John Derian talks personal taste: Part Two

The découpage glassware designer rounds up his list of likes with Cary Grant, Niman Ranch bacon and the Greek island of Patmos

John Derian
John Derian | Image: Dorothy Hong

My style icons include American artist and photographer Jack Pierson – whether he’s in jeans and a T-shirt or a blazer, he wears everything with confidence. And Cary Grant, who was always debonair and wore his beautifully cut suits, jackets and hats with incredible flair. He was comfortable in his own skin and it showed.  

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a lightweight navy raincoat from Double RL. Travis Harrison, who works at the West Broadway branch, knows my style and points me in the right direction when pieces I might like come in. 381 West Broadway, New York, NY 10012 (+1212-625 3480;

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

A recent “find” is El Rey Coffee Bar & Luncheonette on New York’s Lower East Side. The super-fresh food is California-Mexico influenced and the chef offers new takes on classic dishes. I’ll have the excellent lost bread egg frittata with shaved-fennel salad and crushed avocado for breakfast and the marinated chorizo with orange zest and assorted salads for lunch. The place is tiny and there isn’t a huge amount of choice but it serves exactly the kind of delicious food I love. 100 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002 (+1212-260-3950;

The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are Jeff Chastain for regular haircuts because I have been going to him for so long and he knows exactly what to do, and my osteopath Monique Bureau. Her super-light touch – cranial manipulation, slight adjustments – just makes me feel better, healthier. Monique Bureau, +1212-860 6613. Parlor by Jeff Chastain, 29 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011 (+1347-204 7100;


The site that inspires me is the Beech Forest in Provincetown, Massachusetts. It’s a magical reserve full of sand dunes, ferns, beech and pine trees and wild wintergreen. There are also ponds that are full of lily pads in summer, and I watch the geese – often with their goslings – come and go throughout the seasons; in winter the ponds freeze over, making them perfect for skating.

Indulgences I would never forgo are excellent Niman Ranch uncured bacon, which is less an indulgence and more a necessity for a happy life that I associate with weekends at my home on Cape Cod, and having a good gommage at the hammam at the Beldi Country Club in Marrakech. Its version is very rigorous and I always leave feeling completely relaxed and restored. Beldi Country Club, KM6 Route du Barrage, BP 210, Marrakech 40000 (+2125-2438 3950;

Merci boutique, Paris
Merci boutique, Paris

If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is Paris, in the fifth arrondissement because it feels like a real neighbourhood, complete with vegetable markets. I’d explore the Luxembourg Garden and Jardin des Plantes; while I am not typically a fan of zoos, the one here is very special. I like Merci for its mix of vintage furniture and fashion from new and emerging talents, and the fact that it channels its profits into a fund providing education in Madagascar. And I love the communal feel and all kinds of weird meats at old-school bistro Chez Denise near Les Halles. Chez Denise, 5 Rue des Prouvaires (+331-4236 2182). Jardin des Plantes, 57 Rue Cuvier (+331-4079 5601; Luxembourg Garden,+331-4234 2362; Merci, 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais (+331-4277 0033;

The artists whose work I would collect if I could include Henri Matisse, for his use of colour and form; Gerhard Richter’s sculptural work; and Belgian artist Michel Frère’s impasto, abstract paintings. I own a few of his drawings and a sculpture but I would love to add to my collection.

Derian’s 19th-century ironstone fluted bowl
Derian’s 19th-century ironstone fluted bowl | Image: Dorothy Hong

In my fridge you’ll always find flat-leaf parsley for making pasta dishes; olives; various cheeses, including sheep’s-milk feta and Parmesan, from Eataly or Il Buco Alimentari; and Scu Dò Prosecco and some sort of rosé in case I find myself entertaining. I don’t eat at home much. Eataly, 200 Fifth Avenue (+1212-229 2560; Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, 53 Great Jones Street (+1212-837 2622;

An object I would never part with is a 19th-century ironstone wide-mouth fluted bowl from a tiny antiques shop in Cambridge that has long since closed. It isn’t the most precious or rare piece I own, but it speaks to me. It’s decorative, but I use it as much for serving pastas and salads as a sculptural centrepiece.

Cary Grant in Paris in 1956
Cary Grant in Paris in 1956 | Image: Getty Images

The grooming staples I’m never without are my Kiehl’s moisturiser with SPF30 and its leave-in hair conditioner. Both are basic everyday products but I like that they’re lightweight and odourless. Kiehl’s Damage Repairing Leave-In Treatment, £19 for 75ml, and Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF30, £17 for 75ml;  

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the Greek island of Patmos. It still feels very wild and I loved the rugged topography and slower pace of life. I also adored the Monastery of St John, which sits at the top of a hill and has a museum housing exquisite treasures like woodcarvings, relics and icons. And I’ll never forget the seventysomething-year-old women standing up to their necks in the ocean and just chatting there for hours at a time. The colour of the water is so beautiful in this part of the world.


The books on my bedside table are Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ, which offers a fascinating, often funny look at the digestive system and has definitely changed the way I eat, and psychological thriller The Girl on the Train by British author Paula Hawkins; my friend is currently working on the production design for the movie so I decided it was time to read it.

My favourite room in my house is the yellow living room in my home in Provincetown. I bought this 18th-century house with yellow walls and purple-painted wood floors and left them as they were. This room is particularly comfortable – with two sofas and a coffee table that’s great for playing cards, which I do to unwind at weekends – plus it has a lot of natural light and views out to the bay.

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a scientist, because I’m curious about the human body, animals and nature. I’m also very interested in the past, so archaeology appeals. Or I’d be a film producer – I have something of a movie obsession and enjoy watching French noir and blockbusters.

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