Founded by Sir Terence Conran and launched in 1964, Habitat was aimed at ‘young moderns with lively tastes’ revolutionising the high street and the way in which furniture and accessories were sold.
The 1970s was a period of constant growth and innovation for Habitat, underpinned by its commitment to design excellence: in 1972, Habitat commissioned a collection of original prints from artists including Hockney, Blake and Paolozzi, the first of many artistic collaborations in the company’s history.
The 1980s was a period of mergers and demergers that saw the company linked, at various times, with Mothercare, Heal’s, Richard Shops and British Home Stores as part of the Storehouse Group, of which Terence Conran, knighted in 1983, became Chairman.
In 1992, Habitat (UK and France) was sold to Stichting Ingka, a foundation set up by the owner of IKEA.
In 1994, an exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum celebrated Habitat’s birthday: Selling Lifestyle, 30 Years of Habitat’ was its fourth most-visited exhibition that year. In 1996, Habitat set up its Art Club, commissioning limited-edition prints from Young British Artists Tracey Emin, Gary Hume and Gillian Wearing.
In 1999 Habitat launched its 20th Century Legends, a collection of thirteen re-editions in 1999 by legendary contemporary designers, including Verner Panton and Robin Day – and an instant hit.
And in 2004, the VIP (Very Important Products) collection was launched, comprising 22 products designed by personalities not immediately associated with home design. The collection was an immediate success, the Manolo Blahnik shoehorn selling out within weeks.
In 2009 Habitat was sold to Hilco and in 2011 Home Retail Group, owners of Argos and Homebase bought the brand and three central London stores. Polly Dickens, former Creative Director of The Conran Shop was appointed Creative Director.
In 2012 Habitat launched Platform, an innovative design initiative and gallery space housed in the Kings Road store. From mid-July a selection of Habitat products became available in over 200 Homebase stores nationwide.
For almost five decades Habitat has made outstanding design accessible to all. Times have changed, but the vision remains the same: remarkable design that is enduring, inventive and affordable.
Habitat has three London stores: Kings Road, Tottenham Court Road, Finchley Road, a transactional website www.habitat.co.uk and currently rolling out shop in shop concessions in Homebase stores countrywide.