The Aesthete: Dean Gomilsek-Cole talks more personal taste

Turnbull & Asser’s first head of design concludes his list of likes with Michael Caine, Diptyque Tam Dao fragrance and his love of Swedish cuisine

Dean Gomilsek-Cole at home in London
Dean Gomilsek-Cole at home in London | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

My style icon is Michael Caine. My grandfather used to let me stay up late watching films when I was a boy, and The Ipcress File really stuck in my mind. It was a very 1960s take on the English, and Caine looked immaculate in it, with his blond hair and topcoat. I got to dress him for Kingsman: The Secret Service in 2014. I bumped into him in a restaurant in Mayfair afterwards and he was a total gentleman. I reminded him who I was and he said, “Oh I remember – your shirts are so bloody expensive!” Then he laughed. It made my day.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the Applecross Peninsula in Wester Ross, a beautiful part of the Highlands. It’s a very isolated place, and the air is so fresh. There are only two roads going through it; one has the most incredible mountain scenery. Lots of people travel the world and forget to explore the countries next door.

Michael Caine (with Sue Lloyd) in The Ipcress File
Michael Caine (with Sue Lloyd) in The Ipcress File | Image: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

The best souvenir I’ve brought home recently is a brooch in the shape of a saxophone. I was at Pitti Uomo in Florence and I saw this guy on the street making name badges from coat hangers. He had studied fine arts and sculpture, and I asked if he could make me a saxophone pin. It’s so intricate, with the little keys and everything. He only wanted €5, but I told him I had to give him at least €10 because I was going to tell everyone it cost €100.

The grooming staple I’m never without is Diptyque Tam Dao eau de toilette, which has elements of sandalwood, rosewood, cypress and ambergris. There’s something familiar and comforting about the fragrance – rosewood is commonly used in the midcentury Scandinavian furniture I collect, so maybe there is an unconscious connection. £64 for 50ml EDT; diptyqueparis.co.uk. 

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The last music I downloaded was an early Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark single, Electricity. That song stuck in my head as a kid. I bought it after watching a BBC Four show about the first wave of electronic music. It still sounds groundbreaking. 

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Egon Schiele. His art really influenced me as a young designer – his elongated, almost painful-looking forms and visceral use of colour. Looking at his paintings it feels like you are intruding on something.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

If I had to limit my shopping to one area in one city, I’d choose Peckham. The owner of Threads, the vintage clothing store, trained on Savile Row – so they can alter anything they stock. You can also get handkerchiefs with interesting images sewn on them. Persepolis is good for rare herbs for Persian cooking, and the Flock and Herd butcher gives great advice on how to cook and carve. I also like Thames Gallery – I have been getting my frames done there for 10 years. Flock and Herd, 155 Bellenden Road, SE15 (020-7635 7733; flockandherd.com). Persepolis, 28-30 Peckham High Street, SE15 (020-7639 8007; foratasteofpersia.co.uk). Thames Gallery, 44 East Dulwich Road, SE22 (020-7635 8840). Threads, 186 Bellenden Road, SE15 (020-3784 0020; threadspeckham.com).

In my fridge you’ll always find pickled herring, an indicator of my wife’s family background. My mother-in-law always brings a fat wedge of Västerbotten cheese when she visits from Sweden. There’s always almond milk and Colman’s Mustard, and we use pomegranates a lot – my wife got very into Israeli cooking when she worked there. 

The Applecross Peninsula in Wester Ross, in the Scottish Highlands
The Applecross Peninsula in Wester Ross, in the Scottish Highlands | Image: Justin Foulkes/4Corners Images

A recent “find” is Rödeby Antikt, which is a loppis, a kind of yard sale, full of house-clearance objects, in Rödeby. We find good midcentury designs there. Recently we bought a Gunnar Ander candelabrum from Ystad Metall and a set of small lights by Hans-Agne Jakobsson. Rödebyvägen 2, 37030 Rödeby, Sweden (+464-5517 40979; rodebyantikt.se).

The best book I’ve read in the past year is The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. While I was working on a collection called The Artist and The Architect, an architect called Timothy Crum from Fine Architecture recommended it. Rand’s philosophy of objectivism makes for an addictive read. It’s hefty; I actually re-read it to see how it all worked. 

Diptyque Tam Dao fragrance, £64 for 50ml EDT
Diptyque Tam Dao fragrance, £64 for 50ml EDT

If I didn’t live in London, I would live in Visby, on Gotland, which has expanses of flat land and amazing vistas over the Baltic Sea. The people are proudly self-sufficient and the restaurants use incredible seasonal fruit and vegetables, lamb and fish, and the best caviars. I highly recommend Lilla Bjers, which has tables inside a high-ceilinged greenhouse. The whole space seems to glow in the long summer sunsets – it’s perfect for a little glass of rosé before dinner. Its farm store sells some of the produce you have eaten, as well as plants and the coolest little garden tools I have seen. Also – Bakfickan for lunch, where young chefs conjure up new twists on traditional Swedish cuisine. There is a great kitchen garden at Hotel Stelor, with a popular restaurant and a barn where local bands play in the summer. Bakfickan, Stora Torget 1, 62156 Visby (+464-9827 1807; bakfickanvisby.se). Hotel Stelor, Västergarn Stelor 117, 62230 Gotlands Tofta (+464-9824 5006; stelor.se). Lilla Bjers, Västerhejde, Lilla Bjers 410, 62199 Visby (+464-9865 2440; lillabjers.se).

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a writer. I recently took a course with Literary Kitchen, run out of a small coffee shop called Daily Goods in Camberwell. I’m an optimistic person, but I write quite dark fiction. One of the first pieces I wrote was a story about someone joining a writing group with a plan to kill everyone off in the group. I like the idea of being put on edge, or being able to put someone on edge, with writing. Daily Goods, 36 Camberwell Church Street, London SE5 (020-7734 1885; dailygoodslondon.com). literarykitchen.co.uk.

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