The Aesthete: Rose Uniacke talks more personal taste

The interior decorator, antiques dealer and furniture designer concludes her list of likes with a modernist maverick, her passion for Patagonia and a walk-in wonder-fridge

Rose Uniacke at home in London
Rose Uniacke at home in London | Image: Jake Curtis

My style icon is Eugenia Errázuriz, a pioneer of modernism. She was way ahead of her time, stripping grandiosity out of interiors at a time when that was unheard of – and in doing so, she elevated simplicity to an art form. She was also mentor to Jean-Michel Frank, who said he owed everything he did to her. Late in life, she became a lay nun, outfitted in a plain black habit designed by another minimalist, Coco Chanel

The beauty staple I’m never without is Sisley skincare – especially the All Day All Year cream, which I use just as instructed. I’ve also worn Santa Maria Novella’s Zagara cologne for a long time – I’ve no idea what’s in it, but I like it. All Day All Year cream, £257 for 50ml; sisley-paris.com. Zagara eau de cologne, £90 for 100ml; smnovella.com.

Modernist pioneer Eugenia Errázuriz, sketched by John Singer Sargent c1905
Modernist pioneer Eugenia Errázuriz, sketched by John Singer Sargent c1905 | Image: Alamy

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Francisco de Zurbarán, a largely self-taught 17th-century Spanish painter – there’s something monastic about his work. I would surround myself with his still-life paintings if I could.

An object I would never part with is a keyring my mother gave me on the day I opened my shop on Pimlico Road. It’s silver and has a slide with a small black stone that allows it to open. She had it made by the Italian designer Barbara Bertagnolli. barbara-bertagnolli.co.uk.

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The last meal that truly impressed me was in Modena. We happened to be driving through the city at lunchtime and turned up at Osteria Francescana – and, of course, we couldn’t get a table. The manager said that there was this little place nearby called Trattoria Bianca, and he led us there in his car. We were greeted by huge chunks of Parmesan and homemade cherry jam on the table, and it was followed by fantastic pasta. It was such a wonderful lunch and it happened in the most unexpected way. Osteria Francescana, Via Stella, 22, 41121 Modena (+39059-223 912; osteriafrancescana.it). Trattoria Bianca, 24 Via Giovanni Battista Spaccini, 41122 Modena (+39059-311 524; trattoriabianca.it).

An indulgence I would never forgo is my trips to my favourite art shop, Green & Stone on the King’s Road. It has every pen, pencil and paper you could want. I’ve been going ever since I moved to London in 1981 and it’s still such a treat. 259 King’s Rd, London SW3 (020-7352 0837; greenandstone.com).

Sisley All Day All Year cream, £257 for 50ml
Sisley All Day All Year cream, £257 for 50ml

The best souvenirs I’ve brought home include a Jenaer Glaswerk tea set that I discovered in a very full, old and dark antique shop when I was roaming the streets of Buenos Aires. There’s an early 1930s example by Wilhelm Wagenfeld in the Museum of Modern Art in New York; I’m not sure of the exact date of mine, though. It was fun to bring it back to Europe. Also, a small 1960s concertina book, Every Building on the Sunset Strip, by Ed Ruscha, which I bought from a vintage bookseller in LA this summer. It stretches to about 7.5m, showing a continuous photographic view of Sunset Boulevard – both sides of the street. jenaerglas-shop.de.

The best book I’ve read in the past year is My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. It’s such a beautiful story of the complexities of love, particularly between a mother and a daughter. I went on to read everything else she had written.

The keyring that Rose’s mother gave her on the day she opened her shop on Pimlico Road
The keyring that Rose’s mother gave her on the day she opened her shop on Pimlico Road | Image: Jake Curtis

The best gift I’ve given recently was an Arsenal season ticket that I bought for my husband. When he was opening it, I think he thought I was giving him a tour of the stadium or something and was trying to look pleased. When he realised what it was, he got such a shock. arsenal.com.

In my fridge, you’ll always find just about anything. My fridge is unusual – it’s a walk-in cold room. I built it into a tricky corner, so it’s triangular, and it’s so spacious that I can use the bottom shelf to store pots, pans and baking tins while still having room for food, mostly bought from the Pimlico Road farmers’ market on a Saturday. The only things you won’t find in there are coffee and eggs since somebody told me you shouldn’t keep them cold. lfm.org.uk/markets/pimlico-road.

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

The last music I downloaded was Doug Seegers’ Going Down to the River. I love the story of how he was discovered when he was homeless in Nashville by a Swedish country singer, who was making a documentary and who eventually helped him get the song recorded. It got his life going again. 

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is New York. I love the energy and the feeling of possibility, and my best friend lives there. There’s a little place called Bohemian on Great Jones Street with only a few seats – you can’s stay for long but the food is wonderful. I like the Neue Galerie, which has a very specialised collection of German and Austrian art. It stages great shows such as the Wiener Werkstätte, which finished earlier this year. I also really like the Bowery Hotel, which always feels welcoming and cosy. Bohemian, 57 Great Jones St, NY 10012 (reservations by referral only). Bowery Hotel, 335 Bowery, NY 10003 (1212-505 9100; theboweryhotel.com). Neue Gallerie, 1048 5th Ave, NY 10028 (+1212-994 9493; neuegalerie.org). 

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If I weren’t doing what I do, I can’t imagine another career. I really love what I do and I don’t want to change – my days are very varied and creative and fun.

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