May 07 2010
Simon de Burton
My style icon is the tailor Ozwald Boateng. He always looks immaculate and incredibly stylish, yet he is totally down to earth. The way he combines colour in his suits, shirts and ties is wonderful and unexpected, and I’m very much looking forward to going for my first fitting with him. 30 Savile Row, London W1 (020-7437 2030; www.ozwaldboateng.co.uk).
In my fridge you’ll always find real butter and full-fat milk with cream on the top. I was born in Sheffield, in the north of England, and my grandfather was a dairy farmer. Skimmed milk and margarine don’t belong in my house.
The best gift I’ve given recently was a red toy racing car that I bought for my son, Zakary, at Christmas. He was just four months old at the time but the smile he gave me when we unwrapped it will stay with me forever, along with the fact that as soon as he saw what it was he instinctively grabbed the steering wheel. Classic Racer, £60, www.childrenstoysandgifts.co.uk.
And the best one I’ve received recently is a handmade glass object, and I won’t say who makes it. It’s totally abstract and has no use, other than to look beautiful. It is multicoloured and sits on the top of the cabinet where I keep my musical instruments, so I look at it almost every day.
The grooming staple I’m never without is Chanel’s Egoïste aftershave – not only do I like the smell, I like the packaging too. The bottles are beautifully designed. £32 for 75ml, www.chanel.co.uk.
The site that inspires me is the Matterhorn seen from Zermatt. The sheer scale and power of it is amazing. I love the contrast from winter to summer; the soft, rolling landscape when everything is covered in snow compared with the harsh sharpness of the exposed rock.
An indulgence I’d never forego is my Ducati 996 motorcycle. I bought it in 2002 and it is such a thing of beauty. I only ride it in good weather; the rest of the time it sits in my studio or in my house. www.ducati.com.
If I didn’t live in Henley-on-Thames, the city I would live in is New York. I’ve lived in California and Michigan, and I’d very much like to experience the buzz of New York. I’d set up home in Chelsea and make the most of the great restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries and, in particular, the Apple store.
An object I would never part with is my late father’s military dog tag from the second world war. Most people assume a dog tag is made from stamped metal, but this one is beautiful. It’s made from a sort of red Bakelite material with the Polish Eagle on one side – he was a member of the Polish Free Army – and his serial numbers marked on the other.
The last meal that truly impressed me was at El Poblet, outside Valencia. It is very modern yet with a traditional tint, and everything about the dégustation menu was amazing. The first course comprised a dozen different herbs, each forming the basis of a different, small dish – the idea being that we had to guess exactly what we were eating. This immediately set a conversation going which, to me, is as important a part of dining as the food itself. Carretera de las Marinas, Carrer Rascassa 1, 03700 Denia (+349-6578 4179; www.elpoblet.com).
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Jean Miotte, a French painter born in 1926. His work is best described as free-form expressionist. He’s not at all figurative, and I think I like it because, as a designer, my work has to be applied commercially to a product that people are going to buy, whereas an artist such as Miotte doesn’t need any justification for what he does. www.jeanmiotte.com. www.chelseaartmuseum.org.
My favourite room is definitely the kitchen/dining room – I like them to be one, preferably with a central fireplace. Cooking and eating are social activities and I enjoy them both a great deal, so the house that I am currently building beside the Thames will have a kitchen that looks across to the dining room and out to the river through a large area of glass.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be an actor. Part of being a designer involves immersing oneself into the object one is designing and, likewise, I think I would love the whole process of researching a role and developing my own thoughts about how a character should be portrayed. I’ve read about how De Niro and Pacino sit in cafés just so they can listen in and watch people. I doubt I’d be great; but I’d love to give it a go.