June 15 2010
My personal style signifier is the Tag Heuer Monaco watch my wife bought for me. The original was designed in honour of the Monaco Grand Prix and worn by Steve McQueen. It has been around since the late 1960s – a bit like me – and is clean and uncomplicated. From £1,895, www.tagheuer.com.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is a tiny island off the beaten track in the Dodecanese, close to the coast of Turkey, called Kastellorizo [also known as Megisti]. It’s desolate and a bit crumbly, with only about 300 inhabitants, but it distils the Greek experience in terms of the sounds, colour and smells you find there. I think of it as a powerful dose of concentrated Greece.
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is some battered old fishing floats, probably used to mark lobster pots, that I found in Key Biscayne, Florida, at the end of last year. The bright colours have faded and there are bits of old rope attached, but I think anything that reminds one of the sea is good for the soul.
A recent “find” is The River Café – not that River Café – just by Putney Bridge tube station. It’s a classic 1950s-style caff, with old blue glazed walls, tiles on the floor and steamy coffee equipment. It’s run by an Italian couple and their son and daughter, and is a gem. I go there a couple of times a week for toast and marmalade in a paper bag. 1 Station Approach, London SW6 (020-7736 6296).
An object I would never part with is my father’s original 1962 Aston Martin DB4, which he owned in the 1960s – at the time it seemed entirely normal being driven to school in an Aston Martin. He eventually sold it and moved on to another racy car. However, I managed to track it down on the internet to a dealer in Ohio – there’s probably not much call for right-hand-drive cars around there – and I broke every piggy bank to buy it back and restore it for my father’s 70th birthday in 1999. He died almost three years later, but I have kept it and still drive it when I can. www.astonmartin.com.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I would choose Tribeca in New York. I particularly love a place called Urban Archaeology in Franklin Street, which specialises in architectural salvage and architectural finishes. Afterwards I stop off at Bubby’s for one of its famous brunches. Bubby’s, 120 Hudson Street, New York (+1212-219 0666; www.bubbys.com). Urban Archaeology, 143 Franklin Street, New York (+1212-431 4646; www.urbanarchaeology.com).
The last music I bought was Oscar Peterson’s tune Hymn to Freedom. I like jazz and really like the economy of sound in this piece.
The books on my bedside table are John Lanchester’s recent Whoops!: Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay, a light account of the financial meltdown. And a book of photographs by Michael Dweck called The End: Montauk, NY, which features a surf community in the summer of 1975, with fantastic images. And a pile of Patrick Leigh Fermor books.
In my fridge you’ll always find several bottles of Peroni, and usually a very cold bottle of limoncello.
The last item I added to my wardrobe is a dark blue suit from Kilgour in Savile Row. I like the lightweight cloth and the understated cut. It’s my style, even though we don’t wear suits a lot in the design business, but sometimes I need one for client meetings. Kilgour, 8 Savile Row, London W1 (0800-953 5841; www.kilgour.eu).
My favourite websites are the BBC website – I’m an addict – and also the Tottenham Hotspur site, as I am a dedicated, long-term fan of the football team – albeit an absentee one. www.bbc.co.uk; www.tottenhamhotspur.com.