June 18 2010
My style icon is my dad, because he was clever and multifaceted, and had an obsessive attention to detail. When I was six years old he didn’t like my regulation prep school uniform shorts, so he sent me off to Doug Hayward in Mount Street to get them retailored. Douglas Hayward, 95 Mount Street, London W1 (020-7499 5574; www.douglashayward.co.uk).
The last thing I bought and loved is a cast-iron and aluminium fire surround designed in the mid-1960s by my father for the National Coal Board. Although he was by then a yacht designer, he also worked on other projects such as houses, an airline livery, a car for Jensen. The fire surround looks like a camera lens iris – the design was decades ahead of its time. He designed half a dozen fireplaces for the Coal Board. And I found this example on the internet, in a yacht forum, of all places.
And the thing I’m eyeing next is triple glazing to shut out the awful noise in my street (just off the King’s Road) from the late-night revellers and traffic.
The site that inspires me is the Westminster Abbey Cloisters, which I love, especially on a moonlit night. The effect of the light and the shadows on the architecture creates an amazing atmosphere.
The last meal that truly impressed me – as it does every time – was at Trattoria Busa alla Torre da Lele on the island of Murano near Venice. We go there every year for lunch with old friends on our way back from our ski trips. We generally have what we are told to eat by the rather domineering padrone – usually something like homemade tagliatelle with shrimps and mussels that have just been caught. It is honest food. Trattoria Busa alla Torre da Lele Campo San Stefano, 3 Murano, Venice (+39041-739 662; lunch only).
An indulgence I’d never forego is rowing on the tideway. I am a member of the Tideway Scullers near Chiswick Bridge, although now I row for the Veterans – I don’t like that word, they really should rename it Masters [the club has since done exactly that]. I row in eights, quad sculls, double sculls and occasionally single sculls. Tideway Scullers School, Dan Mason Drive, Chiswick Bridge, Dukes Meadow, London W4 (020-8994 4212; www.tidewayscullers.com).
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Miami, where I could soak up Cuban vibes, NFL Dolphins games, manatees and pelicans, and South Beach, and have a base from which to explore the Keys, which I’ve never done and have always wanted to. Plus my wife and son and daughter would love me forever. And there are yachts there.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could would actually be a group of three British pop artists from the 1960s: Patrick Caulfield, Anthony Donaldson and Gerald Laing. I have two lithographs and a screen print, which I would love to develop into a collection if I had the wherewithal.
The person I rely on for grooming and style is Delta, who cuts my hair at Smile on the King’s Road. I don’t really bother with anything else. Smile, 434 King’s Road, London SW10 (020-7351 5744; www.smilesalon.co.uk).
The best gift I’ve given recently was a bronze sculpture by John Farnham called Bear Form, which I commissioned for my wife’s birthday. I came across Farnham’s sculptures while working on a yacht interior: he is a disciple of Henry Moore. I love the patina of the bronze and the organic shape. 01920-822 327; www.johnfarnham.co.uk.
And the best one I’ve received is an alto sax made by the famous French saxophone maker Selmer. They are the best. I play at home and it shatters the peace. www.selmer.com.
My favourite room is the one I designed for the flat roof at the back of the house. It is a glass and timber-louvred room, where I can sit and listen to loud jazz and snooze.
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be in advertising, but only if it were like it is on the television series Mad Men. I would like to have a job that’s a hybrid of creative thinking and looking after accounts.