Designer has been changing homes and palates since the 1950s. Now 80, the man who sold us lifestyle looks back at his achievements

This article titled “Terence Conran at 80 – interview” was written by Rowan Moore, for The Observer on Sunday 6th November 2011 00.02 UTC

It is, says Terence Conran, all about making. That's what he has loved doing ever since he was inspired by teachers at Bryanston school in Dorset to make pottery and art. He created and endowed the Design Museum in London in 1989 “to encourage this country to become a workshop again”; we “need to encourage people to make things”. Its job is “to educate, at all sorts of levels, from schoolchildren to industrialists”. Now he is giving the museum the building it currently occupies in Southwark so that it can sell it to help pay for a planned new venue in Kensington. The museum, as is only polite, is honouring Conran's 80th birthday with an exhibition about him, despite his protestations: “I don't want to be seen… I've always kept my name out of the Design Museum.”

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