I am embarrassed to admit it, but I spend a lot of time on Instagram - far too much. I have a niggling feeling that I am wasting my thirties. But it has to be said sometimes it does come up trumps - it certainly did when I came across Oculus, founded by stylist Alfie di Trolio. I love the extraordinary, offbeat pieces he finds and sells. I knew instantly he would come up with some terrific suggestions, and I wasn't wrong. Take a look for yourself!
My very dear friend Grace Schofield makes jolly wobbly plates and serving dishes in tiny batches, painted with sloshy lines in colours that immediately remind me of all the ice creams and sorbets and granitas we’ve shared over the years.
“Babe can you make me a set of plates please, one for each sign?” was my vague brief for a special request, twelve-piece set of dessert plates based on the Zodiac. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.
I’m desperate to commission a box from Thomas Engelhart of @marble_paper_scissors. If you have a special trinket that needs to be housed, or even something more banal, I reckon he’s your man.
The closest I’ll get to Florence this year is a trip to Santa Maria Novella on Piccadilly for a packet of Carta d’Armenia. A bag of the best Pot pourri on the planet (yes, I’m into pot pourri), and a massive bottle of Aqua di Maggio that I like to store in the fridge for a silly facial spritz on hot afternoons. Better still, get yourself to Florence as soon as you can and visit the original shop where monks used to prepare all sorts of mad potions.
Nothing comes from the incredibly skilled hands and wild imagination of Elliot Barnes that I don’t absolutely adore. Every single lamp, chair, table and candle holder is a triumph.
I’ve been admiring these spectacular made-to-order candle holders by Louie Isaamann-Jones for a while. He uses bamboo from his parents garden and treats it with Shou Sugi Ban to achieve variations of colour from light natural bamboo to almost black. There are also options for metal or timber bases in standard or custom shapes. My inability to make a decision is the only thing holding me back.
Geraniums, ideally red
I strongly recommend an unruly gaggle of red and pink geraniums right next to your door for you to crash into every time you step outside. They smell wonderful. I have four pots of them which I tend to deadhead on my way out of the flat - it’s not uncommon for me to arrive at a job with a fistful of wilting geranium heads.
My geraniums were a gift from my lovely friend Amy, but I’d recommend The Nunhead Gardener for brilliant plants and pots, and proper advice from the cheery team. They stock indoor plants too, which are housed in a bonkers windowless tunnel lined with antique rugs that snakes underneath Nunhead station.
Sky Blue on Wrought Iron
I’m plotting some reupholstery for a pair of bargain eBay chairs - chunky wrought iron things with backs in the shape of stylised acanthus leaves. I think they’ll look fab with seats in crisp sky blue, maybe in leather or felted wool or possibly something crunchy and shiny.
Knives, carving forks and cutlery in boxwood, acacia or African blackwood at Momosan, forged and carved by Celso Núñez Ferreiro in Galicia. No knife has a more pleasing silhouette than these blunt-tipped beauties.
This stunner in waxed Bahia wood has been on my mind since spotting it years and years ago at the Boffi showroom in Milan. I fear I’ll never own it, and my searches for an alternative haven’t come up with the goods. If you want to splurge on the ceiling fan of my dreams, this one is for you!
Two very important things to do when you arrive in Marseille:
Immediately down a glass of rosé.
Head to Maison Empereur for strange baking trays that you’ll likely never use but absolutely have to own, incredible bed linens, hand tools that are a pleasure to look at and to use, woven straw bags in a dizzying number of different sizes, huge slabs of locally made soap, doll house furniture, spindly dinner candles, traditional Provençal clothing that doesn’t feel like fancy dress etc etc etc. You can even stay overnight in the charming apartment on the second floor.
The thing I most regret not buying on my last visit is their Sac à Tarte - the only really civilised way to transport a cake, pie, quiche or tart to a picnic.
Finish With A suggestion For A Perfect Sunday -
Start with 'Raw Dexter Beef with Smoked Bone Marrow and Crispy Shallots' by the spectacularly talented Jackson Boxer at Brunswick House. While you’re there it’s also fun to pop your head into Lassco for architectural salvage and huge swathes of heartbreakingly good antique silk curtains. Then take a stroll to the brilliant Battersea Boot car boot sale or Capital Car Boot in Pimlico.
Huge thank you to Alfie, that was a treasure trove of wonderful suggestions!
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