July 14 2010
While recently visiting the big-brand furniture showrooms that have moved into London’s Clerkenwell (Moroso, Flos, Poltrona Frau), I discovered a tiny shop that brings the spirit of Aquitaine right to London’s heart.
Called Pigment & Patina, it specialises in vintage country furniture and home accessories from south-west France and sells just the kind of one-off pieces that suit the laid-back look I favour at home. Some furniture, such as an 1840s dresser that I admired but couldn’t afford (£5,200), has been restored and sympathetically re-painted (dove grey in this case), but other pieces, such as a tall cabinet with peeling, blue paintwork and an original lock (£4,500), remain untouched.
It’s the imperfections that I find so enchanting: mirrors with dreamily mottled, original glass (from £400), rusted, 1930s wire baskets (£30), a vintage green glass demijohn with no stopper (£65), creamy, vintage, hessian bed-linen that I’d find too scratchy to sleep on but could turn into a wonderful window-blind or tablecloth. Personally, I’m seduced by the aura around these things – the back-story that gives each piece its personality, character and charm. For example, the monogrammed tea towels from the 1920s (£10 each) set my mind racing. Who was RG? Could he or she become the catalyst for a novel?
Chatting to the owners, Nicolas Carr-Forster and Stephan Oberwegner, who were both in the shop that day, I learned that they are partners in the interior design company that revamped the Hempel Hotel in London and The Lygon Arms in the Cotswolds. They told me they could create either a contemporary or rustic look for clients but favoured the latter in their own farmhouse in Aquitaine.
At a time when even high street homeware brands are introducing faux-rustic furniture and accessories to their ranges, I sense that they will have their hands full meeting demand for the delightfully weathered, original pieces they’ve culled in France.