My treat is an evening weekly pottery class with three of my best friends. We’ve been going for about three years and it’s fair to say we’re all a little bit obsessed. The process of throwing is incredibly therapeutic; it’s a real creative outlet and it forces me to slow down. If your hands are covered in clay you can’t check your phone, which is great for switching off at the end of a busy day. I could share a list as long as my arm of my favourite ceramicists but I’ll keep it to three absolute favourites. I am a huge admirer of the work of Naomi Bikis. Her work combines wheel throwing and hand building to create altered pieces in strong sculptural shapes. In an ideal world I’d have a whole shelf full of her pieces, but I’m trying to be good and collect one thing at a time. I also love the work of Parisian ceramicist Marion Graux; the muted colours of all of her glazes are just perfect. Be Still Ceramics is another favourite. All the pieces are hand built by potter and photographer Sarah Maingot in her garden studio. Her Instagram is full of dreamy pots and pictures of her beautiful studio-come-cabin, which is built entirely of reclaimed materials.
When I was at university I lived in Venice for a term and visited the island of Murano. Renowned for its long tradition of glassmaking, it made a real impression on me. Perhaps it’s a bit of nostalgia but I’ve had a soft spot for Venetain glassware ever since. I love the Rosanna Murano glass collection by design duo Campbell-Rey with its super fine, geometric shape and discreet colour trim. I also collect vintage glassware and every year when I go to France I always buy a wine glass or two from a brocante or antique shop to add to my collection. I like to have them all a bit mismatched, it’s much more fun than having a matching set. If you like the vintage look but don’t want to buy antique, check out the ‘lens’ tumblers by The Vintage List.
There aren’t many antiques I don’t love and collecting them is a passion. I will happily get up in the middle of the night to be first through the gate at an antique market. Spending the day at Ardingly or the morning at Sunbury is one of my absolute favourite things to do. For smarter investment pieces in London, I head to The Peanut Vendor or Beton Brut who both have wonderfully curated collections of early to late 20th-century pieces. I also regularly pop in to Howe on the Pimlico road; it’s a treasure trove of eclectic pieces. They had a friends and family warehouse sale recently, and there was a frenzy of messages among the industry about being first through the door.
My latest find is the work of Livia Cetti at The Green Vase in New York. She creates handmade paper flowers out of crepe and tissue paper that are so realistic. I’d seen her geraniums in John Derian’s shop in New York and always wanted to buy one, but it was when I saw the huge display in the Astier de Villate store in Paris that the real love affair started. It’s completely breathtaking.
That’s an easy one to answer – Victoria Davar of Maison Artefact always has the best ones. She sells a mixture of Swedish and French antiques and has the most amazing selection of foxed mercury glass mirrors from really tiny, to huge ‘cover the whole wall’ showstoppers. You can visit her Lillie Road shop or visit her at Battersea Antiques Fair. I like to hang collections of small mirrors and treat them like art, not just above a sink or dressing table.
As much as I love the look of slightly distressed pieces, when it comes to lighting, I prefer buying mid-century or modern. I often go for black to add some contrast, too. For our kitchen, I chose a semi pendant by Danish brand Gubi to hang over the dining table. I really like the sharpness it brings to the space. The other black light I love is by interior designer Rose Uniacke. It’s a simple handspun brass wall light. There’s an understated elegance I’m very partial to, it’s a good price and has a classic shape that will never date. Last on my list for something a bit more playful would be a Cappello lamp by artist and designer Oscar Piccolo.
Shepherds in Pimlico is one of my favourite stores in London. It’s a book binder that also sells stationery and fine papers. The decorative papers are the big draw for me, and they have the most amazing selection from Japanese Chiyogami, Florentine, Nepalese to marbled and hand printed designs. I can spend hours looking at paper clips, envelopes and special book binding threads.
Rugs & Textiles
Larusi is a complete treasure trove of textiles, linens and rugs. Owner Souad Larusi has such a wonderful eye for interesting colour palettes and only sources pieces of the highest quality. I have learnt so much from her about what makes a good rug. She has everything from napkins to huge antique Berber rugs. My favourite though is her bed linen which is so soft, you really have to touch it to believe it. Kirsten Hecktermann is another brilliant person for textiles; I collect her hand-dyed velvet cushions. She also organises the Hand sale in London twice a year for a group of selected makers to sell their work.
This is such a huge category and so personal. I like to buy art that prompts a feeling, that ultimately makes me happy. It may be the colour palette, the composition or expressive, loose brush strokes – anything that moves me. I love the work of artist Caroline Popham – both her cut paper collages and her oil paintings. I’ve also recently discovered the quiet and tender work of Sharon Alexie. Her colour palettes are just perfect. Equally, I’m a real sucker for an antique oil paintings. At markets, remember to rifle through loose sketches in the folders of work. It’s a really inexpensive way of buying art. You can then get them framed and turn them into something special.
These are the pieces that can bring a composition together when you are styling. Next on my prop list to buy is a pair of mid-century cast iron American jacks through Etsy. Anything goes really, rolls of offcut vintage rattan, a marble orb, vintage wooden school shapes. I’ve even ordered a ball of tumbleweed in the past! For something slightly more conventional I love the hanging mobiles from Studio Volta.
One of the things people comment about the most on my Instagram are the tiles in our bathroom. They are called zellige and are handmade from natural clay in the region of Fez in Morocco. Each one is unique, with a slightly irregular finish, and they come in an incredible selection of coloured glazes. I bought them from the Mosaic Factory on Columbia Road in London (they have showrooms in lots of the main European cities). I love how the light reflects at different times of the day: they really are the gift that keeps on giving. If we had a house with more bathrooms, each one would be tiled in a muted colour of zellige.
In New York, I love Paula Rubinstein (21 Bond St) & ABC Carpet and Home. In Copenhagen, Studio Olivier Gustav is a real favourite. As for Paris, be sure to visit Emery et Cie, Astier de Villate and Merci. Finally, in Tokyo, I love Fog Linen Work.
Read more from Twig at Minford.co.uk