in australia i wonder? I often buy British House and Garden and swoon. SO now i have a new mission. jx ps I played the very unPC cowboys and indians with the local kids too. My brother had one of those canvas tents with indians painted on the side. we slept in it sometimes. I seem to recall mosquitoes...

Ragged Roses said...

Well done Dottie! Sir Terence seems smitten with Cowboys & Custard - what a lovely reply from him.
I used to love Habitat in the 70s and 80s, all those white enamel cups, duvets and plates...

Hesta Nesta said...

I shall be off to buy House Beautiful right away so I can have a nosey round your home. That was a great question to ask Sir Terence, very original and I think that's why he chose it. Looking forward to Saturday...I'm almost ready!!
Jo xx

My Realitty said...

Way cool! CM

hensteeth said...

My clever, stylish and talented friend x

Joy said...

Brava! As we say in this side of the Adriatic. I'm so happy to see that side of Sir T.
Also, we love your kitchen!
Take care Joy xx

Kitsch and Curious Elaine said...

Wow, how brilliant! One of my favourite bits of china is a 1950s Midwinter plate designed by T.C. himself.
Hmmm, I might have to splash out on that magazine....
See you tomorrow. (I should be packing stuff, but I took a little blog break!)

Louise said...

A tad bit jealous here Michele! The love of design has been passed down to me from the maternal side of my family. Not always necessarily affording top-end items, but added to our homes in say a more modest way. A real privilege for you to have such personal insight from Sir Terry himself! x