Style | The Aesthete

Ben Pentreath talks personal style: Part One

Architectural designer and shopkeeper Ben Pentreath has lent his talents to Lime Wood hotel and Poundbury in Dorset.

November 01 2011
Maria Shollenbarger

My personal style signifier is an old pair of Adidas trainers. I started wearing them when I lived in New York, 12 years ago now. It’s extraordinary how hard it is to find a plain white pair of Adidas trainers with three stripes – the basic ones. That’s what I have to search down whenever I need a new pair. www.adidas.com.

The last thing I bought and loved is probably a Ravilious mug, bought from Paul Rennie. It’s one of the original George VI coronation mugs, of which I understand very few were made. The combination of Wedgwood ceramics with Ravilious’s design is a potent, ultimately English thing: it’s The King’s Speech contained in an object. Rennies Seaside Modern, 47 The Old High Street, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1RN (01303-242 427; www.rennart.co.uk).

And the thing I’m eyeing next… Am I allowed to say that at the moment I’m not actually eyeing anything? I think I’ve got everything I want. But if I were to look beyond that, I suppose I might be eyeing a Fornasetti Palladiana chest of drawers, from Themes & Variations. But it’s an extravagance too far, and I’m actually very happy with the old mahogany chest of drawers in my bedroom that it would have to replace. £15,000, 231 Westbourne Grove, London W11 (020-7727 5531; www.themesandvariations.com).

In my fridge you’ll always find Berry Bros sparkling wine. I’ve decided I can’t afford champagne any more. Their sparkling is delicious, and has the poshest label you’ve seen in a while. And a large chunk of parmesan, from Waitrose; blueberries, generally. And if I’m entirely honest, some unidentifiable veg which has been in there far too long. £10.95, www.bbr.com.

The last item I added to my wardrobe was a lot of socks, from Cordings of Piccadilly. When I shop I tend to buy in bulk. I think I bought about 20 pairs; all colours. 19 Piccadilly, London W1 (020-7734 0830; www.cordings.com).

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Berlin. I took the office on a little trip to say thank you for a lot of hard work, and for a bit of inspiration. We stayed at Soho House. Every room is different, but all equally amazing – handy if you’re travelling with your whole staff and don’t want anyone to feel hard done by. Torstrasse 1, Berlin 10119 (+4930-405 0440; www.sohohouse.com).

And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is knowing that whatever I liked I actually left in the country it belongs in. When I was about 20 I did bring back six kilim cushions from Turkey, which I’m still in love with. But these days my obsession is travelling light, there and back.

A recent “find” is Fox & Flyte. It’s an online sort of emporium, created by three of the most enthusiastic but coolest kids that I’ve met in a long time. It basically indulges their common passion, which is just really great, beautiful stuff. The way it’s put together is so stylish; so much so that Bridie [Hall, manager of Ben Pentreath Ltd] and I got in touch with them, and in the autumn they’re going to be doing a pop-up in my shop. Ben Pentreath Ltd, 17 Rugby Street, London WC1 (020-7430 2526; www.benpentreath.com). www.foxandflyte.com.

The books on my bedside table are The Stranger’s Child, which I read the first chapter of but then read a cynical review in Private Eye, and since then I haven’t been able to pick it up. I love Alan Hollinghurst, but had massive suspicions after that first chapter. Also, there is a biography of Pugin, lent by a friend who said Pugin reminded him of me, which is a bit scary because I think Pugin was dead at about my age. Basically, the most read books on my bedside table are Reader’s Digest New Gardening Year and Christopher Lloyd’s The Well-Tempered Garden. My guilty pleasure is 1980s Dick Francis novels stolen from my mum.

My favourite website is Is It Going To Rain Tomorrow? I like it so much that I link to it from my blog. In a world of over-information, contradiction and extreme uncertainty, there’s something incredibly compelling about having a single-word answer to a question that, at best, has a definitively uncertain answer. Just a giant white screen with no advertising, no other text, just the word “yes” or “no”. If only life could be this simple. www.isitgoingtoraintomorrow.com.