Universal Expert

I spoke to Sebastian Conran (son of Sir Terence, brother of Jasper) at Home London earlier this week where he was enthusiastically talking about his new kitchenware brand Universal Expert which is sold in John Lewis and in West Elm, the new American homes emporium on Tottenham Court Road.

The idea behind it is good quality, multi-functional, thoughtfully designed products which work well. Sounds simple enough.

There are stackable mugs, horizontal wine racks to save on space so you could store them in a narrow corridor, knife blocks for easy access and storage, a box grater and cookbook stand which fold flat, a jug which pours from under the ice cubes and doesn't drip, and several versions of sharing plates/boards. Much of it suits the small space reality of urban living. 

"I'd like to think people will keep this stuff", he says, "It's designed to take you through life". It'll need to as it's not exactly cheap. "It's not Ikea or Tesco on price", he notes, "it's what we'd call reassuringly expensive". He told me he used to be head of product design for Mothercare where every product had to be able to be used with one hand, and that sense of practicality has never left him - it's evident in the hand mixer which has all the fiddly cords and attachments neatly stored in a box underneath. 

I'm quite taken by the wooden chopping station with a stainless steel tray underneath for transferring the chopped food, or scraps. And the stackable wine glasses which go in the dishwasher. Handy.