Tête-a-Tat with Terry Ellis

Updated: Jul 10


Unlike the T-A-T victims of the past, I have never met Terry Ellis; I have only ever furiously liked and commented on his Instagram. In fact, his is one of my best-loved accounts, perhaps because (as 'Put This On' recently identified) it adheres to the basic criteria that are essential to an interesting Instagram feed: 

  1. 1) Use original, in-phone photos vs. perfectly lit DSLR shots transferred to Instagram.

  2. 2) Update it a lot.

  3. 3) Show me stuff I don't see everywhere else (i.e. not latte art and sunsets).

Terry continuously posts pictures of his travels, his clothing and his terrific interiors. It was the last of these that originally stole my heart, but all three have kept me keenly interested and have inspired Tat greatly - something which I hope Terry does not take as too much of a slight as his collecting and style is far more discerning than the Tat aesthetic. Indeed, in the summer of last year the auction house Phillips offered up eight pieces of 'exemplary design' from the collection of Terry Ellis and Keiko Kitamura, including a Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret and Le Corbusier LC3 Sofa & Børge Mogensen 'Hunting' chair, model no. 2229, designed in 1950.


Ellis has been working at the iconic Japenese department store, Beams, since the late 80s as a buyer. In 2003, they launched the label fennica (which Ellis alongside Keiko Kitamura is a Director) 'a bridge between design and craft...a style that combines traditional Japanese handicraft with new and old designs collected from Northern Europe'. Sadly one is only able to buy these pieces in Japan; yet another reason to visit. Anyway, as with everyone, I have asked Ellis a selection of questions that have nothing to do with all those interesting things that I have just touched on.




Favourite piece of furniture? 

George Nakashima Conoid Bench



Favourite Day?

Of the week, Saturday -for record shop browsing in Brixton or Shinjuku



Favourite Piece of Clothing? 

Right now it’s the fennica Jamaica tourist tee shirt it is based on one I bought on the island in the 1980s but the design dates from the 70s.



What would your autobiography be called?

Any Chance of another Go?



Do you believe in Karma and have you got a nice story of just deserts?

No. The cheats and baddies usually get away with it. They wear you down. It’s a shame


Great Film Suggestions?

Rockers and Babylon for great soundtracks and fashion inspo.


What is often your last thought before going to sleep?

I ought to turn off the tv


Favourite Smell?

Okinawan awamori ( the local Island spirit of Okinawa) made from fermented and distilled Thai rice. The same process using Japanese rice produces sake. It can be pungent or flowery or subtle depending on the location of distillery, age, alcohol content. 


Best Restaurant?

Art Masashiya Ramen in Shibuya. My old boss left the fashion industry to personally make the best ramen in Tokyo 6 days a week here.


What kept you sane through lockdown?

Music, Netflix, awamori


Best Tube Stop/ Line?

Brixton, Victoria Line


Any books you can read again and again?

Beyond a Boundary by CLR James, Ancestral Voices by James Lees-Milne. Both good writers, but one I wish I had met, the other I would avoid like the plague.