Oona Bannon started her career as a TV producer and researcher working for various production companies. She then spent six years in the design industry, becoming an account manager at The Nest, where she met her now-husband and business partner Russell Pinch. Russell had worked as Sir Terence Conran's design assistant, and in 1995 he became a Senior Product Designer for the Conran Group. He was responsible for developing a diverse range of products for the Conran shops and restaurants. After five years with Conran, Russell co-founded the branding agency The Nest. Feeling the need to return to his furniture roots, they started Pinch In 2004.
Like many startups, it began its journey in a room of their home in Brixton. They looked to start a portfolio of furniture that would have the timeless elegance of furniture of the past; pieces that would be treasured and treated as modern-day heirlooms, and ones that could be handed down to the next generation. There is no room for fast furniture around these two. They design every piece with a look to the future, not wanting to be too heavily influenced by the particular moment or consumer trends, and always with a respect for resources.
As Oona eloquently puts it in the 'The Slow Revolution' podcast: 'furniture takes a lot from the world in different ways, and we believe it doesn't make sense to buy table after table or sofa after sofa. You don't need to have a quick turn over of these pieces in your life. So when you buy them, and certainly when you design them, you should make them well so that they can stand the test of time. So there is a responsibility to bring pieces in the world that can endure and be handed down'. With this at the core of their design ethos, there is no wonder they have found a bevvy of craftspeople (85% of whom are based in the UK) to partner with. From milliners to sculptures, Russell and Oona are always on the hunt for the person who they can collaborate with to make their designs come to life.
Since starting in 2004, they have won a host of awards and made their mark on the Pimlico Road with their flagship shop. Every time I enter it is hard not to exhale at the place's serenity, configuration, and pure beauty. In their sixteen years they have become one of 'The' British furniture brands, making this little island a more beautiful place to live. A huge thank you to Oona for taking part; I am incredibly grateful.
Turning 30 in 2003. There is always a build up to a decade change birthday, but that day was also the day Russell asked me to marry him, or maybe I suggested he ask me to marry him. I definitely suggested he not get down on one knee when he was partially down on one knee. A Mr Bean moment that still makes me laugh. It was at the River Cafe. Squid and betrothal, all the good things. Its a crazy thing to decide to do. We drank too much wine and came home and wrote a diary about it because we were so freaked out about the enormity of our decision but then the world still turned normal, and the cabbie talked football all the way home.
Favourite Tube Line?
Living in Brixton its the zippy Victoria line of course. Guaranteed a seat into town. How damn civilised.
Gutted - it was Rochelle Canteen at the ICA because it was so nuts to eat delicious, generous and genuine food with a view up the skylight to Palladian wonder, but that closed during the hard times. A real shame because it was so great to stroll through St James's, catch an exhibition, buy books and eat their really delicious, unpretentious but totally cool food, with a well priced wine list to travel through. I love casual, neighbourhood joints done really well, so I am a fan of Naughty Piglets in Brixton. But if it's a flashy celebration in London that would be J Sheekey please. I also just got back from Panama City where I had frequent visits to Fonda Lo Que Hay where their yuca and tuna carpaccio tostada was quite likely the most delicious thing I ever ate.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Of course. And premonitions. I have experience of both. It would be illogical to think its just us.
Best Moment in your career so far?
Getting the keys to our first shop in The Pimlico Road in 2017. That wasnt the plan, we were just looking... but the sun streamed in and the vibes are good times on the Pimlico Road so we jumped straight in. I remember moving bits in the weekend before we opened, free wheeling our daughters down the road on Eames chairs that were destined for the basement office. Having a shop is a huge undertaking, and we are definitely on the journey getting it right, but it feels a privilege, and a rarity, and we are committed to making sure we are proprietors so customers can talk face to face and also feel the furniture.
Got any good advice? Who gave it to you?
'You're a long time dead', said Russell's maternal grandmother, Elsie. So true, we are all just passing through so you have to do as much,as best as you can before the lights go out. But also, for balance - and inspired by my dad, 'always stop for coffee'. He reminds me to stop and enjoy because, you know, we can all work a bit too much.
A film you can watch again and again without getting bored?
Staying awake long enough to watch a film once through is my struggle. I really really love sleep, it feels so good. Thank god for a streaming series. Schitt's Creek has a special place in my heart, when the characters become so endeared they are like family. Kind regards and warmest wishes was a family catchphrase for a good while. Actually I did manage to stay awake to Call Me By Your Name. So so beautiful and nostalgic.
Do you have a favourite poem?
Coleridges' Kubla Khan. I had to learn it at school but only the first stanza stuck. Still, I really like that first stanza.
Top UK Destination?
Hotel Endsleigh. The drama of that arrival. Those gardens. Old skool service.
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Incredibly hot mind and incredibly hot ability to be, look and talk smart.
Apart from Russell Pinch?...... Paul Newman/ Butch Cassidy.
A song that always makes you tap your foot?
Friday night kitchen disco often warms up to Ike and Tina Turner 'Crazy 'bout you baby'. Less tapping of my foot, more a full on bop.