It’s a sad day indeed when one of our high street institutions closes its doors for the last time and ceases trading. So it is with Habitat. It will finally close its outlets in the next few weeks and be no more. Terence Conran’s iconic 60s store brought a little bit of Mediterranean style, glamour and panache to our dull household interiors, and showed us whilst form maybe temporary, class is permanent. It certainly wasn’t the cheapest place to kit out your living room, but you undoubtedly got what you paid for: quality furniture that was built to last. Habitat’s lasting legacy will be that it re-invigorated some classic furniture lines, and paved the way for the likes of IKEA and latterly Zara Home stores.
Although Habitat opened our eyes to a whole new style of furnishing and interior decoration it will always be unfairly associated with kelims, chicken bricks, Germanic state-of-the-art electrical goods, Philip Treacy armchairs, Eames chairs and Breuer chairs. Unfortunately, whilst Habitat stocked a broad range of merchandise over the years, people only remember the iconic pieces. What’s often overlooked is Conran’s contribution to the re-emergence of the Chesterfield sofa. Chesterfield sofas were always popular, but they had by the 60s gathered something of a crusty, fuddy-duddy reputation: they never looked out of place in traditional settings, but sat uncomfortably in modern stark surroundings.
He took the traditional 18th century Chesterfield settee shape and gave it a contemporary edge and feel. Conran made the Chesterfield sofa sexy again. His team of designers smoothed out some of the angular edges and the stiff upright buttoned backs, and gave the classic sofa softer and more rounded curves and more graceful flowing lines. His re-edition of the classic upholstered Chesterfield sofa became a Habitat staple. Although it’s no longer available through Habitat, it is still sold in his other store, the Conran Shop. Without Conran’s input we probably wouldn’t have such a variety of Chesterfield settees and furniture on sale today. So we at the Chesterfield Sofa Company salute you Sir Terence.