I have a few shops I make the pilgrimage to whenever I’m close. In Lisbon, hidden away on a cobbled street, Caza das Vellas Loreto is a seventh-generation candle maker, selling hand-dipped candles since 1789. It’s incredibly quaint, with floor-to-ceiling wood-panelled display cases to show off its jewel-tone candles. Your purchases are picked and wrapped for you, the way they used to it.
The best department store in the world for homeware is not strictly a department store. But I adore Fornasetti in Milan. Across three floors, you can immerse yourself in the world of artist-designer Piero Fornasetti who, encouraged by his great friend Gio Ponti, created an iconic brand that has defined the way so many of us now decorate our homes. The building, its contents and its glass staircase are a true homage to the designer and his son Barnaba – look out for the archive room with antique pieces for sale.
The coolest independent brands have real story and purpose. I’m fascinated by their heritage, especially when you are lucky to find a brand like fifth-generation Viennese brass maker Carl Auböck who still uses the original brass moulds, or Malaika, which in addition to its exquisitely embroidered linen has set up a social enterprise and learning centre for local women to learn a craft that has historically been a male trade.
The best destination for independent designers and makers is Murano. For example, NasonMoretti has an extensive and innovative glass archive going back to 1923. All the shapes and colours are protected by secret recipes of colour creation, and it remains the only studio in the world that can produce 22 different greens and eight blues. I particularly love the 1960s dual-purpose champagne glass – for some a flute and for others a coupe.
The under-the-radar name I’ve recently discovered is Antonis Cardew. Born into a family of French craftsmen, he produces hand-turned plates and bowls in small batches in his Paris atelier – he is always covered in sawdust and the smell of freshly cut timber is apparent. There’s also Barcelona-based Los Vasos de Agua Clara for hand-painted one-of-a-kind plates.
My perfect shopping day would need to include discovering a new maker or beautiful untapped product or technique that I’ve never seen before. When that happens, it’s the best feeling in the world. Part of what I love about my job is unearthing that talent.
The best vintage stores in the world are the Paris markets Clignancourt and Paul Bert. Wander around the different aesthetics, immerse yourself and discover those hidden treasures.
I was recently thrilled to discover some very rare antique Wedgwood ice cream pails from 1805-1815. For a real connoisseur, they are the ultimate luxury for the dining table and a dinner-party conversation starter. Inside, there are two internal compartments: one for ice-cream and the other for ice, a very precious commodity in the 1800s when it was shipped from the Alps by train to Paris. These are a real gem of British manufacturing history.
For a truly exquisite present, I love the gift of cartography in the form of one of Bellerby & Co’s hand-painted globes. Like in the early centuries of globemaking, when all globes were handmade, the Bellerby & Co globes are hand-painted, with immaculate detailing and intricacy. Quite the showstopper and the chicest way to plan your next trip.
The best interiors gift I’ve ever received is a chaise that belonged to my grandparents. It’s since been reimagined in a variety of different finishings and is the ultimate bohemian piece for its ornate design. It was always an anomaly in my grandparents’ home, which was heavily influenced by my grandfather’s European travel and penchant for Italian modernism. Now, the chaise sits perfectly in my sitting room, very fitting for a colourful and eclectic home.
The most expensive investment I have made for my home is my copper bath. It’s a real indulgence and where I go to unwind at the end of the day. I love the patina it has acquired over the last few years. I had understated the measurements versus the stairs and, in the end, it had to be craned in.
On my bed, I like Rose Uniacke’s cashmere blankets. They are the softest, thickest and most comforting, which aligns with Rose’s world-renowned eye for simplicity, comfort and fine materials. They are hand-dyed and loomed by artisans in Kathmandu in a palette of equally soft and rich colours, making getting out of bed very difficult indeed.
My glassware collection is somewhat extensive. You’ll find everything you need to enjoy the perfect cocktail. But there’s always room for some new additions and I love the contemporary take on Edo cut-glass from Japanese maker Hirota – perfect for a negroni or a generous serving of whisky. I’m also a fan of the cracked tumblers from Lobmeyr, which have an engraved crack juxtaposed against the perfection of the fine hand-blown glass – perhaps slightly alarming for any guest if they’re not concentrating!
For soft furnishings I like anything from The Elder Stateman. Giving you all the joy you need in its colour-rich palette, this soulful brand produces the finest cashmere across blankets and cushions. Every piece is artisan made; hand-loomed, dyed and then sundried in the brand’s Downtown LA factory. They are best piled high…
I have been thoroughly spoilt when it comes to bespoke furniture pieces. Blessed with an incredibly creative father who has designed and made furniture for a living, even as a child I could indulge my sometimes questionable and unrealistic concepts. Now I am very fortunate he has built me perfect storage solutions my endless finds.
I love to go to Sauce London for the rarest and most interesting table and floor lamps. They are keen explorers and sourcers of the unusual, focusing on mid-century aesthetics and craftsmanship.
If my house was burning down I’d save my original Quentin Blake. It’s a very kind gift from a mentor who bought it at auction when he first moved to London, marking a significant change in his life, and then kindly gifted it to me, 15 years on. It’s the kind of item that forms future heirlooms, making it priceless.
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