House & Garden | Diary of a Somebody

William Yeoward

Awake with a start, to bed with Sky Plus: the designer’s pre-show day

William Yeoward

September 21 2011
William Yeoward

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

I wake up in our London flat with a start at 6am; I realise that this week is also the week that we are to exhibit at the Decorex exhibition in the grounds of Wren’s Royal Hospital.

The Royal Hospital is one of my favourite buildings in London. The elegance and beauty of the place, together with its history as a home for some of our most revered war veterans, seems to me a most fitting backdrop for the Decorex exhibition – which, after all, is all about showcasing excellence in designed product for interiors. Filled with a treasure-trove of beautiful work, the exhibition is mainly aimed at the design trade to show what’s new and good each year.

We have been an exhibitor almost every year since the exhibition was founded and certainly I notice that there are lots of young people bringing energy and interest to the show. I was thrilled when I found that Nicky Haslam has agreed to decorate one of the entrances, as this will unquestionably bring substance to the show; I was lucky enough to work for Nicky some 25 years ago, and my admiration of him as a person and of his talent has never changed. A true original with a great mind.

A quick morning routine takes me for my walk through Battersea park – normally with our dog, but sadly we are between dogs for a few months as we wait for Bobbie the Greek dog we have adopted in Lesbos this summer. Bobbie will be a great addition when he eventually arrives.

I like to breakfast at the Stockpot restaurant, near my store on King’s Road – one of the last local Chelsea eateries with great food, great staff and good value. We hold meetings in the Stockpot, too, as it’s so noisy one could never be overheard! My friend Joseph Ettedgui, whom I remember with such affection, always advised me: decide where you like to eat, and stick with it; you will be better served, better tabled and be much happier. It’s so true; I have favourites in all the cities to which I travel. The Viand café on Madison in New York is another great diner. I like simple – it suits me best.

So to the office and the round of meetings and checking that we are doing everything for the show correctly. First I meet with my general manager, Michael Williamson, who is in charge of the nuts and bolts of shows. He’s the one who makes sure we have a stand that’s ready to dress on the correct day in the correct position. I find that side of life a little troublesome – so I have always thought it a good idea to surround myself with people who do well what I do badly! The day soon slips by: telephone calls to far-flung places, suppliers to see, product to inspect, imagery to check are all part of being William. I’m so blessed with my team, of whom a good number have been with me many years. I’d hate to work for me, so I think they are super-terrific for putting up with me. However, we all are striving to make great products that are beautiful, useful and well priced for their position in the market, so all in all we just get on and do that.

Having spent a solid few hours on the show, I now know that the set-up will be well organised and managed, and with all in place I feel slightly less stressed about the weekend.

A quick swim and on the way home I pass by Mallett for the Ballyfin Book Party. Then feet up and telly, my favourite! I love Sky Plus so that I can watch things in my own time. I’m hoping that the machine doesn’t break down when Downton Abbey airs on Sunday, when I will be at Susan Crewe and Kate Slesinger’s House and Garden party celebrating their wonderful magazine. It’s always fun, and I always run into lots of people who come into town for the shows and who I don’t see often.

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