Deyan Sudjic’s London

The founding editor of Blueprint has been director of London’s Design Museum since 2006. The museum’s exhibition Women, Fashion, Power opened on October 29

Deyan Sudjic on Tower Bridge, London
Deyan Sudjic on Tower Bridge, London | Image: Jude Edginton

“Saturday breakfast is eggs Benedict at The Engineer in Camden with Andrew Nahum. He is a senior curator at the Science Museum, so we’ll go through the rigours of a week’s museum-keeping together.

You can only really appreciate this city’s magnificent scale on foot, so I walk as much as possible. Regent’s Park, near my home in Camden, is a favourite spot for a Saturday-morning stroll. I love its mix of romantic landscape, classical stucco terraces and, on the southern perimeter, Denys Lasdun’s majestic Royal College of Physicians. Walking through the park is like being in the country, and then suddenly you come across the Marylebone Road and find London at its most urban.

I usually then head to the RIBA bookshop on Portland Place to browse through the architecture books, and move on to Marylebone High Street and Daunt Books, the definitive travel bookshop. I’ve been working on a biography of the Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass, and needed to swot up on Turin, where he grew up; Daunt was very helpful.

Around lunchtime I’ll jump in a taxi to The Dock Kitchen, Stevie Parle’s restaurant in Tom Dixon’s Wharf Building at Portobello Dock. I’ll sit in Tom’s interior, looking out over ancient cobbles and the Grand Union canal, and order flatbread and delicious lamb biryani, cooked in a clay pot.

Revived, I might set off east towards Brick Lane, one of the most energetic parts of the city. There’s a Huguenot chapel there that became a synagogue in the 19th century and is now a mosque, giving it a history that I think sums up the essence of London. I’ll make sure I pass the wonders of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s Christ Church Spitalfields. Architecture critic Ian Nairn described it as “doomed and grimly magnificent”. I love that. It is magnificent but no longer doomed, since it was saved from demolition and restored to its former glory.

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I don’t often buy clothes, but I will take myself to Margaret Howell on Wigmore Street. She sweetens the fashion mix with unexpected bits of quintessentially English design from the 1950s and 1960s. I also enjoy Paul Smith’s store, Westbourne House, a grand Kensington townhouse with quirky domestic interiors by Sophie Hicks. I am allergic to taking my trousers off in changing rooms, but this shop makes it bearable.

I like to spend the evening at the National Theatre, another of Lasdun’s buildings. I watched Simon Russell Beale in King Lear recently, which I’ve seen performed there three times over the years – each one terrifying in an entirely different way. The evening will end with a martini at The Delaunay.

Sunday is a day of relaxation. A guilty pleasure is going to the cinema at The Lounge at Whiteleys, where Rowley Leigh’s food is delivered to your seat. If Bruce Willis isn’t showing, I’ll go to look at the view of the river from Shad Thames. I watch the changing skyline of London with amazement and a little horror. No one expected Rafael Viñoly’s Walkie-Talkie building to do such damage, but if you look west, it looms out behind Tower Bridge and makes this historic London landmark look diminutive.

Then I’ll head to Sir John Soane’s Museum on Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The building was originally the home, library and office of the eponymous neoclassical architect, who poured his money into filling it with antiquities and works of art.

Sunday evenings are ideally spent at home with my friend Ron Arad. We play “Snatch”, which is Scrabble as a contact sport. There’s no board – you just grab other people’s letters to make words. Ron is very competitive, but sometimes he lets me win.”

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