My design London: product designer Tord Boontje

His furniture and lighting can be found in museums all over the world, here Tord Boontje reveals his biggest luxuries and favourite objects and places.
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Furniture, lighting and product designer Tord Boontje is best known for his iconic bestselling metal Garland light for Habitat. He came to London from the Netherlands in 1992 to study at the Royal College of Art and never left. He now runs his own studio based in Shoreditch. His pieces can be found in museums all over the world and he has just designed the Bouquet Light.
Here he reveals why privacy is his biggest luxury, what his collection of books means to him and how much he would love a tea pavilion on stilts in his garden.
I live in a white three bedroom, modern, detached house set in the Victorian neighbourhood of Brockley with my wife [artist Emma Woffenden] and our daughter, Evie. The house is hidden behind walls facing onto a walled courtyard garden. We’ve lived here for two years now but have been in Brockley for five years.


Imaginative: ivy shadow wall light by Tord Boontje Studio

Our house is well lived-in and full of ideas; it contains objects I've made and collected which have a practical functionality, such as the Blossom Chandelier, Closer Sofa and 22nd Floor Table. I make furniture that suits the spaces and environments. We have a white living/working/kitchen space and a small den next to it, where I’ve built a full wall-covering bookcase from planks in a room I painted dark charcoal grey. I’ve collected objects made by RCA students, including Will Shannon’s small papier mache cabinet made from newspapers, branches and a suitcase and a light by Valerian Gagnaire, made from an old mirror-plated car window.
Privacy is the most important luxury. The courtyard itself is set back from the road and at the moment it is all tiles with potted plants but we are planning to change this and make some raised plant beds along the walls, so we can grow different climbing plants along the walls and over the façade of the house. In the centre of the courtyard we would like to plant a blossoming tree.


My favourite thing: a book of the show, the catalogue for Savage Beauty, the New York exhibition about Alexander McQueen 

My collection of books, for their stories and ideas. One of my favourites is Savage Beauty, the exhibition catalogue from the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. I worked with him, first as industrial designer on watches and sunglasses, later we made a crystal Christmas tree for the V&A and collaborated on an exhibition in Milan. We shared an interest in crafts, materials and the Victorian era. Another is At Home by Bill Bryson, in which Bryson describes the origins and history of everyday objects in the home, from the fork to furniture making and electric lighting.
A tea pavilion by Terunobu Fujimori. I love the fantasy character of his architecture, it reminds me of the film, Spirited Away by Studio Ghibli. Imagine the quality of life if you would really make time to enjoy and go to your special room to drink tea and converse. Admittedly it would probably be terribly expensive and slow to build.


If money was no object: a tea house by Terunobu Fujimori

Pen and paper. I can work anywhere with these basic tools and enjoy drawing freehand to develop ideas. Later on in the process I use computers to make renderings and technical drawings. I always draw in black. I like the way it looks and because it is very clear to see, I can take pictures of my drawings to email these to the studio when I travel. I prefer to use a black fine liner, the Pilot V7 is my favourite for drawing and writing. The ink flows very smoothly and they keep a very consistent line thickness. I use normal A4 paper at home and in the studio and when I travel I use my Moleskin notebooks, blank heavy pages in A5 size.


Essential kit: a Pilot V7 pen

I have a strong relation to Aram in Covent Garden. This is a very eclectic, four-storey store in Drury Lane that sells classics such as Vitra and Eileen Gray but also has a top floor gallery that exhibits a mix of some of London's most experimental design and classics. Recently they staged a retrospective exhibition of the work of my design hero, Shiro Kuramata (1934–1991). This was also the occasion of the launch of a beautiful monograph published on his work: two books in a multi-coloured case which I bought.
I'm interested in the work of Daniel Rybakken, a young Norwegian designer. He has designed several lamps, which are really about the effect of the light itself. Sometimes he works with daylight, sometimes artificial light; it is all very subtle, sensitive and playful.


Talented new designer: Ascent light by Daniel Rybakken

On a sunny morning, I love going to Greenwich Park with Rocky, our dog. In the spring it has a wonderful flower garden, there are very old chestnut trees, dating back to Henry VIII, twisted and gnarled and very inspiring. The old Royal Observatory has one of the best interiors in London: the Octagonal Room, which was purpose built for looking at the night sky with 20ft tall windows in each direction. The view from the top of the hill, looking north over the Thames towards the City of London, is an amazing spot for contemplating.

Bottega Prelibato for authentic Italian and just around the corner from my Shoreditch studio. It is a very small restaurant run by friendly and welcoming people. The interior is so authentic Italian, so is the food. I can always eat dishes like Spicy Spaghetti Allo Scoglio (spicy seafood spaghetti). On a rainy day I choose the homemade Gnocchi with tomatoes.


Authentic Italian: spaghetti allo scoglio at Bottega Prelibato in Shoreditch

I walk the dog round to Nunhead cemetery (a beautiful, overgrown Victorian wilderness in SE15) via the fish shop S.C. Soper for some fresh sardines, skate, mussels or crab. Then I come home and cook for the family, listening to music. At the moment it’s The XX, Ultraviolence, La Femme and Tales of Us - the wonderful last Goldfrapp album. We might go to the Barbican on a Sunday afternoon; recently I enjoyed the wonderful Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition with Evie. 
  • Tord Boontje and Emma Woffenden are working on an exhibition at Sotheby's in New Bond Street in January.

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