You're having a dinner party with three historical figures. Who's at the table?
Cecil Beaton, Lord Byron, Vita Sackville-West.
Which famous figures of the present would you include?
Wes Anderson—I would ask him where does he come up with those fantastical and unexpected color palettes? And Tilda Swinton, who has an ethereal magic about her.
An artist whose work you've always admired?
John Craxton. He draws figures like I do, and I like his angular, Cubist way about them.
An artwork you never tire of seeing?
David Hockney's drawings.
Six perfect sites or experiences in London?
Sir John Soane's Museum; Dennis Severs' House, an old silk weaver's home in Spitalfields; shopping on Lamb's Conduit Street, where architect Ben Pentreath and Bridie Hall have their shop; lunch at Noble Rot; an opera at the Coliseum or Royal Opera House; a walk along the Thames and dinner at The River Café.
A motto by which you live?
"Remember: be a palm tree and sway in the wind."
A saying or quip you often quote?
"It costs what it costs."
A place to which you haven't yet travelled but wish to?
American cowboy country, replete with swinging saloon doors and saddles.
A place to which you will return again and again?
Venice—it's the city that for me is most full of magic and romance.
Most cherished object?
My suitcase stuffed with photos, Polaroids, postcards, notes, magazine cuttings, and various trinkets.
Favorite building in the world?
Palazzo Doria-Pamphilj in Rome. Everything inside is golden; it's a jewel box.
Best historical home in the UK?
Wilton House. Cecil Beaton, Oliver Messel, Stephen Tennant, these Bright Young Things all used to hang out there. It has the most beautiful Palladian Bridge over the river in Wiltshire and a gorgeous sculpture collection.
The one color in your design palette you never use?
Grey, although I'm coming around to it in certain contexts...perhaps with maroon.
One that you always favor?
An interior designer who inspires you?
David Hicks. I love his crazy color schemes. He had a way of clashing colors— fuschia and tangerine and chocolate!
A living person you especially admire?
Your fantasy decorating project?
A small English country house hotel by the sea – something out of an Agatha Christie mystery—a white Regency villa with a lawn that tumbles down to the water, dogs running about, and one of those little honor bars.
Dinner party soundtrack you put on?
Upbeat Medieval and Renaissance music.
Something people don't know about you?
I'm super shy, a lone wolf.
Best "designed" natural site?
I've not been, but I really want to see Canada's Banff National Park.
Perfect object in the world?
Character in a novel with whom you identify?
James Sveck in Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You.
What always gets your creativity going?
Looking through my collection of old and rare books and magazines.
Soundtrack for sketching?
Enya. It's true and I shan't apologize! I love her synthesized string-orchestra sound and layered vocals. Her albums are super cinematic and they calm me right down.
Place to shop in London for menswear?
Blue17—a vintage shop near my studio on Holloway Road. I get all my natty knitwear there.
Favorite eyewear/spectacles brand?
Oliver Peoples, Bailey Nelson, Cutler and Gross.
Preferred art supply shop in the UK?
Cornelissen & Son in Bloomsbury.
Preferred medium to work in?
Chalk pastels and watercolour paints.
To work on the interior of a bar or nightclub. One in a snowy mountain town.
What does the word Milieu mean to you?
One's preferred surroundings and everything that makes them just so—from the furniture and lighting to the smells, little objects, and people.
INTERVIEW BY LUCY BAMMAN
This interview was featured in the Spring 2020 issue of MILIEU.