Interiors Little Black Book: Penelope Chilvers
Interiors Little Black Book: Penelope Chilvers

Interiors Little Black Book: Penelope Chilvers

Famed footwear – and now homeware – designer Penelope Chilvers has creativity running through her veins. Having trained as a painter before moving to Barcelona, her little black book of textiles, vintage furniture and global design is well worth a look…
By Georgina Blaskey

If I could only buy homeware from one place it would be… Brownrigg in Tetbury. I often find myself browsing for homeware pieces on Collagerie, too – it’s a multi-brand platform we’ve collaborated with on a capsule collection.

The most interesting interiors shop is…. Station Mill Antiques in Chipping Norton. I never leave empty handed.

The coolest interiors shop I’ve found on my travels is… a place in Barcelona called Ultima Parada (The Last Stop). I love it for its natural materials like wood and ironware. 

The coolest independent interiors brand is… Carolina Irving & Daughters. We worked on a mothers-and-daughters photoshoot where we used Carolina’s printed linens as a backdrop.

The best destination for independent designers and makers is… Morocco – the land of all the best Kilim rugs. I use Kilims in all my interiors – on floors, over tables, and on the lawn or terrace in the summer. My favourite kind of shopping is searching for rugs in the souk. Marrakech is full of great interiors pieces, including ceramics, encaustic tiles and woven artwork. My friend, Vanessa Branson, has a hotel called El Fenn which has the best edit, too.

The coolest under-the-radar brand is …  By Alice. She has such a unique eye.

My perfect shopping day would include… Golborne Road for antiques and Portobello Market for vintage fashion. I really believe in buying less and buying better.

One of the best vintage stores in the world is… Luna Zorro Studio in Antigua Guatemala – it’s where I found lots of the inspiration for the prints and textiles in my collection of SS23 espadrilles.

My favourite vintage piece is… my leather sofa which we bought from Threadgold on Instagram. The day it turned up we were having a celebratory lunch for my daughter and son-in-law. We tried out the sofa for the first time to see if it was comfortable in the middle of the road! 

The best sustainable brand is… about to open in Clarendon Cross – Sophie Sharp’s new shop, Villa Bologna Pottery. Reviving old artisan techniques is my passion. Our bags, belts and doff collars are all made by extremely skilled people with increasingly rare knowledge, many of whom I’ve been working with for about 20 years. Sophie is doing the same, but with pottery.

For something really special I go to… a place in downtown Seville I’ve just been introduced to called Populart. It specialises in antique ceramics and embroideries.

Ultima Parada

The best interiors gift I’ve ever given someone else was… a set of deck chairs from The Stripes Company. I gave them to my daughter and her boyfriend for Christmas last year. They have the most amazing striped fabrics that you can buy by the metre. It’s one of my favourite brands. 

The best interiors gift I ever received was… a pair of miniature porcelain feet with gold strap sandals from Italy. It’s so elegant and because I make shoes myself, it really was the most thoughtful present.

The most recent item I bought for my home was… bed covers in Guatemala in the rayas de lengua weave, which I’m mad about right now. 

The most expensive investment I have made for my home was… covering our entire loft space in Common Room wallpaper, a company that commissions fine artists to design original wallpapers.

For tableware… we are launching a mini homeware collection today (27th April) comprising two sets of table linen sets called Penelope Rose. The print is a wild and natural design of roses in a Mediterranean blue and a vibrant fuchsia pink. In trying to unearth age-old techniques and dying crafts, I also discovered several Spanish artisans who work in earthenware and commissioned them to make a collection of hand painted pottery to complement the table linen.

For bedlinen… you can’t go wrong with The White Company. I like percale cotton as it’s cold to the touch and irons beautifully. 

For glassware… I like to collect vintage crystal, but for a quick fix, Ikea has great water glasses. For our daughter's Christmas wedding, we laid the table with a mix of blue and white willow pattern and we bought blue glasses to match. It was a small Covid wedding, which ended up being the best size (16 including a family ‘choir’).

For art I look around… The Arcadia Missa Gallery where my stepdaughter Rosie Hastings and her partner Hannah Quinlan are represented, alongside groundbreaking new London artists. They have a show coming to the Tate in September which is very exciting. 

For soft furnishings I like… to use surplus mattress ticking for upholstering. The craft of handmade mattress making is sadly a dying trade, but there remains an excessive amount of unused fabric that should still be put to good use.

Penelope Rose Tablecloth
Penelope Rose Tablecloth
Penelope Rose Tablecloth
Penelope Rose Tablecloth
The Dorp Hotel
The Dorp Hotel
By Alice
By Alice

For furniture I buy… vintage every time. I hate to buy new when there are so many old pieces out there looking for a home. When I was in Guatemala, I became quite emotional to see huge mahogany and teak trees cut down and shipped across the world to make fine brown furniture. Thankfully, antiques are finally coming back into favour. For our latest project, I vowed to only buy second hand. It’s not that hard if you make the commitment. 

For lighting I love to go to... Tinsmiths in Ledbury which has fantastic lighting. I love a touch of black in every room and recently bought charcoal black lanterns for our kitchen and our bathrooms. 

The item I regret not buying is… a huge rug for our bedroom in downtown Cape Town. We were staying at The Dorp Hotel where the interiors are so beautiful, and I wanted to bring back a little bit of that. 

If my house was burning down, I’d save… the entire contents of my studio. Leather cuttings, archives, vintage textiles, photos – it’s been my life’s work for 20 years.

Next on my shopping list is… the pine-scented Soho House candles. I fill my home with them – they have such a wonderful scent.

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