Created by Sebastian Conran (son of our Tel) Universal Export couldn’t be more British and yet I discovered it for the first time when browsing round the newly opened London branch of US store westelm. The name is a play on Universal Export, the fictional import-export company of James Bond which is a moniker that only a person of a certain age would have come up with (and possibly regard as cool too) as well as a reference to the design ethos of the brand.
“Universal reflects flexible use, affordability and aesthetic appeal and Expert stands for quality and performance,” says a spokesman. I’ll leave you to decide which ones apply to Bond.
The collection has many kitchen pieces (Sebastian is a keen cook and has just designed a hob for Belling) as well as storage and utility. The range is available at westelm, as mentioned, as well as Lakeland and John Lewis.
Apparently, Sebastian fell in love with the Brooklyn branch of westelm and was keen to launch his products there. One of the great things about the company is that they are always looking for collaborators and were happy to stock him exclusively in the US for a while. Obviously when they came to the UK, Sebastian came too.
Having seen several of the pieces in true life (as my youngest would say) I can attest that they are simple, pleasing to hold and would fit comfortably in my kitchen, as, I imagine, they would in yours. They have also been designed to stack really well in the dishwasher, which is the sort of practical detail that we approve of in the Mad House.