My design London: Paul Middlemiss

Where The Conran Shop's buying director finds inspiration.
Paul Middlemiss sitting on a Thinking Man's Chair in The Conran Shop
Paul Middlemiss sitting on a Thinking Man's Chair - the must-have outdoor chair for your garden - in The Conran Shop

WHERE I LIVE


St Margarets, squeezed between Richmond and Twickenham, in a classic mid-terrace Victorian house.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT IT


The area is a chilled-out family spot, practical for Heathrow — which is my second home — and close to wonderful parks, the Thames and interesting places such as Marble Hill House and Ham House.

WHAT MY HOME MEANS TO ME


It is absolutely my castle. I have two little girls, aged four and six, and a lovely wife, so it is a proper family home. My wife works from home, so it's also a working family home. It is gradually getting to where I want it to be, which is simply a beautiful functional place in which to live and work. I strongly believe that practicality comes first and then try and do it beautifully.

MOST COVETED DESIGN OBJECT


This is a hard one. I am a bit of a purist when it comes to design. I think I would have to plump for a Jasper Morrison product. I was blown away when he first launched the Thinking Man's Chair with Cappellini back in 1986 for an exhibition in Japan; he even hand-painted the dimensions on it.

Jasper Morrison is one of our unsung British heroes with impeccable taste and absolutely from the "less is more" stable. I can't think of many designers who have managed to create so many incredible chairs that have also been so successful. The Conran Shop is "re re-launching" the Thinking Man's Chair this spring as the must-have outdoor chair for your garden.

Tom Dixon shop at Portobello Dock
Tom Dixon at Portobello Dock is one of Middlemiss's favourite shops
If you could find me one of the original prototype chairs from 1986 I would be a happy thinking man.

BEST-KEPT SECRET SHOP FOR HOME DESIGN


If it is web-based, I would plump for Three Potato Four (threepotatofourshop.com). My favourite area of London to shop is around Portobello Dock as there's a cluster of great stores and good places to eat. My favourite shops are Tom Dixon (pictured), Retrouvius and Circus.

FAVOURITE COLOURS FOR HOME


I use white a huge amount as it tends to show off the purity of the furniture and other pieces. My whole ground floor is painted white, including the wooden Victorian floor. However, I am a huge believer in accent walls and always buy decent paints — there is just something about the translucency of colour that they can achieve.

One of my favourite accent colours is a Sanderson Graphite Black. It is a very dark grey but with a wonderful warmth that has a deep, 18th-century feel.

A similar approach is adopted in The Conran Shop.

The Riba restaurant in London
The Riba restaurant is a "hidden gem in London"

FAVOURITE PIECE OF HOME MEMORABILIA


I have been lucky to travel a huge amount for work so I have gathered quite a few trophies from overseas. My absolute pride will be my Sixties Eames fibreglass DAW chairs. I bought a wonderful pair at auction with the original wire bases and the first-generation Zenith shells with the rope edge. I have them with matching side chairs around a Saarinen oval table. They just give me so much pleasure. I have sat on them almost every day for 15 years and they just seem to get better and better.

MY FAVOURITE SPACE WHEN I WANT TO ESCAPE


The headquarters of the Royal British Institute of Architects (Riba) on Portland Place. It's a hidden gem in London. There is a great café, a brilliant restaurant with a fabulous outside garden, a great bookshop and amazing loos. When you spend a lot of time out and about working it is great to have a brilliant watering hole where you can log on to wifi and have a coffee and a loo break.

Lounge Lover in Shoreditch
Middlemiss meets friends at "bohemian bar" Lounge Lover in Shoreditch
They always have an interesting exhibition and you can usually whizz around it in half an hour and come out refreshed and uplifted.

And the two best things about it? Well, it's never too busy and the Thirties building designed by British architect George Grey Wornum is a gem.

BEST NIGHT OUT


My ideal night out is to meet friends at Lounge Lover (pictured) in Shoreditch, the most mad bohemian bar in London, and then to crawl round the corner to Terence Conran's Boundary restaurant.

Kempton antiques market
Kempton is Middlemiss's favourite market
I love descending into that basic brick stairwell and entering the cavern of a dining room. Terence has a brilliant way of playing on spaces and creating intimacy. Too many restaurants these days are noisy and don't pay enough attention to creating a good atmosphere.

THE BEST MARKET


Kempton, in Sunbury-on-Thames. I live 10 minutes away and try to visit every month.

The bigger vintage markets, like Ardingly and Newark antiques and collectors' fairs are losing their edge and are becoming a day out for too many daytrippers.

Leather bags by Laura Amstein
Laura Amstein's leather bags are "incredible"
Kempton (pictured) is still a trade market where dealers turn up with a van of surprises. But you need to be early and build a network — if you aren't there when the tailgates go up, you will miss out.

THE MOST INTERESTING NEW DESIGNER


I genuinely think we are seeing a real strength in British design that will just continue to grow.

We are working with several great newcomers but I predict a huge future for RCA graduate Laura Amstein. In her final year she developed this incredible leather bag/ accessory range (pictured).

We are working with her to produce it commercially for the shop. Laura's huge skill is that she is a contemporary designer/maker and her craft comes first.

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