Multi-Purpose Creativity: An Interview With Felix Conran

Rosie Safaty

Excelling within the hugely respected Conran design heritage, the industrious student Felix Conran has created a stylish new multi-purpose bag in partnership with sustainability-driven modern design company Ohyo, headed by environmental scientist and former Dragon’s Den hopeful Guy Jeremiah. As someone who uses a broken leg as a starting point for the design of bowls rather than as an excuse to be lazy, Felix is an inspiration for both young designers and creative minds.

The bag in its tablet and messenger forms

Why do you think multi-purpose is important in a product?

Multi-purpose isn’t the answer to everything, I don’t want a soap dish that I can use as a shoe horn… the bag expands and contracts as and when you need it to, the multi-purposeness is a reaction to our busy, ever-changing lifestyles.

When you’re using the Ohyo bag, what form is it most often in?

I usually leave home with the smallest bag, only carrying a sketchbook, a pen and my keys, but I never know what I’ll bring home.

How did you decide on colours and materials for the bag?

I use the blue canvas because I totally love the feel and the texture, but it is not a performance material. We did some serious research into the colours and materials that people wanted, and these initial four were clearly the most popular. We do plan to add more colours and materials very soon.

The Ohyo bag, in all of its shapes and sizes

All of your designs are beautifully sleek. Is this reflected in your own home interiors?

Ohhhh my home! I have lots happening in my home, I could speak about this for ages. I love to create spaces, I’ll just quickly mention my wardrobe. It’s totally open, I made a gigantic pegboard that huge pegs stick into and you can hang anything off these: hangers, hats, trousers, bags, chairs…

How do you know when a design is finished? Does the design process ever frustrate you?

I never get frustrated by designing, it’s what I love more than anything, my design process is never a straight line and it’s never over, things can always get better.

Can you name any products that frustrate you on a daily basis because of their inefficiency or design flaws?

When I have something that doesn’t work well, I’ll make myself a new one. The beauty of 3D printing…

Do you have a favourite material to work with? What’s the weirdest material you would like to create a design from?

Materials all have specific properties, the fun bit is exploiting these properties and making things that are comfortable with the way they are made and what they are made from, finding that little bit of harmony. I would love to work with pure tin, it has this amazing plastic-like feel to it, there is definitely something interesting to be found.

Felix modelling the Ohyo bag

Would you say you’re a minimalist?

I like things to work, I love simplicity and honesty, what does this make me?

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever completed?

I don’t think I have a favourite. I made a bowl recently with a really dodgy, scary machine that would just tear through flesh if it touched you. I had no experience with the tool, that was certainly exciting!

Is there anything you would say no to designing?

Anything that was going to purposefully harm anyone.

Your ‘BYME’ designs are a collection of objects linked by their driving force, can you tell us more about the forces you feel from objects?

BYME is an ongoing project. It’s everything and anything I make without a brief: nobody asks for it and no one expects anything specific, it’s just me and a material, and I just see what comes out. I broke my leg on April Fools day this year and when I got home from the hospital, I was straight in the workshop, hopping, and for every day I couldn’t walk I made a bowl. I made 12 bowls from green oak, I made them from green wood so that when they dried out the wood would distort and crack, just like my leg.

What’s your dream project?

An entire home and EVERYTHING in it.

Do you have a favourite piece of furniture?

Yeah, it’s actually a four-poster bed that my dad made, I totally adore it. Such amazing proportions, so simple, gorgeous.

What was your favourite toy as a child?

What’s in your pencil case?

I generally carry just a few things: a 0.5mm black pen, a retractable cutting knife with a shallow blade angle, a tungsten carbide scribe, and sand paper. I always use pen, so every line is encouraged to be meaningful.

Where’s the most pleasing place you’ve been in terms of design aesthetic?

Copenhagen, it’s the one city where literally hours after arriving I felt like I could live there.

What is your most inspiring place or country?

Right here, where my friends are, that’s the most inspiring place.

Do you think your mindset is in the present or the future?

As designers we are constantly evolving, if we don’t prepare ourselves for the future we will get swept away by time. Forward thinking, current living.
The Ohyo Bag’s IndieGoGo campaign is now live.

To see more of Felix’s workings and creations, follow him on Instagram.

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