The Aesthete: Jonathan Saunders talks personal taste

The designer is known for his vibrant, graphic prints, as seen in his work as newly appointed chief creative officer at Diane von Furstenberg – and for The Rug Company

Jonathan Saunders at home in New York
Jonathan Saunders at home in New York | Image: Mark C O’Flaherty

My personal style signifier is a black Sunspel T-shirt and pair of 501s. Being in a uniform means I have one less decision to make every day. And I’ve worn Reebok Classics since I was a teenager in Glasgow in the 1990s – I like that the design hasn’t changed. £75; www.levi.com. £59.95; www.reebok.co.uk. From £60; www.sunspel.com.

Hotel Condesa DF in Mexico City
Hotel Condesa DF in Mexico City | Image: Undine Prohl

The last thing I bought and loved was a 1972 wire Abitacolo sofa by the Italian designer Bruno Munari, from Béton Brut, a really cool furniture dealer in Hackney. It looks like a cross between a sofa and a shopping trolley, and is surprisingly comfortable. Unit 2, 30 Felstead Street, London E9 (020-7018 1890; www.betonbrut.co.uk).

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And the thing I’m eyeing next is a single standing pink bookshelf by Ettore Sottsass. There is a sense of optimism to his style of design and a twist of humour. I like that mix of serious and simple. Similar at 1stdibs.com.

Aesop Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste, £35 for 75ml
Aesop Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste, £35 for 75ml

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Mexico City. There is an amazing energy there. It is a little bedraggled and not too precious; the cafés have a youthful, gritty feel. I stayed at the Hotel Condesa DF, a 1928 building with interiors by India Mahdavi. +5255-5241 2600; www.condesadf.com.

Rid of Me by PJ Harvey
Rid of Me by PJ Harvey

The grooming staple I’m never without is Aesop Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste. Aesop creates simple products with a well-designed aesthetic. This makes my face feel scrubbed and clean. £35 for 75ml; www.aesop.com.

Interaction of Color by Josef Albers, £190
Interaction of Color by Josef Albers, £190

The last music I downloaded was an old PJ Harvey album, Rid of Me. It’s full of angst but empowering. She has such a powerful attitude and a strange, twisted glamour. www.pjharvey.net.

Waiting on Table by Allen Jones
Waiting on Table by Allen Jones | Image: (Allen Jones) Private Collection/Bridgeman Images. Artwork: Allen Jones Studio

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Josef Albers’ Interaction of Color, which was first published in 1963. It’s a really interesting book about colour, the emotional reaction to it and how colours interact. It speaks directly to what I do, what I love and what drives me. 

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An indulgence I would never forgo is my personal trainer, at the Equinox gym near where I live. I stopped going for six weeks because of work, but now I realise the importance and benefits of training regularly – not just for my body, but for my mind too. www.equinox.com.

The last meal that truly impressed me was at Sushi Azabu, an incredible restaurant in Tribeca. It’s in a basement, with just six or seven tables, no frills, no music; and the sushi is absolutely the freshest I have ever had. 428 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10013 (+1212-274 0428; www.sushi-azabu.com).

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Broadway Market in Hackney, London. I get my fix of books at Donlon, and Rocket Gallery sells work by artists such as Martin Parr and Peter Hedegaard, as well as vintage furniture. The butcher, Hill & Szrok, is great, and you can have dinner in its Cookshop at night. There’s a good fishmonger opposite, Fin and Flounder. Strut Archives is a great place for vintage Comme des Garçons or Yohji. Donlon Books, 75 Broadway Market, E8 (020-7684 5698; www.donlonbooks.com). Fin and Flounder, 71 Broadway Market, E8 (020-7998 4929; www.finandflounder.co.uk). Hill & Szrok, 60 Broadway Market, E8 (020-7254 8805; www.hillandszrok.co.uk). Rocket Gallery, 4-6 Sheep Lane, E8 (020-7254 8391; www.rocketgallery.com). Strut Archives, 2B Ada Street, E8 (020-7254 8121).

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Allen Jones. His work is provocative and shocking. He uses colour to tell a story, but he also communicates sexuality, femininity and a strong social message. I’d love to own one of his painted mannequins.

My favourite websites are Vice.com – the language is direct and unfussy; and the fashion blog Stylebubble.co.uk, because Susie Lau is so positive and eloquent.

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