The Aesthete: Matthew Hilton talks personal taste

Matthew Hilton designs furniture for The Conran Shop, SCP, Ercol and Case, and founded his eponymous London studio in association with De La Espada in 2007

Matthew Hilton at home in London
Matthew Hilton at home in London | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

My personal style signifiers are my Adidas Samba classic trainers. I’m not into fashion, but I’ve always been into clothes and I have a particular way of dressing. My style is practical, for work and travel. I’ve worn out about eight pairs of those trainers and I have three at present. From £69.95; adidas.co.uk.

Adidas Samba trainers, from £69.95
Adidas Samba trainers, from £69.95

The last thing I bought and loved was my Leica CL camera. I used to have an M9 that was lovely, but I found it frustratingly old-school. The CL has a smaller sensor, but is great quality and quite small. I have owned and sold close to 24 cameras since the early days of digital and none has been perfect. I’d love to design one. £2,250; uk.leica-camera.com.

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And the thing I’m eyeing next is another camera – I’d like the Nikon Z7, which is one of Nikon’s first full-frame mirrorless cameras. The light passes straight through the lens and onto the sensor, so you get a precise preview of the image on the viewfinder. From £3,999; nikon.co.uk.

Hilton’s Charlie Allen bespoke velvet jacket
Hilton’s Charlie Allen bespoke velvet jacket | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Mount Toubkal in Morocco. The trip was my girlfriend’s idea. We stayed four days in the winter and the mountains were beautiful, but as we climbed with our guide past the snow line, the wind got so strong it was knocking us over, so we had to go back down. Now I want to return there and climb higher.

Eduardo Chillida’s Eulogy to the Horizon, in northwest Spain
Eduardo Chillida’s Eulogy to the Horizon, in northwest Spain | Image: Alamy

An indulgence I would never forgo is good coffee in the best place I can find locally, wherever I am. I try not to think about my mood before finishing the first cappuccino or flat white of the day; early morning is not a good time for me. There is a place called Four Boroughs that I go to on the way to my studio in south London. It’s popular with cyclists and I’m into cycling too. 10 Church Road, London SE19 (fourboroughs.co.uk).

Hilton’s Leica CL 24 MP digital camera, £2,250
Hilton’s Leica CL 24 MP digital camera, £2,250 | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

The last music I downloaded was At Fillmore East the first live album by the Allman Brothers Band. I love the blend of rolling guitar blues and jazz. I was honoured to meet Chuck Leavell, the keyboard player, a year or so ago and he was charming. The Allman Brothers and Van Morrison were part of my first outdoor-festival experience at Knebworth in 1974. 

Kricket White City in the renovated BBC building
Kricket White City in the renovated BBC building

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is sculptor Eduardo Chillida. His work looks like it was built, but with minimal intervention. I like the massive weight of it. The pieces look like industrial objects, but there are also faces and torsos, and they have interesting little joints and curves. I like the roughness and the power of them.

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A recent “find” is tailor Charlie Allen, who I knew during my college days and has great personal style. I have had velvet jackets and two suits made by him. 1 Coopers Yard, 181 Upper Street, London N1 (020-7359 0883; charlieallen.co.uk).

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Kricket White City, the Indian small-plate restaurant at the renovated BBC building. The food is very good, but what I liked most was the large contemporary space and the fact that I was with 10 or so people from my days at Habitat, a period of my career that was really important for me. 101 Wood Lane, London W12 (020-3958 2867; kricket.co.uk).

My favourite websites are ones about watches, which I am obsessed with at the moment. I find looking at these sites is a kind of meditation for me. I often visit Hodinkee.com and Watchclub.com. My most used apps are Trainline and Bus Guru.

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