The Aesthete: Robert Storey opens his black book of style

The spatial designer to Hermès, Nike and Prada is keeping his spirits up with Malian music, virtual yoga and “jazzy” trousers. By Victoria Woodcock

Robert Storey at home in London
Robert Storey at home in London | Image: Jeff Hahn

My personal style signifier is a chain ring by a brand called RP/Encore. A friend gave it to me and I’ve worn it every day for the past seven years. What I wear is quite simple, and I feel this small, sentimental ring sums up my style. The other things I wear all the time are hoodies. I have a Craig Green one I particularly like; the design is very well considered.

Storey’s style signifier – his chain ring by RP/Encore
Storey’s style signifier – his chain ring by RP/Encore | Image: Jeff Hahn

My favourite room in my home is the sitting room, because of its Victorian sash windows. They have a lovely pattern and as they’re south-facing, the sun shines through them all day. In there, I have a Paustian modular sofa in an amazing Yves Klein blue; a bold Melting Pot table by Dirk Vander Kooij, a Dutch designer who uses recycled plastics; and a pair of bright-yellow, midcentury Finn Juhl chairs, which my mum gave me when I moved here.

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The next thing on my wishlist is a Michael Armitage painting. He’s an amazing Kenyan-born artist who uses bark cloth as his canvas, so his paintings have a textural base. The colours are stunning: bright pastels with washed-out blacks and greys, mostly depicting people in Kenya. They’re quite dreamy. I don’t think I can afford one, but I look at them every day and think how much I want one.

The Dirk Vander Kooij Melting Pot table in Storey’s sitting room
The Dirk Vander Kooij Melting Pot table in Storey’s sitting room | Image: Jeff Hahn

The tech I couldn’t live without is a Sonos system. It’s in every room of my house, and I listen to music all day. I also have some Bose noise-cancelling headphones, which are amazing when my flatmate is on a conference call and I’m trying to concentrate on work. 

His noise-cancelling Bose headphones
His noise-cancelling Bose headphones | Image: Jeff Hahn

The best gift I’ve received recently is a towelling robe in a brilliant mustard yellow, given to me by my studio for my birthday. It’s also by Craig Green, who is one of my favourite designers. He created it for The Standard hotel. It’s a very thoughtful present, as I always wear a robe at home – and it’s been the perfect thing in self-isolation. $195 from shopthestandard.com

His collection of pine cones
His collection of pine cones | Image: Jeff Hahn

The podcast I’m listening to is 99% Invisible by Roman Mars. It’s about design and the everyday things we tend not to notice, but which have incredible stories behind them.

Storey’s mustard-yellow robe by Craig Green x The Standard
Storey’s mustard-yellow robe by Craig Green x The Standard | Image: Jeff Hahn

The last thing I bought and loved is a hand-dyed, prewar Japanese fireman’s kimono. It’s from a little Dalston store called Furuki Yo-Kimono Vintage, run by vintage-kimono dealer Sonoe Sugawara, and I’ve hung it on the wall of my bedroom as an artwork. It’s incredibly beautiful, with red and white stripes and Japanese writing. I love it because it’s got such a rich history. 

Storey at home in London, with his Finn Juhl chairs
Storey at home in London, with his Finn Juhl chairs | Image: Jeff Hahn

Since the lockdown, I have spent most of my time researching – so flicking through art and design books, which feels like such a luxury. A recent addition to my collection is People of Mud by Luis Alberto Rodriguez –portraits taken in County Wexford, Ireland, that capture the local community in both candid and choreographed moments in time. 

His pebble collection
His pebble collection | Image: Jeff Hahn

And the music I’m enjoying is by a Malian singer called Fatoumata Diawara. She has a beautiful voice and her songs are really uplifting. They just make me feel good. 

The floor lamp designed by Storey for Austrian lighting company Kalmar
The floor lamp designed by Storey for Austrian lighting company Kalmar | Image: Jeff Hahn

I’ve also been reading On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by the Vietnamese-American writer Ocean Vuong. It’s a very touching, semi-autobiographical book in the form of a letter to his illiterate mother. It’s a coming-of-age story that explores sexuality, identity and war. I also really enjoyed Naked by David Sedaris. He makes me laugh a lot.

Storey’s prewar Japanese firefighter’s kimono
Storey’s prewar Japanese firefighter’s kimono | Image: Jeff Hahn

In my fridge you’ll always find blueberries, dark chocolate and green vegetables. I’m a creature of habit and what I eat hasn’t really changed in the current situation. Apart from getting three cartons of oat milk, I didn’t do any panic-buying. I pretty much snack-eat all the time: rice cakes and peanut butter or hummus, some nice olives and cheese. But I’ve also been cooking more than ever. I love Indian food and Meera Sodha is a culinary goddess. Her book Fresh India is excellent. 

His crystals
His crystals | Image: Jeff Hahn

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe is a pair of Prada trousers – they’re quite simple, in blue cotton twill with a slightly cropped leg. I also recently bought a cool pair of trousers by American brand Eckhaus Latta. They’re jeans but they’ve got a hand-dyed pattern with green swooshes. Jazzy. Prada trousers, £545, from matchesfashion.com. Eckhaus Latta trousers, £303, from modesens.com

Campfire Glow serum by Cult of Treehouse
Campfire Glow serum by Cult of Treehouse

An object I’d never part with is a floor lamp called the Formative that I designed a few years ago for Austrian lighting company Kalmar. It’s very sculptural, with a glass globe that emanates light through a window. My dad prototyped it in wood. He’s passed away since, so it means a lot to me.

One of Storey’s recent reads
One of Storey’s recent reads

My wellbeing guru is a yoga instructor called Shira Hess. She leads a dynamic and philosophical practice, and teaches across London. Yogahome is now streaming her classes, so I’ve been doing them at home. Unlimited virtual membership, £35 a month

A rope vessel by ceramicist Ben Medansky, whose LA studio Storey has visited
A rope vessel by ceramicist Ben Medansky, whose LA studio Storey has visited | Image: Courtesy of Ben Medansky

The grooming staple I’m never without is a nourishing serum called Campfire Glow by Cult of Treehouse, which makes all-natural skincare from unrefined ingredients. It really does make your skin glow – and it smells incredible. $95 for 30ml

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There’s nothing I love more than summer holidays with friends. We were planning to go to the Italian island of Pantelleria in August, and I literally can’t think about the prospect that we may not be able to go. I’m going to put my head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening. I think that’s the only way to get through it.    

I have a collection of pine cones. I started picking them up on my travels and have about 20 next to my bed, all different species, arranged into a still-life. They hold memories of the places I’ve been. One is from Sri Lanka. I went there on my own in 2018 for my birthday, and meditated at the top of Eagle Rock, just outside of Ella, by a pine tree. Another is from the New Forest; I was there last summer to see my godson, who was visiting from Hong Kong. I also have a bunch of crystals around my house – one from Marfa, Texas; another from Chile. I don’t know much about their metaphysical qualities, I just love the way they look.

A recent find is online auctions. I’ve joined a website called Catawiki, which categorises all kinds of objects really clearly. I’ve been buying old design books. 

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to is India. Every year I take my studio on an inspiration trip and last summer we went to Jaipur and Chandigarh ­– two juxtaposing cities. Chandigarh was designed by Le Corbusier and is super modern – all concrete buildings and tree-lined streets. The Government Museum and Art Gallery he designed there is one of the most impressive museums I’ve ever been to. Then there’s Jaipur, with its old palaces. It’s beautiful and chaotic. I loved Jantar Mantar – an old astrological site with amazing architecture – and the colours everywhere. It was incredibly inspiring. It hasn’t manifested itself into a project yet, but it will eventually.  

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a sculptural work by the ceramicist Ben Medansky. When I was in LA a few years ago, I emailed him and asked to visit his studio, and he kindly agreed.  

If I weren’t a designer, I would be an astronaut. It must be incredible to see Earth from a perspective most people never see. I recently watched the documentary series One Strange Rock and it made me think that looking at our planet from outer space must be an almost religious experience.

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