You would have thought Sophie Conran, English interior designer; cook, writer and mum of two would have her hands full? Maybe so, but that does not deter her from wanting to participate in The Faberge Big Egg Hunt where her egg will be presented at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower, Knightsbridge in aid of the Elephant Family and Action4Children initiative.
Sophie Conran, daughter of designer and restaurateur Sir Terence Conran and food writer Caroline Conran will be exhibiting her eggcellent design egg for The Big Egg Hunt. The Big Egg Hunt unveils on Shrove Tuesday, 21st February 2012 and lasts for 40 days and 40 nights with over 200 distinguished designers, artists, jewellers and architects contributing such as; Vivienne Westwood, DVF, MUMO for Wolf & Badger, Selfridges, Tommy Hilfiger and Mulberry.
What was your inspiration behind your design for The Big Egg Hunt?
My egg is named The First Spring in Eden. I wanted it to embody the softness and beauty of the English countryside, blended with the joy and vibrancy of the tropics to create a feeling of the ultimate spring. The idea was for it to be uplifting and make you smile, the way seeing a garden of spring flowers or the first blossom does.
How long did it take you to come up with your design and what was the design process?
I came up with the idea of a ‘spring’ theme quite quickly as spring embodies rebirth and new beginnings in the run up to Easter and is rooted in time. Once we had decided on that, the design all seemed to flow. I chose the colour scheme and worked together with my team drawing numerous sketches and developing mood boards. It was great fun and we were all delighted when we saw the finished product especially when we heard that it would be positioned looking over Cadogan Gardens outside Jumeirah Carlton Tower. Those gardens are beautiful – an oasis in the middle of Knightsbridge!
What is your particular personal involvement with the charities?
I have not worked with either charity before but I have a great amount of admiration for both and am delighted to be able to support them.
What is a usual Easter Sunday set up in the Conran household?
Easter is always and always has been a day of intense activity for me with the flurry of excitement and creative mess. Tom my elder brother made a wonderful sculpture out of blown eggs one year when I was a child. I think he would have been about eight so I would have been six. The eggs were blown and then stuck together with glue in an impressive pyramid. I remember my awe at his creation and wondered why when I attempted to make anything the eggs crumbled in my fat little hands, the agony of being six. Easter is a day for kids and the stories about phoning the Easter bunny fill the house for days before. Teasing the kids about him having a cold so he can’t hide the eggs in the garden. Then on the morning swearing I have seen him. As we are normally a large and motley crew for Easter I prepare a large simple lunch, which I remember loving as a child, and can easily accommodate a growing crowd of all ages.
Can you give StyeNest any exciting inside news on any current or future projects you might be working on?
I have a range of lights coming out at John Lewis in March, which is really exciting, and also my first range of carpets in the summer with Axminster carpets. I am also working on launching an online shop. Watch this space…
You are an interior designer, a cook, a writer and most of all – a mum. What do you do for some well deserved “me time”?
I don’t start work until ten am because I keep that time in the morning as “me time” when I can have a cup of coffee, a bath and read my book for half an hour or so.
You have a very creative family. What do you do with your children to help keep the creativity alive?
I am one of those people who get pretty carried away with the prospect of a teamed get together. Egg painting and dying always form part of the day’s rituals at Easter. The creativity of the mini clan amazes me every year, with wonderful colours and bizarre interpretations of the egg as a canvas. I get totally enthralled in my own eggs too. I have lots of interests and they are keen to join in.
Style is obviously in your genes. What are your favourite brand of jeans and why?
James Jeans – They’re a really good cut for me and I love the colours they use; they have a great intensity of indigos.
What are your favourite designers?
In terms of fashion, I love Matches and of course Jasper’s range. Actually I popped round to his last week to find some new knitwear and came away with a navy blue cashmere coat. Not at all what I needed but it’s gorgeous. I also buy a lot from Dolce & Gabbana; I love the way they’re classic but still sexy and Missoni for their great prints.
Your recipes are so very wholesome and hearty. What advice would you give for mums who want to cook good healthy, nourishing meals but don’t have the time?
I love the transformation from beautiful raw ingredients to something tasty to eat. I enjoy the whole process, peeling, chopping, bubbling and serving. But if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen during the week, I have a few tips for those who work during the week: Pasta is usually pretty quick as is a selection of crudités, cheese and ham or salami. Make a big batch of something like soups, stews and pies and freeze some.
You must have a very busy schedule, what is your beauty regime that keeps you looking so fresh faced and young?
I eat quite a lot of organic food but I’m by no means a slave to it. In terms of products, I have quite a few things from REN – their face cream and body wash are amazing and I also love the Rose range by Jo Malone, especially their bath oil.
You have lots of quotes on your website, what is your one rule of thumb?
One Life, live it well.
Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
My parents are my greatest inspiration and have supported my love of cooking and design. My Mum’s a cookery writer and Dad is a restaurateur. We grew up with a vegetable garden and chickens, so fresh produce was always close at hand. The kitchen was the focal point of family life, what with all the testing of my Mum’s recipes; the room was always filled with warmth and delicious smells. My dad set up his design studio and carpentry workshop at the family home and there was always lots of great people and exciting ideas flying around.
Family is obviously a big part of your personal and professional life. How do you balance being a working mum?
I have never known anything different! My children are older now, but when they were younger I had a lot of support from friends and family members and I was luckily enough to be able to further my career at the same time as bringing them up.
Can you give our readers any top tips or advice on how to cope being a working Mum?
I think the most important thing is to plan ahead as much as possible, and also to be realistic with your time, don’t set yourself unrealistic goals.
When you are not busy working, what do you enjoy doing with the family?
There is nothing I love more than spending time with my family. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something too adventurous, even a walk in the park or going out for breakfast is a luxury when we are all together.
Do you have any favourite TV shows or books you are glued to at the moment?
TV – The Hungry Frenchman, Raymond Blanc for his passion, humour and hearty delicious food. Books – Malcolm Gladwell, Steven Levitt’s Freakonomics, classic novels like Tchekhov and Hardy.
What fashion spots have you made this season that your wardrobe won’t be without?
I do a lot of running around so practical and comfy is key. I love wrap dresses because they look good but feel like a dressing gown and I also have a rather expensive passion for cashmere and things that are beautifully made.
You have teenage children, how do you stay current with them and make sure you can always relate to them?
Communication – having fun and staying interested.
What is going to be the next interior and cooking trend of 2012.
Comfort and down to earth.