Habitat Ltd, furniture and household goods manufacturer and retailer: records

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Samples of packaging (ca.1960 - ca.1991); display and handling manual (1960s); press cuttings and tearsheets (1963 - 1998); photographs by John Maltby (ca.1964); colour transparencies, negatives and slides, relating to Habitat events, premises, stores and staff (ca.1964 - ca.1994); press releases (1964 - 1972); Habitat catalogues for the UK markets (1964 - 1995); invitations, leaflets and press packs (1964 - 2000); annual reports and accounts (1965 - 1986); advertising records (ca.1966 - 1990); Cook's Diary containing recipes by Caroline Conran (1967 - 1983); Lupton Morgan catalogues (1968 - 1969); leaflets and publications produced by Habitat (ca.1969 - ca.1985); catalogues relating to Conran companies (1969 - 1994); promotion and display briefs (ca.1970 - 1994); in-house magazines (1970 - 1990); Clothes Line catalogues (1972 - 1973); Gardener's Diary (1973 - 1983); Habitat catalogues for French markets (1973 - 1994); display manager files (1977 - 1988); Conran catalogues for the USA markets (1979 - 1988); staff booklet (ca.1980s); brochure for stock flotation (1981); Habitat catalogues for Belgium (1982 - 1983); Seibu Habitat catalogues for Japanese markets (1982 - 1984); press office folders (1982 - 1990); colour transparencies, contact sheets, negatives and slides, relating to Habitat product ranges (1986 - 1998); audio and video tapes (1987 - 1994); Habitat catalogues for USA markets (1989 - 1993); press office files (1990 - 1994); visitors' books (1990 - 1995); posters (1990 - 1996); day files (1991 - 1992); papers relating to the Habitat 20th birthday celebrations in France and 30th birthday celebrations in the UK including cards, invitations and guest lists for parties (1993 - 1994); slides of Habitat products, stores and window displays (undated).

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1957 Terence Conran founded the Conran Design Group , a design consultancy which also manufactured and marketed furniture for commercial and domestic use. The furniture produced was simple and modern but Conran felt that there were no appropriate retailers for it, so in 1964 he founded Habitat Ltd incorporating the company Habitat Designs Ltd . The first shop opened at 77 Fulham Road, London. Habitat sold its own furniture and household items as well as pieces by other manufacturers (especially French, Italian and Scandinavian). Conran's vision was to design and market simple, smart and reasonably priced furniture and household goods in a stylish open-plan store, in order to make shopping for the home an enjoyable and impulsive activity among the fashionable young. The success of the first shop enabled him to open a second shop on Tottenham Court Road, London and by the end of the 1960s there were five branches. Other stores opened in France and the USA in the early 1970s. By 1994 there were over 80 stores throughout the world. Habitat introduced its first catalogue in 1966 and in 1969 a mail-order service was launched. In 1981 Habitat was floated on the Stock Exchange and in 1982 it merged with Mothercare to form Habitat/Mothercare Group plc , which then merged with British Home Stores in 1986 to form Storehouse . In 1992 Storehouse sold Habitat UK and Habitat France to the Stichting Ingka which continues to operate the companies as separate divisions under the Habitat name.

Conditions Governing Access

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

Gifts of Habitat Ltd, 1995, 1996 and 2000.

Other Finding Aids

This online catalogue is a complete description of the archive to file level. A summary description is also included on the National Art Library computer catalogue, and in the published Guide to the Archive of Art and Design

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Related Material

National Art Library information file.

Bibliography

Weaver, Ben. Habitat Designs Limited - lifestyle, retailing and the media 1963 - 1973. 1994. 149 leaves. Thesis (M.A.) Royal College of Art and Victoria and Albert Museum, 1994. Includes bibliography. Willats, Stephen. The house that Habitat built. London: Habitat, 1989. [16] p., ill. ISBN 0948797304. Habitat Ltd trade catalogues are available in the National Art Library.