Ben Gorham talks more personal taste

The Byredo founder concludes his list of likes with Istanbul, the best shops in Stockholm and the dark art of Francis Bacon

Ben Gorham at home in Stockholm
Ben Gorham at home in Stockholm | Image: Per-Anders Pettersson

My style icon is Robert Rabensteiner, fashion editor of L’Uomo Vogue. He carries off the perfect combination of classic Italian tailoring mixed with fashion.

The best book I’ve read in the past year is probably one of the ones I’ve bought about Venini glass – I’ve recently become obsessed with handblown glass art. But I’m a terrible reader. I didn’t learn until I was 10. It’s my big regret in life.

Robert Rabensteiner, fashion editor of L’Uomo Vogue
Robert Rabensteiner, fashion editor of L’Uomo Vogue | Image: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Istanbul, where I visited the palaces and some Ottoman houses from the 1800s. I met some great people and saw a lot of ideas being exchanged. It’s a city that is historical, vibrant, modern and progressive at the same time.

If I didn’t live in Stockholm, the city I would live in is Copenhagen. It’s still Scandinavia so there are lots of similarities with Stockholm – being on the water is a luxury I have always found important – but it’s like Stockholm’s wacky artist cousin. There is an openness in the attitude to food, life and culture there. I’m always discovering small, interesting places such as Storm, which has a unique approach to curating art, fashion, beauty and design. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is beautiful; there was an amazing Olafur Eliasson show there last year, with a river running through the entire space. And there are not that many tall buildings, which creates a sense of intimacy and of everybody getting on with everybody else. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Gammel Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebaek (www.louisiana.dk). Storm,Store Regnegade 1, 1110 Copenhagen (+45-3393 0014; www.stormfashion.dk).

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The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Francis Bacon. There is something about the darkness in his work, the relationship with life and death – his paintings contain a lot of the feelings I started experiencing when I became an adult.

The last meal that truly impressed me was at a Korean barbecue in Seoul called Samwon Garden, with really high-quality meat. It felt like a very family-oriented experience – you sit around these hotplates and they come and cook the food for you. There were different cuts of beef, some spiced and some lettuce-wrapped. American barbecue is about the sauce and thick cuts of medium or rare meat. This involved delicate cuts cooked right through, with lots of sharing dishes. 835 Eonju-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (+822-548 3030).

Traditional Ottoman house, Istanbul
Traditional Ottoman house, Istanbul | Image: Guillem Lopez/Alamy Stock Photo

The last thing I bought and loved was my SVAutobiography Range Rover. It’s charcoal grey with a black interior and has a massage function in the chair. I grew up in Canada, where cars are a big part of life. They’re completely unnecessary in Stockholm but I drive every day. I love listening to music or the radio and the feeling of being tucked away in an isolation chamber. I take my wife Natasa and my daughters Ines and Anouk on ski trips in Sweden, and we’ll also use it to get to our new country house that I’m designing on an island in the Stockholm archipelago. From £75,850; www.landrover.co.uk.

And the thing I’m eyeing next is an installation. In our country house there’s a perfect space for a large hanging artwork, under an exposed ceiling. In Korea last week I saw an amazing metalwork piece by Alexander Calder – abstract shapes hung from a ceiling in fundamental colours like reds, yellows and blues. Without knowing the price, I could imagine it hanging in my new house. www.calder.org.

Study for a Self-Portrait, 1964, by Francis Bacon
Study for a Self-Portrait, 1964, by Francis Bacon | Image: © The Estate of Francis Bacon. All rights reserved, DACS 2016. Heritage Image Partnership Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

In my fridge you’ll always find Swedish food, such as meatballs and fish; and a lot of vegetables. I can only cook Indian, which I learnt from my mother. She sends me masala spice mixes, so my spice cabinet is quite evolved.

The grooming staple I’m never without is a cream my wife found called Cetaphil. It’s an all-purpose moisturising lotion and a daily ritual. I use it on my face, body and hands every time I shower. My wife is an aesthetician; she always recommends regimens I have a hard time following, but this one is straightforward. From £7.50 for 100g; www.boots.com.

Kirsten, 1996, by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin
Kirsten, 1996, by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin | Image: Pers-Anders Pettersson

The best gift I’ve received recently is a framed photograph of a young girl named Kirsten from my friends, fashion photographers Inez & Vinoodh. It was part of an exhibition back in 1996. Her eyes are rolled back and she’s got white skin and bright red lips. There’s something disturbing about a child wearing lipstick and I find that paradox interesting. www.inezandvinoodh.com.

If I had to limit my shopping to one city, I’d choose Stockholm. I go to Sneakersnstuff for classic Vans slip-ons. I used to play basketball with the owners Peter and Erik and they would fly to Harlem and fill hockey bags with shoes to bring back to Stockholm, well before a sneaker culture had arrived here. Nearby is Konst-Ig, which has a very well-curated selection of books about art and photography; it always satisfies any curiosities I have. Our Legacy, a very wearable, somewhat utilitarian men’s brand I have grown to love, is around the corner from my office. And I have bought both vintage and new pieces of furniture from Artek, which was part-founded by Alvar Aalto, one of my favourite designers and architects; the new designs still stay true to Aalto’s ideas. Artek, Repslagargatan 11 (+468-462 9090; www.artek.fi). Konst-Ig Books,Åsögatan 124 (www.konstigbooks.com). Our Legacy, Jakobsbergsgatan 11 (+468-611 1010; www.ourlegacy.se). Sneakersnstuff,Åsögatan 124 (+468-743 0322; www.sneakersnstuff.com).

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An indulgence I would never forgo is my daily box of snus, a soft Swedish tobacco that people chew. It’s my only poison. I don’t smoke; I barely drink; I don’t do drugs. You can tell a Swedish guy on the street because his jeans have a ring-shaped mark from the wear of having a round snus box in his back pocket. I was a basketball player for a long time, so as an athlete smoking never appealed.

The site that inspires me is Stockholm Public Library. Even though I’m not a big reader I think there’s something magical about libraries, especially if you love architecture and history. It was designed by Gunnar Asplund in the 1920s during a shift in design trends, when functionalism started to take over. Odengatan 73, 11350 Stockholm (+468-5083 1100).

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be playing professional basketball. I watch a game of basketball every night on NBA.com and will watch two during the playoffs.

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