The Aesthete: Paul de Zwart talks more personal taste

The founder of craft furniture brand Another Country concludes his list of likes with the casual but knowing style of Gianni Agnelli, Morocco’s Atlas Mountains and shopping in Marylebone

Paul de Zwart at home in London
Paul de Zwart at home in London | Image: Sophia Spring

My style icon is Gianni Agnelli, the man who turned Fiat into a worldwide conglomerate. I don’t dress like him, but I do think he was the most stylish man around – casual but with this knowing combination of look and detail.

An unforgettable place I have travelled to in the past year is Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. They dominate the landscape and have shaped the country as much as the Ottomans and Islam. We walked in the Ourika Valley and discovered an amazing carpet warehouse, La Source de Tapis, on the side of the road. Ourika 42452 (+2125-2448 2458).

Gianni Agnelli
Gianni Agnelli | Image: Mondadori via Getty Images

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Barkskins by Annie Proulx, which tells the story of two French immigrants to Canada and their descendants over the course of three centuries, drawing on the fascinating history of how the continent was settled. 

The last meal that truly impressed me was made by our friend Amanda McArthur for a mutual friend’s birthday. She’s from New Zealand and the food was inspired by the flavours of her home country. We sat in the garden surrounded by verdant foliage and ate heritage tomatoes with pesto, courgette spaghetti and edible flowers, followed by pork belly with roast tamarillos, and rhubarb tarte Tatin.

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The best gift I’ve received recently was a green leather wallet by Want Les Essentiels. It was a birthday present from my wife Ariel and it’s so big that it acts as a sort of home office. I love good, everyday things and this is part of my every day. For similar, visit wantlesessentiels.com.

In my fridge you will always find Fever-Tree Refreshingly Light tonic water and, being  a Dutchman, a bottle of Conimex Sambal Badjak chilli paste and a jar of Dutch mayonnaise to eat with chips. I bring back a supply of the latter whenever I visit my family in the Netherlands, but if I run out, I fall back on a lemon-flavoured one by Belgian brand D&L. Conimex Sambal Badjak chilli paste, £2.70; hollandsupermarket.co.uk. D&L Lemon Mayonnaise, £2.49. Fever-Tree Refreshingly Light tonic water, £1.69; waitrose.com.  

Barkskins by Annie Proulx
Barkskins by Annie Proulx | Image: Sophia Spring

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a slightly workman-like, high-button cotton blazer by my go-to clothing brand Oliver Spencer. I can throw it over a shirt when I need to be more formal. Artist jacket, £295; oliverspencer.co.uk.

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Frans Hals. Hals’ portraits document an important time in Dutch history so it’s a link back to my nationality. My first purchase would be a moody portrait of a Dutch burgher or his wife in a heavy, mahogany frame.

Paul de Zwart’s leather wallet from Want Les Essentiels, a present from his wife
Paul de Zwart’s leather wallet from Want Les Essentiels, a present from his wife | Image: Sophia Spring

My favourite room in my house is the living space. The house is open-plan so there aren’t many rooms to choose from and this is where we gather together as a family. It’s wide and high-ceilinged, but quite cosy thanks to the two contemporary gas fireplaces we installed. The furniture includes two midcentury Robsjohn-Gibbings armchairs and an Another Country daybed, and there are several artworks by London-based painter Danny Rolph. Another Country Day Bed One, from £2,585; 18 Crawford Street, London W1 (020-7486 3251; anothercountry.com). Dannyrolph.com. Robsjohn-Gibbings, see 1stdibs.com.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Marylebone in London because it’s home to so many places that meet my needs. I can buy amazing cheese and bread at La Fromagerie, great meat at The Ginger Pig, contemporary classic suits at Trunk, all the books I could ever want to read at Daunt Books and then stop for a refined drink at the Chiltern Firehouse. Perfect. Chiltern Firehouse, 1 Chiltern Street, W1 (020-7073 7676; chilternfirehouse.com). Daunt Books, 83 Marylebone High Street, W1 (020-7224 2295; dauntbooks.co.uk). La Fromagerie, 2-6 Moxon Street, W1 (020-7935 0341; lafromagerie.co.uk). The Ginger Pig, 8-10 Moxon Street, W1 (020-3869 7820; thegingerpig.co.uk). Trunk Clothiers, 8 Chiltern Street, W1 (020-7486 2357; trunkclothiers.com).

Aesop Classic Shampoo, £17 for 200ml
Aesop Classic Shampoo, £17 for 200ml

The grooming staples I am never without are Aesop’s Classic Shampoo, Herbal Deodorant, Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Hydrator, Geranium Leaf Body Cleanser and Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste. It’s an expensive habit, but one that brings me great pleasure because they’re so wonderfully scented. From £17; aesop.com.

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is Milan. I grew up partly in Italy and the fashion capital has been going through a huge transformation, which has made it much more international. And of course, it has this incredible design heritage. I always visit Dimore and Nilufar galleries, both of which offer a fantastic mix of 1970s Italian design, the best contemporary pieces and forward-looking work. The Fondazione Prada is another must-see – the buildings were designed by Rem Koolhaas and embody what the brand stands for. I am always happy to eat at Ratanà. It serves quite traditional Milanese fare but at a very high level and is located in a lovely 19th-century villa that used to be a railway depot. The menu changes constantly, but last time I enjoyed Milanese-style risotto with ossobuco. Dimore Gallery, Via Solferino 11, 20121 (+3902-3656 3420; dimoregallery.com). Fondazione Prada, Largo Isarco 2, 20139 (+3902-5666 2611; fondazioneprada.org). Nilufar, Via della Spiga 32, 20121 (nilufar.com). Ratanà, Via Gaetano de Castillia 28, 20124 (+3902-8712 8855; ratana.it).

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If I weren’t doing what I do now, I would be an architect. I have several architectural heroes, including Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Eduardo Souto de Moura – I love his work on the Santa Maria do Bouro convent.

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