Peter Osborne talks personal taste: Part One

Peter Osborne is a co-founder of the quintessentially English textiles and wallpaper company Osborne & Little.

Peter Osborne at his west London home.
Peter Osborne at his west London home. | Image: Matt Munro

My personal style signifier is the well-tried formula of a navy-blue, off-the-peg suit from Richard James, a cream cotton shirt from Turnbull & Asser, and a tie from Charvet. Not very exciting I’m afraid, but I have a very poor sense of stylish dressing, so if I have to look smart I revert to this look. Charvet, 28 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris (+331-4260 3070; www.charvet.com). Richard James, 29 Savile Row, London W1 (020-7434 0605; www.richardjames.co.uk). Turnbull & Asser, 71-72 Jermyn Street, London SW1 (020-7808 3000; www.turnbullandasser.com).

The last thing I bought and loved was a Tahiti lamp by Ettore Sottsass in a sale at Christie’s. I increasingly appreciate the colourful quirkiness of Memphis style, which was given a boost in the V&A’s recent Postmodernism exhibition. But not everyone likes it – my son, Theo, said it’s the ugliest thing I have ever brought home. Christie’s, 85 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 (020-7930 6074; www.christies.com). V&A, Cromwell Road, London SW7 (020-7942 2000; www.vam.ac.uk).

The Book of Naturalists by William Beebe.
The Book of Naturalists by William Beebe.

The thing I’m eyeing next is a wonderful Fornasetti Architettura Trumeau desk at Themes & Variations. From £19,000; 231 Westbourne Grove, London W11 (020-7727 5531; www.themesandvariations.com).

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Mustique. I was lent a villa by an Italian friend and we went with some of our family in January. We thought it was paradise, more for what it lacked than what it had – no cars, one hotel, a couple of bars, empty beaches.

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A recent “find” is a new local eaterie called Granger & Co, opened by Australian chef Bill Granger. It’s great for all-day casual eating and has a sort of holiday feel to it – the only drawback is you can’t book. 75 Westbourne Grove, London W11 (020-7229 9111; www.grangerandco.com).

The last music I downloaded was a BBC Radio 3 programme about Wagner’s Ring cycle, which explained the principal leitmotifs. I’m going to see it at The Metropolitan in New York at the end of April. Although I’ve seen about a dozen Rings, I still have masses to learn – and the more you know about the leitmotifs, the more you enjoy the music. www.radio3.co.uk. The Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, New York 10023 (+1212-362 6000; www.metoperafamily.org).

A beach on Mustique.
A beach on Mustique. | Image: Getty Images

The books on my bedside table include Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig, which I’ve just finished and am recommending to everyone. It’s a harrowing tale about a young Austrian cavalry officer just before the outbreak of war in 1914. Now, I’m on The Book of Naturalists, published in 1944 by American zoologist William Beebe. It’s a brilliant anthology on natural history, and you can skip from Alfred Wallace on mimicry to Maurice Maeterlinck on the complexity of beehives. Riveting.

In my fridge you’ll always find whatever my wife has put in there. This invariably includes Manchego and sweet-cured bacon from HG Walter, the butcher. 51 Palliser Road, London W14 (020-7385 6466; www.hgwalter.com).

Fornasetti Architettura Trumeau desk, from £19,000.
Fornasetti Architettura Trumeau desk, from £19,000.

The site that inspires me is Uluru, or Ayers Rock, in Australia, which would take some beating. In the realm of the man-made, the small church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venice is breathtaking.

The grooming staples I’m never without are bath oils blended by Dee Stanford. One called Crystal Fresh helps my asthma in the winter, and I use Rosemary, Lavender or Unwinder at other times. And lately, Kiehl’s Abyssine moisturiser with a high SPF factor, which my wife makes me wear regularly. Dee Stanford at Jo Hansford, 48 South Audley Street, London W1 (020-7495 7774). www.kiehls.com.

Tahiti lamp by Ettore Sottsass.
Tahiti lamp by Ettore Sottsass. | Image: Aldo Ballo, Guido Cegani, Peter Ogilvie

The best gift I’ve given recently was two magnums of Sassicaia, a 2004 and a 2005, to my Italian friend who lent me his Mustique villa. www.sassicaia.com.

And the best one I’ve received was a beautiful drawing of Big Ben by my eight-year-old granddaughter, Liberty.

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An indulgence I would never forego is my season ticket to Chelsea Football Club. It really would be agony. Mark you, it’s agony going to matches sometimes, too.

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