My style icon is Bryan Ferry. I looked up to him as a teenager because he dressed so beautifully – very smartly, as they would in the 1930s – even when most people thought dressing casually was the cool thing to do. He had this glam-rock side, too, that channelled a sort of extreme version of the 1930s and art deco. He took male types – the sailor, for example – and exaggerated the looks to make them sexy.
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Japan. Isetan in Tokyo is the most amazing department store. It has a whole tower block devoted to menswear. I also got obsessed with its homewares department. Local makers have small stands there for a week at a time, so it’s always changing. I bought a lot of pottery. A real must-visit is the Nezu Museum, which has some superb antique art in a beautifully designed building and the best Japanese garden I have ever seen. I also discovered an amazing bookshop called Tsutaya. It’s made up of three pavilions and has a section entirely dedicated to cars, with endless books from around the world. I headed out of Tokyo, too, to the Izu Peninsula, where I stayed at Arcana Izu, a 16-room hotel that sits on the edge of a gorge. It has a great spa and a French restaurant, where you sit around a bar looking out into the trees while the chef pipes decorative patterns onto the food spinning on a record deck. Arcana Izu, 1662 Yugashima, Izu City, Shizuoka 410-3206 (+81558-852 700; arcanaresorts.com). Daikanyama Tsutaya, 175 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0033 (+813-3770 2525; real.tsite.jp). Isetan, 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022 (+813-3352 1111; isetan.mistore.jp). Nezu Museum, 6 Chome-5-1 Minamiaoyama, Minato, Tokyo 107-0062 (+813-3400 2536; nezu-muse.or.jp).
An indulgence I would never forgo is red wine from Domaine de la Mordorée in Tavel. It’s a relatively young winemaker working in a very rocky region, which means the vines grow quite slowly, giving some very rich flavours. Its wines are wonderfully intense, honest and earthy and I was paying about £6 a bottle for them in France until Robert Parker started giving them top ratings. The price went up about 400 per cent after that. 250 Chemin des Oliviers, 30126 Tavel (+334-6650 0075; domaine-mordoree.com).
The best book I’ve read in the past year is The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild. It’s about a Watteau painting that talks, and this young lady discovers it and other people try to get hold of it – the book takes you through the low life and the high life of London.
The best souvenirs I’ve brought home are some turquoise bowls I bought in Cornwall from a potter called Delan Cookson. When I’m away I like to buy the local version of something I’m already fascinated with, to see how it’s made. thealvertongallery.co.uk.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Cundo Bermúdez. He took what Picasso was doing but added some joy and made it into a party. Picasso can be a bit serious for me. I saw Bermúdez’s work when I went to Cuba a couple of years ago and stayed in this mind-blowing hotel called the Habana Riviera, which was built by the American mafia in the 1950s and hasn’t been touched since. The art there is integrated into the architecture – it’s way beyond just hanging a picture on the wall. Paseo 1e/1ra y Malecón, Vedado, Havana (+537-836 4051; hotelhavanariviera.com).
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Little Venice in London, specifically around Clifton Road, which is a lovely little high street. Mary’s Living & Giving Shop is a charity shop set up with the help of Mary Portas that always has some great finds, from 1960s glassware to vintage jackets, and Absolute Flowers is my go-to for emergency presents – its eclectic array of vases make a great upgrade to a bunch of flowers. I also call into Malcolm Russell’s Retro Living round the corner. I like to have something vintage for the projects I am working on and he always seems to have just the right piece, from ’60s Murano glass to a set of Niels Koefoed dining chairs. There’s a wonderful wine shop called The Winery, and Maguro is one of the best Japanese sushi restaurants around. Absolute Flowers & Home, 12-14 Clifton Road (020-7286 1155; absoluteflowersandhome.com). Maguro, 5 Lanark Place (020-7289 4353; maguro-restaurant.com). Mary’s Living & Giving Shop for Save the Children, 11 Clifton Road (020-7289 9648; savethechildren.org.uk). Retro Living, by appointment, 07976-628 124; retroliving.co.uk. The Winery, 4 Clifton Road (020-7286 6475; thewineryuk.com).
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Berlin, because it’s the only place that I think rivals London in terms of culture and creativity. The Neues Museum is Berlin’s version of the V&A. It was left abandoned after being bombed in the second world war, but has since been carefully restored by David Chipperfield to its former splendour – yet without hiding its scars. It is unique, compelling, with exhibitions of things like Rhine treasures from the third century AD. I also love Charlottenhof Palace, the summer residence of Crown Prince Frederick William built in 1826 by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. The original interiors are still there, and its pared-down grandeur is an inspiration for me. Clärchens Ballhaus is a great live music venue straight out of Cabaret – it has been there for over 100 years and is all about dancing, from swing and tango to salsa and jazz. And for a classic Berlin department store it has to be KaDeWe, where the Chocolate Bar is an absolute treat. I recommend the pralines and truffles. Charlottenhof Palace, Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse 34A, 14471 Potsdam (+0331-969 4200; spsg.de). Clärchens Ballhaus, Auguststrasse 24, 10117 (+4930-282 9295; ballhaus.de). KaDeWe, Tauentzienstrasse 21-24, 10789 (+49302 1210; kadewe.de). Neues Museum, Bodestrasse, 10178 (+4930-2664 24242; smb.museum/en).
In my fridge you’ll always find coconut water, kale and broccoli. My day starts healthily, with the gym and a green smoothie.
An object I would never part with is my bright red, 1958 Frogeye Austin-Healey, which I spent three years restoring with my dad. He gave it to me for my 16th birthday; it’s had a couple more restorations since, but I still drive it. There’s no car out there today that’s anything like it. It’s low – like a go-kart – noisy, cheeky and raw. I love driving it in France.
The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are my hairdresser John McLachlan and the personal trainers at The Library gym in Notting Hill. I’ve been going to John for 22 years, at his flat in Notting Hill: he’s cut Michael Douglas and Shirley Bassey’s hair and I just let him decide what’s best for me. At The Library, where I’ve been going for seven years, you have a card with your exercises on and each time you go you do an intense 15-minute workout with a personal trainer, focusing on a different part of your body. It’s such hard work it’s like doing an hour anywhere else. John McLachlan, firstname.lastname@example.org. The Library, 206-208 Kensington Park Road, London W11 (020-7221 7992; thelibrarygym.com).
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be either a pub landlord or a psychiatrist, because I would be able to interact with people, like I do now. My motivation in interior design is my clients – I like meeting them and doing something to try to improve their lives. Plus, if I were a psychiatrist I could have a nice couch.