Terence Conran’s Personal Collection Is on the Auction Block

sir terence conran smoking a cigar on a worn club chair

Courtesy Bonhams

Tomorrow, Bonhams in London will be auctioning off lots from design legend Sir Terence Conran’s personal collection. The British designer, who passed away last year at the age of 88, is widely credited with bringing good design to ordinary people through his home shop, Habitat, and later through products, interiors, and restaurants across the U.K. and around the world. The lots, selected from Barton Court, Conran’s home of more than four decades outside of London, run the gamut from funky folk art to serious antiques to pieces Conran designed for himself, his home line, and his restaurants.

“Sir Terence Conran was a titan of modern design, and his influence can be seen in homes across Britain and far beyond,” Bonhams’s Harvey Cammell said in a statement. “It is a rare privilege to be auctioning his personal collection…the eclectic mix of items reveals Sir Terence’s phenomenal eye for design and gives a unique insight into the inspiration behind some of his own creations.”

Estimates are low, so some deals may be for the taking. Curious minds can register to bid on Bonhams’s website, but before you do, take a look at the items we’re coveting for ourselves.

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“Dots” by Sir Howard Hodgkin

Hodgkin was a British abstract master, renowned not only for his vibrant, off-kilter assemblages and paintings, but also for his taste and personal collection. The contents of his Bloomsbury, London, flat were auctioned off by Sotheby’s shortly after his death in 2017. This small collage and gouache on paper carries bright tones often seen in Conran’s shop and home.

Estimate: $2,400–$3,500


Bent Laminate Long Chair After the Design by Marcel Breuer for Isokon

Modern classics were a staple in Conran’s homes. This lounge chair was made by Windmill Furniture in the style of Marcel Breuer.

Estimate: $710–$830


Early 18th-Century Oak-Press Cupboard

Along with modern marvels, Conran collected well-loved English antiques from the 18th century and prior. This oak-press cupboard would have originally been used to store linens and likely served similar purposes for Conran.

Estimate: $590–$830


Four Lamp Bases, Designed by Dagmar Bombach for Ingo Maurer

These four characteristically whimsical lights by German designer Ingo Maurer were designed in 1998 in partnership with Dagmar Bombach. From the “MaMo Nouchies” series, they were intended as a celebration of sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi. The pleated paper shades rest on steel frames.

Estimate: $3,500–$5,900


An Exact Survey of the Cities of London, Westminster, and the Borough of Southwark By John Roque

Drawn in 1745, this map is an exact survey of the areas of London, Westminster, and the Borough of Southwark carried out by John Roque and engraved by Richard Parr. In its exceptionally large size, it shows the urban sprawl of Georgian London and had pride of place above a bed in Conran’s home.

Estimate: $3,500–$5,900


Set of 12 Josef Hoffmann Ebonized Armchairs

These Josef Hoffmann chairs were characteristic of the Austrian designer’s work in the early 20th century. Bought by Conran for his Bibendum restaurant in London, they are quintessentially Viennese Secessionist with their pierced backs and ebonized frames.

Estimate: $2,400–$3,500


Large Folk Art Model of Tower Bridge

Made of painted wood and tole, this folk art model of Tower Bridge from the early 20th century has a mechanical drawbridge and stretches over 80 inches. It was bought for Conran’s Cantina del Ponte restaurant in the Butler’s Wharf neighborhood of London right by the actual Tower Bridge.

Estimate: $590–$830


Maple “Mad Axe” Table by Sir Terence Conran

Many lots in the auction were designed by Conran himself, including this maple “Mad Axe” table with its three dainty legs and small circular top.

Estimate: $470–$710


George III Brass Telescope

This George III brass telescope on a tripod base was made (and engraved) by Charles Lincoln in London. Lincoln, who lived between 1744 and 1807, sold his wares in London’s city center. He rose from apprentice at the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, London’s most esteemed manufacturer of optical devices, to eventually run the company, making this object an exceptionally valuable symbol of 18th-century astronomical interest.

Estimate: $830–$1,200


Thonet Caned Beech Bentwood Chaise Longue, Circa 1890

Thonet is everywhere in Conran’s homes. He’s been pictured on late-19th-century bentwood innovations countless times. This chaise longue, with its adjustable back, is a particularly delightful example and comfortable to the modern sitter. Conran took inspiration from Thonet’s model numbers (this chaise is number 9702) and used the same format for his designs. If that weren’t enough reason to bid, the chair has also been published in Deyan Sudjic’s book Terence Conran: Making Modern Britain, published last year.

Estimate: $710–$1,200

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