The Aesthete: Rebecca Willer talks personal taste

Since opening her art and design gallery in 2005, the interiors expert has earned an international following for her fine objets and clever collaborations with artists

Image: Trent McMinn

My personal style signifiers are my big, bold earrings. Current favourites are long, black, dangly strands of beads and carved horn, which I buy at Monies, a Danish jeweller in Paris. I also always wear black, and it’s always Issey Miyake; I’ve collected about 100 pieces over the past 20 years. In my head I have a map of worldwide Miyake stores: my favourite is on Rue Royale in Paris. Issey Miyake, 11 Rue Royale, 75008 Paris (+331-4887 0186; isseymiyake.com). Monies, 320 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris (+331-4020 9001; monies.dk).

The last thing I bought and loved was my dog Gina, an Italian Spinone: big, shaggy and bearded. I walk her near home, in Kensington Gardens and Holland Park.

Gina, her Italian Spinone
Gina, her Italian Spinone | Image: Trent McMinn

The thing I’m eyeing next is an Ego kitchen by Italian company Abimis. It encapsulates everything I love in a kitchen: non-fitted, in stainless steel. It’s a hybrid between a professional and a domestic kitchen, and it has a newly developed non-marking finish. Via Pontaccio 19, Milan 20121 (+39328-625 9868; abimis.com).

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Sri Lanka. It’s a perfect mix of sun, ancient sites, good food and pockets of exceptional architecture and design – one of which is the foundation of the late Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Our favourite hotel, Kahanda Kanda near Galle, was exquisitely conceived by English interior designer George Cooper. Kahanda Kanda, Angulugaha, Galle 80000 (+9491-494 3700; kahandakanda.com). Lunuganga Estate, Dedduwa, Bentota 32350 (+9477-330 8602; geoffreybawa.com).

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The best souvenir I’ve brought home is some shards of glass from Murano. Massimo Micheluzzi, a glass artist, took me there in a tiny boat. By the jetty were skips full of broken glass pieces in incredible colours, and I took a few home.

The site that inspires me is Villa Foscari, near Venice, designed by Palladio in 1558‑60. The proportions of the vaulted central space are breathtaking, the frescoes by Franco, Zelotti and India perfectly faded, the furniture simple, elegant and unobtrusive. It is both incredibly grand and homely. Via dei Turisti 9, 30034 Malcontenta di Mira (+39041-547 0012; lamalcontenta.com).

The glass shards Willer brought home as souvenirs from Murano
The glass shards Willer brought home as souvenirs from Murano | Image: Trent McMinn

The last meal that truly impressed me was dinner at The Five Fields in Chelsea. The owners grow much of the produce in a kitchen garden in Sussex, and last year it won a Michelin star. I had a wonderful starter called Winter, five variations on celeriac, cranberry and salsify in separate bowls. 8-9 Blacklands Ter, London SW3 (020-7838 1082; fivefieldsrestaurant.com).

The best gift I’ve given recently was an autographed publicity photo of cowboy Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger to a great friend for her birthday. We both grew up in the US with those 1950s TV programmes. I found it in a tiny antiques shop near my home. Arieta Decorative Arts, 97B Kensington Church St, London W8 (020-7243 1074).

 Villa Foscari, on the outskirts of Venice
Villa Foscari, on the outskirts of Venice | Image: Noboru Inoue, shinkenchiku-sha

And the best gift I’ve received recently was a rare piece of ancient Roman porphyry – a kind of purple stone – that my eldest son, who’s an artist, brought back from Italy. You might find a similar piece at McMarmilloyd, a very knowledgeable stone specialist in Wiltshire. 01672-870 227; mcmarmilloyd.co.uk.

The person I rely on for personal grooming is Charlie Chan at Michaeljohn, who cut off my very long hair 22 years ago and whom I have trusted ever since. 144A Brompton Rd, London SW3 (020-7589 4550; michaeljohn.co.uk).

The Rocaille Armchair by Henri Matisse
The Rocaille Armchair by Henri Matisse | Image: Succession H Matisse/DACS 2017

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Matisse. I never tire of his greens and reds and his extraordinary colour relationships. I am obsessed with the colours in The Rocaille Armchair.

My favourite websites are all sorts of news sites, from Bloomberg.com to NYTimes.com to Standard.co.uk. I’m like a magpie and love a good trawl through Sothebys.com, Christies.com and Bonhams.com – if I see something especially interesting, I always go to see it in the flesh.

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