Dispatches from the UK

Contributor post by Will from Bright.Bazaar

My parent’s bed was a wedding present from there. I worked there to fund my social life/slight shopping addiction(!) at university. I spent many an hour browsing, shopping and being inspired in there. ‘There’ was Habitat, an iconic British furniture brand and once influential player in the design market. Founded by Sir Terrance Conran in 1964, Habitat was a glamorous and stylish – the place to be seen to be shopping. It was soon bringing homewares to the masses and for the 60s and 70s was a thriving success. However, after a number of sales and different ownerships, including the Ikano Group, which own IKEA, the brand went into administration at the end of last month.

I have many a happy memory associated with the store: enthusiastically folding out sofa beds, jumping on and inviting customers to try the beds in the middle of the store was always fun; working late until the early hours of the morning to help the visual team set up creative window displays; and the excitement of a new season stock delivery are just a few of these memories. Despite having always been a champion of the store, I do believe its closure was for the best.

In recent years the once immaculate store had become like a jumble sale, with products continually on sale, and a stack em’ high, sell em’ cheap approach that didn’t fit the original ethos of the company. Ironically, they weren’t selling cheaply enough and were soon a victim of their success, being priced out of the market by larger, more stable retailers with better buying power. As the company struggled, the original and creative elements that the brand offered - including their inspiring catalogue, which was soon dropped to save money and the brand began to loose its originality at an alarming rate.

Given the sad news of the closure, I wanted to share some of the brand’s styling from catalogues of bygone years, much of which inspired me to pursue a career as a Prop Stylist. So long, Habitat, you’ll be missed. If you’re interested you can read analysis of what the brand’s closure means for British design here and here.

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