Design Mogul's Top 10
Conran prefers pans with heavy bottoms, because they cook evenly and retain heat well. The new Calphalon tri-ply stainless steel cookware fits both his and the F&W Test Kitchen’s requirements ($40 to $165; 800-434-4314).
The kitchen at the Hancock Shaker Village in western Massachusetts, a museum and historical working farm, is "quite austere," Conran says, "but it has a great beauty" (junction of Rte. 20 and Rte. 41, Pittsfield; 413-443-0188).
When Conran was a student, in the late ’40s and early ’50s, he learned about modernism from the now defunct American magazine Art & Architecture:"It was my lifeline to a more exciting design world" (vintage issues from Gallagher’s; 212-473-2404).
In the late ’60s, Conran worked on products for a mail-order catalog from Prisunic (France’s Wal-Mart). He sees that mass-market revolution happening in America today: "Some things Martha [Stewart] does are a bit cutesy. But it shows that a person with really strong ideas can make an impact on the taste landscape."
The solid Biblioteque oak kitchen table is Conran’s favorite item of all those he’s designed: "You can cut up a bullock on it, then give it a good scrub afterwards" ($4,700; 212-755-9079).
For those contemplating a kitchen renovation, Conran recommends collecting catalogs from favorite manufacturers, such as Bulthaup, the German design company (212-966-7183 or www.bulthaup.com).
Conran predicts white dishes will never go out of style: "Food is beautiful enough by itself." His newest London restaurant, Almeida (his 28th), serves everything on white porcelain (30 Almeida St.; 011-44-20-7354-4777).
Conran says that in Britain people think of him as "the man who brought us stripped pine tables and chicken bricks"—covered terra-cotta roasters. "I make practical things that slip into your life," he says. "I’m not likely to create a great icon of modern design."
Conran can’t do without beech spoons. "I keep a big jar of them next to the stove," he says. "I don’t believe in fancy gadgets. They just clutter one’s life" ($2.50 from Broadway Panhandler; 866-266-5927).