September 02 2011
Mark C O’Flaherty
My style icon is my friend, the wallpaper designer Tim Butcher, of Fromental. I can’t quite believe how impeccably turned out he is all the time. He’s my age, but he does my age brilliantly and I do it terribly. He always has a great sense of style, while I’m so focused on work that I look a complete mess. www.fromental.co.uk.
The best gift I’ve given recently was a Victorian Bargeware teapot, which I bought at auction in Wotton-under-Edge in the Cotswolds. My mother was aware that there used to be one in our family years ago and wanted one. I also gave her an iPad, and she’s obsessed with it. I love that technology has got to a stage that you don’t need a manual any more. Apple iPad from £399, www.store.apple.com/uk. Wotton Auction Rooms, Tabernacle Road, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire GL12 7EB (01453-844 733; www.wottonauctionrooms.co.uk).
And the best one I’ve received recently was a case of 1998 vintage Krug champagne. I visited its HQ for a tasting and was presented with several bottles on leaving. From £240 per bottle, www.bbr.com.
The best souvenirs I’ve brought home are photographs. I can’t live without my iPhone camera. I take 1,000 photographs every day; it’s my diary and the only way I can remember where I’ve been and what I’ve done. From £428, www.store.apple.com/uk.
An object I would never part with is my eight-legged lamb. It’s a wonderful piece of bizarre Victorian taxidermy that I bought from The Isle of Wight Wax Works museum when it closed down. I am not sure why I wanted it so much, but I know I will always own it.
The last item I added to my wardrobe is a shirt from H&M. I tend to make a whistle-stop trip there once a season and buy everything I need. My clothes get ruined quite quickly because I spend so much time on building sites, which is why H&M is so practical. For a special shop I go to Cordings in Piccadilly, although I prefer the odd colours of suits it sells rather than the famously bright cords. www.hm.com. JC Cordings, 19 Piccadilly, London W1 (020-7734 0830; www.cordings.co.uk).
An indulgence I would never forego is time. I lavish it on every project. I recently had a birthday and instead of celebrating I stayed up working until 2.30am. I haven’t had a holiday in seven years and I can’t remember the last time I had a day off – but it’s worth it because I love giving that time to my work, so really I’m the luckiest person in the world.
My favourite room is not actually in my house – it’s my studio, where I feel much more at home. I’ve always said that my studio should feel like the fifth-form common room at school: a creative, slightly messy, inspirational space with bags of energy. We have blood-red walls covered with antique portraits, corners filled with sofas, and a wonderful quiet area in a small chapel that’s hidden in the building.
The last meal that truly impressed me was at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, by head chef Steve Allen. The food was phenomenal. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Gordon for the past four years but I had nothing to do with the interior at Claridge’s. I’m a vegetarian and it’s always interesting to throw down that challenge to high-end restaurants, and with Steve Allen I feel effortlessly catered for. 49 Brook Street, London W1 (020-7499 0099; www.gordonramsay.com).
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the Lower East Side of New York. It’s full of totally pointless shops, such as Obscura Antiques & Oddities. I also like Katz’s Deli. I don’t really buy clothes, but I like food. Katz’s Delicatessen, 205 East Houston Street, New York 10002 (+1212-254 2246; www.katzsdelicatessen.com). Obscura Antiques & Oddities, 280 East 10th Street, New York 10009 (+1212-505 9251; www.obscuraantiques.com).
The people I rely on for grooming and style are few, if any. I pay 10 quid to have my hair cut at a barber’s called Q For Hair in Clapham North. I like the proper aristo faith in good shoes but a cheap haircut. 3 Clapham High Street, London SW4 (020-7627 2306).
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in might be Bristol or Bath. I grew up in that part of the world, but I never really got to know them. They’re real cities, but with communities too. I’d also quite like to live on one of those funny little Scottish islands with just 20 people on them.