My style icon is... I can’t name a person, but there is a certain English look that I reference. It’s vaguely mod-ish, all about sharp tailoring, desert boots, a barracuda jacket, Aertex shirts and suits by Anderson & Sheppard. I do love British design, even if it’s often manufactured in Italy. Aertex, www.aertex.com.Anderson & Sheppard,32 Old Burlington Street, London W1 (020-7734 1420; www.anderson-sheppard.co.uk).
An object I would never part with is a battered old bridle-leather courier bag by Matt Fothergill. I bought it in 1995, and you could say it was the start of my move into shoe-making. It symbolises my love of leather. Florida Villa, Castle Street, Clun, Shropshire SY7 8JU (01588-640 908; www.mattfothergill.com).
The site that inspires me is the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, because it’s a combination of east and west in the most physical form. It also incorporates some of the most important Christian iconography. Sultanahmet Fatih, Istanbul 34400 (+90212-522 1750; www.ayasofyamuzesi.gov.tr).
An indulgence I would never forego is a glass of wine with lunch – any wine of the region that I’m in.
The last items of clothing I added to my wardrobe were some fine-wool jumpers by John Smedley, in various colours. My wife always says, “Haven’t you got one of those already?” From £120; 24 Brook Street, London W1 (020-7495 2222; www.johnsmedley.com).
The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a plastic shark toy from a family holiday in Camogli on the Italian riviera. My sons (now six, three and seven months) loved playing with this “great white”, which now hangs on their bathroom wall as a memento.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Giorgio Morandi. There’s something very soothing about his studies of bottles and jars, a harmony that washes over you. The tone is incredibly gentle and simple, and reminds me of Bologna, where I used to live. Much as I like the works at Frieze, his work is a complete antidote to contemporary art.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Portobello Road in London. Not the smart Notting Hill end, but the northern W2/W10 area – I used to live there, and I miss it. You’ve got Lisboa Patisserie on Golborne Road, selling pastéis de nata [egg custard tarts]; Lucky Seven, where I go for a 5pm burger with my sons; Galicia, the tapas bar; Rough Trade for music; The Cow pub; and the market on Fridays. Everything’s easy and familiar. When I go back, it’s like having a holiday in my own city. The Cow, 89 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 (020-7221 0021; www.thecowlondon.co.uk). Galicia, 323 Portobello Road, London W10 (020-8969 3539). Lisboa Patisserie, 57 Golborne Road, London W10 (020-8968 5242). Lucky Seven, 127 Westbourne Park Road, London W2 (020-7727 6771; www.lucky7london.co.uk). Portobello Market, Portobello Road, London W10 (www.portobellomarket.org). Rough Trade, 130 Talbot Road, London W11 (020-7229 8541; www.roughtrade.com).
The last music I downloaded was George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord. I’ve got the CD but couldn’t be bothered to find it – I wanted the 99p hit of downloading it.
The people I rely on for personal grooming are… well, I’d go to any barber’s if it was convenient, but for my glasses I rely on Maison Bonnet in Paris. It’s a fourth-generation business and the service is wonderful. You get a 45-minute appointment just to be measured for your frames – mine are tortoiseshell – which are inscribed with your own name. It’s a real treat to go there. 5 Rue des Petits Champs, 75001 Paris (+331-4296 4635; www.maisonbonnet.com).
If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in isBologna. It’s a city with a great sense of itself – good-looking and well placed in the middle of Italy. The food quarter is amazing; I particularly like Tamburini, and Osteria del Sole, a crumbling old bar off the market place where you can eat everything you’ve just bought, like a picnic, accompanied by a glass of prosecco – anything else is rather frowned upon. There’s also a wonderful hotel, the Corona d’Oro, near the two medieval towers, as well as Tassinari for shoes, and the cosy Trattoria Fantoni. Hotel Corona d’Oro, Via Oberdan 12, 40126 Bologna (+39051-7457 611; www.hco.it). Tamburini, Via Caprarie 1, 40124 Bologna (+39051-234 726; www.tamburini.com). Osteria del Sole, Vicolo Ranocchi 1/d, 40124 Bologna (+39347-968 0171). Tassinari, Via San Felice 55, 40122 Bologna (+39051-557 006; www.tassinaricalzature.it). Trattoria Fantoni, Via del Pratello 11, 40122 Bologna (+39051-236 358).
If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be... you should have asked me that 15 years ago, when I was working in advertising! I’m already on my second career. But if I had to change again, I would be a furniture-maker or a stained-glass-window-maker – a craft that’s time-honoured but contemporary.