“One of my earliest memories, when I was four, is of spinning in an Egg chair. It was at my parents’ home in Mudeford, just outside Christchurch. My father was an architect – hence the Egg. I’m guessing it was the trendiest chair back then. It was created in 1958 by Arne Jacobsen, so when I was four it was only eight years old. Now my two-year-old son does exactly the same in my chair. He’s worked out a way of climbing onto it and watching the TV from every angle.
It’s not that I’m a fan of 1950s design. Over the years I’ve become quite agnostic with regard to eras and design styles – quality always wins out for me. Having been Philippe Starck’s partner [the pair co-founded Yoo together] for the past 20 years, I had a pang of guilt when I named the Egg as my favourite, because I really should be saying the Royalton or the Ghost chair, or any of the brilliant work Philippe has done. But as I happen to have six Egg chairs, this design obviously resonates with me. I also know he loves them as he borrowed one from my living room for the opening of the St Martins Lane Hotel many moons ago.
I have a white, tan and brown Egg at my Notting Hill home. I have a white one in my place at The Lakes by Yoo [the luxury waterside development in the Cotswolds] – I love it, as you can be sitting in the lounge and then spin around to look out over the water. I also have orange and mustard-green versions in my Marylebone office. The white leather Egg at my London home has moved with me three times. It’s a great thinking chair. It was originally bought for a house in Little Venice in the minimal ’80s. It was a sort of John Pawson-inspired Egg chair!
I see home as the most important place in your life – and you need to feel secure there. I was reading about how Jacobsen took Saarinen’s idea of the Womb chair and developed it into the Egg. I find that concept extraordinary, in that it’s a place of safety, comfort, freedom and thought. Your Egg chair is your womb, your nest. When people come to meetings in my office, I sit them in one. I want them to feel as comfortable and confident as possible.
There’s an element of nostalgia for me too. Clutter has a bad name, but it’s good if you fill your home with things that have an emotional connection and create a state of contentment. Everything around you will evoke a memory, and the reason why I love the Egg chair is that it’s a piece of childhood happiness. I’m looking at it now and it stirs up many memories. It brings a tear to my eye when I recall my father sitting in it.”