Flying the flag

02 Jul, 13

Britta O’Boyle talks to British designer Sebastian Conran, about the inspiration behind the design of his appliance collection for Belling

Sebastian Conran is a man who has designed thousands of products from a bathroom collection for Villeroy & Boch, to yachts, cars and cooking utensils. Most recently, by “natural progression” as he says, his design ventures have led him to create a collection of appliances. Collaborating with British company, Belling, he speaks to us about his first collection ‘Belling Design.Sebastian Conran’. The collection, exclusive to John Lewis until September is available in five colours and was inspired by the Spitfire.

K & B News: What was your inspiration behind the design of this retro-looking range?

Sebastian Conran (SC): The world is becoming increasingly digital but we are still analogue. The visceral thing of eating and cooking is an analogue activity. It is about wanting to have products that are satisfying to use, which you don’t need a book of instructions to understand. That’s why we have used analogue dials.The original inspiration for the knobs on the cooker came from a day out with my son at an aircraft museum. Looking at the dashboard of a Spitfire and seeing the knob, I thought what a sensible shape designed to be used by someone with gloves on.

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K & B News: You kept the handle on the front of the built-in ovens, which is interesting because a lot of appliances recently have been quite flush. What made you choose to do that?

SC: I like to hang my oven gloves off it or a tea towel. You have a damp tea towel, you hang it off the front of the oven to dry it. You want to be able to open it with an oven glove on. You want to operate the knob when your hands are wet and greasy. I think too many kitchen appliances and cooking equipment are designed by people who don’t cook. 


K & B News: Do you think the ‘Made in Britain’ theme and the fact that you are a British designer helps when it comes to promoting it?

SC: Yes, it is a good narrative. I am based in London and I think London is one of the most inspirational cities in the world. I think there are certain trends that happen in London, which this range is reflecting. Not just the colours, but the want to change. ‘I don’t want another boring stainless steel oven, what else is there?’


K & B News: Where did the colours come from?

SC: Duck Egg Blue has been a light motif for most of this century for us. But Pale Green has always been one of my favourite colours. I think they are what I will call colourful neutrals. You can use them in a home environment without them being too dominating. 


K & B News: What were Belling like to work with as a company?

SC: Belling has been a really enjoyable client to work with. A project is good when it is a collaboration. I am responsible for the design, but we are all doing this together as a team. Denver [chief executive of Glen Dimplex Home Appliances Denver Hewitt] had the idea of putting the Union Flag in the base of the tray, which makes a lot of sense because it stiffens it and stops it popping when they get hot. . I wish I had thought of it!


K & B News: Where do you think appliances will go from here? Where do you see them in 10 years’ time?

SC: I think technology will become increasingly digital, but the interface will become increasingly analogue. Humans will always be analogue.