cover image Plain Simple Useful: The Essence of Conran Style

Plain Simple Useful: The Essence of Conran Style

Terence Conran. Conran Octopus (Hachette, dist.), $34.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-84091

This beautifully packaged tome shows yet again that Conran (How to Live in Small Spaces) has an uncanny ability to provide people with exactly what they want after they want it. Now that the tiny house movement has exploded, and spare is the new lux, Conran presents his version of a pared-down aesthetic. It is doubtful, however, that the average citizen can pull it off. Yes, there is the occasional helpful tidbit, with strategic information on Unfitted Kitchens (that is, sans cabinets or built-in appliances), Storage, or Shared Work Areas. Less successful are color-coded charts interspersed throughout the book, which are visually complicated and hard to decipher, the book title notwithstanding. While the attractively aspirational photographs of perfectly stained floors, clutter-free kitchen tables, and neatly arranged kiddie detritus imply that all this sparseness is possible, those with small children and furry pets might be tempted to add another word to this book's title: "Housekeeper." (June)