Success Story: Maker&Son

Success Story: Maker&Son


Design runs in the Conran family, so it made sense for Felix to join forces with his dad Alex and launch a business that follows in the footsteps of his grandfather Sir Terence. Today, Maker&Son is the luxury sofa brand with a reputation for making the comfiest furniture around. We spoke to Felix to find out where it all started, how the business pivoted during the pandemic, and what it’s like working with family…

The first job I ever had was making and designing t-shirts. But I started my first proper business during my first year at university with some other students. It was a product design venture called CLAM Collective, and one of the best projects we worked on was designing and building a gigantic digital clock made from filament bulbs for the Heal’s store in Westbourne Grove. I then set up Felix Conran Studio and opened a co-working space with other likeminded creatives. More recently, I created a clothing line called C-L-O-T-H. It was a beautiful range of unisex artist smocks and we were picked up by a Japanese company, but that was just as Maker&Son was really taking off, so it had to take a backseat.
I didn’t make a conscious decision to go into the field of design. But I’ve been very good at following what I feel drawn to. Truthfully though, it would have been more rebellious if I had gone into mathematics or something off-piste.
Maker&Son came together over a two-year period. I co-founded it with my dad as we wanted to work on something together. We were working full-time on other projects, but we were adamant we wanted to start the business – we discussed it pretty regularly. We trusted our instincts and really believed in what we were doing. We each bring something different to the table, which is why I think we work so well together.


We knew we wanted to create a brand that embodied everything we loved. Being together as a family and being comfortable were both very important, so a sofa seemed the perfect way to start our journey. In the early stages, it was just the two of us, but three-and-a-half years later, there are over 150 people in the team. The spirit and vision of the brand has stayed the same, but it’s been great we’ve been able to expand.

As with any company, several parts of the business didn’t exist in the beginning. Teams needed building, processes needed refining, and there was a lot of groundwork to cover, but it’s wonderful to see the architecture – that was laid out by my dad and me – followed by so many people.
My dad and I are both heavily involved in the product development side of things. That’s what excites me the most. Anything that leaves the business creatively will have been influenced by both of us, but dad tends to have more oversight over paid content while I work closely with the web-related content, i.e. content design and the general function of the site.

Our father-son relationship has definitely changed. We are very, very close and extremely good friends. Right now, I honestly can’t imagine anything else.

I find my inspiration in materials and processes. I get a huge amount of joy and delight from testing things out. I am a very hands-on person, so I love to push things: twist them, bend them, heat them and just generally play with them. That’s when I tend to get a light bulb moment.
Working with family can be intense. In the early days, there were lots of late nights and early mornings, and we worked seven days a week. However, in some ways, keeping it in the family made that a bit easier and I can’t imagine having done it with anyone else. We already had a fantastic relationship so, when there were weeks of working together and living together 24 hours a day just to get things done, it all felt very natural. Now, lots of the discussions we have are much more strategic, and we have a huge amount of respect for each other. I would say we have a very smooth and very good working relationship.
Our father-son relationship has definitely changed. We are very, very close and extremely good friends. Right now, I honestly can’t imagine anything else.
My mother has been a huge influence. At a young age, she ingrained one question into me: when I said I liked something, she would ask, ‘What do you like about it and why do you like it?’ This notion of always challenging your own thoughts has stuck with me. You have to dig deep and understand why you feel the way you do. This was then followed with ‘So, how can it be better?’ This has become part of my DNA.

We knew there was no going back when we went international. Straight away, we started getting orders from Australia and we were totally elated (and a little surprised) that two people working in a small workshop in England had international appeal.
Great design is something you can live with forever – to the point where it almost disappears. The longer you have it, the more ‘ordinary’ it becomes. You want something to become part of your everyday environment rather than always questioning its usefulness, colour or material. A great purchase is something you may forget you ever bought.
Over the last 18 months we’ve had to pivot like every business. We have had enormous challenges and had to constantly revise our plans. But this has taught us how to be better planners, how to plan for multiple circumstances at the same time – we have a plan A, B, C and D. For a business growing through Covid, the agility it has taught us will be with us forever.
If you’re looking to go into business with family, make sure you trust each other. There is a really beautiful inherent trust which forms when you are part of a business that maybe you take for granted. It’s why so many family businesses exist – because you have the ability to be so open and honest with one another. It provides a good foundation for any company to grow.

Felix’s favourite…

Place in London My flat in Whitechapel, truthfully.
Room at home Kitchen – I have a cookbook in the pipeline…
Piece of furniture Table – I can eat at it, work at it, sit at it and laugh at it.
Place for inspiration Anywhere with fresh air
Holiday destination Greece
City Kyoto
Designer Ray Kaiser
Artist Patrick Caulfield or Alexander Calder


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