March 29 2011
My personal style signifier is a black poloneck jumper. It’s casual, yet smart, and very comfortable – a perfect uniform when I’m not wearing a suit. I buy about 10 or 15 a year from John Smedley. 24 Brook Street, London W1 (020-7495 2222; www.johnsmedley.com).
The last thing I bought and loved was a case of Château Haut-Brion 1982 from The Antique Wine Company. I tasted it at a dinner at Lancaster House, and found it particularly well balanced and deliciously smooth. 52 Upper Street, London N1 (020-7359 1109; www.antique-wine.com).
A recent “find” is a wonderful book-binder, Shepherds, whose craftsmanship is exemplary. I was intrigued by a hand-bound copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula I spotted. As you open the black cover, you see a trickle of blood-red leather inside. 76 Rochester Row, London SW1 (020-7233 6766; www.bookbinding.co.uk).
The books on my bedside table are The Case for Working With Your Hands by Matthew Crawford and The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono. I think a lot about timber, which is a wonderful material – it’s old-fashioned yet contemporary; high-tech and low-tech. You can polish or bend it. And it’s a completely renewable resource.
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Venice. It’s sophisticated, elegant and has such magic. I’m keen on places where people are still a part of the city, which is one of the reasons why I love strolling around Venice.
In my fridge you’ll always find a loaf of Poilâne bread, cornichons, a ready-meal from Daylesford Organic – I love their Thai chicken curry – coffee and some camera film. Daylesford Organic, 44b Pimlico Road, London SW1 (020-7259 0509; www.daylesfordorganic.com). Poilâne, 46 Elizabeth Street, London SW1 (020-7808 4910; www.poilane.fr).
The last music I downloaded was The Union by Elton John and Leon Russell, Bryan Ferry’s Olympia and Eric Clapton’s latest album, Clapton. Each is a return to his rock roots.
The best gift I’ve given recently was a Craigie Aitchison painting of a tree, to my wife, Serena, for her 40th birthday. I bought it from Timothy Taylor. It’s painted in bright colours in Aitchison’s wonderful naïve-primitive style. 15 Carlos Place, London W1 (020-7409 3344; www.timothytaylorgallery.com).
And the best one I’ve received recently, from a friend, was an iPad. What a brilliant design. I use it for work, especially to access Christie’s live auctions when I’m travelling. My children love playing games on it, too. From £439; www.apple.com/uk.
The site that inspires me is Bramante’s Tempietto of San Pietro in Montorio, Rome, which was built in 1502 to commemorate the supposed place of Saint Peter’s crucifixion. It was very inspirational for Sir Christopher Wren. At Linley we made an architectural interpretation of it in miniature as a jewellery box. Linley, 60 Pimlico Road, London SW1 (020-7730 7300; www.davidlinley.com) and branch.
An object I would never part with is my tool kit. It’s full of old woodworking tools – the sort you never need ask how to use, because you just know from the way they are designed. I received my first tool as a child and have added to it ever since. There’s an old woman’s tooth for chiselling out grooves, a Spiers plane and various Holtzapffel chisels, among others.
The last item I added to my wardrobe is a biker jacket, which I bought online from US-based Alpinestars. It’s in red and black leather – very slinky – and does the job perfectly. www.alpinestars.com.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is David Hockney. I particularly love his portraits and the swimming pool paintings. His frank, forthright approach makes you want to study them closely.
An indulgence I’d never forego is cheese – in particular a really unctuous Vacherin that I buy from La Fromagerie when in season. 2-6 Moxon Street, London W1 (020-7935 0341; www.lafromagerie.co.uk).