In introducing her book Celebrate: the Art of the Special Occasion, Lucia van der Post reveals how to turn bricks and mortar into a home. One of her tricks is to build as she goes-never furnish a house in one fell swoop. Like a canvas, the whole is built up, layer upon layer, so that each item has a story and holds a meaning or a memory. Here, renowned interior designers tell of their most exciting discoveries, reveal the meanings and stories those object carry with them and point the way for would-be treasure seekers.

Jane Churchill of Jane Churchill Interiors

Favourite objet trouvé An old Ikat with which I’ve upholstered two chairs -I’ve even designed a room around the
Country of origin Turkey
Occasion and location of discovery Istanbul, Easter 2010
Advice for treasure seekers Colours, forms and shapes may look wonderful in their native surroundings, but when back in British‘light’, they look garish and odd. Stick to something you can visualise back home

(020-7318 6000; www.janechurchill.com)

Katharine Pooley of Katharine Pooley London

Favourite objet trouvé A delicate tortoise-shell cigarette box
Country of origin Vietnam
Occasion and location of discovery I was up in Hanoi on business. The city is full of charming little antique shops filled with treasures that are hard to find in England these days
Advice for treasure seekers Asia is still the place for me for finding special treasures. The craftsmanship and creativity are amazing and the prices are still very reasonable compared with the rest of the world. The exchange rate helps!

(020-7584 3223; www.katharinepooley.com)

Laura Finch-Knightley of House Finch

Favourite objet trouvé Ceramic basins in a simple, oval shape with a waste hole in the centre in really beautiful bright colours. I could easily envisage them in a cloakroom, or bathroom back home
Country of origin Costa Rica
Occasion and location of discovery I was on a backpacking holiday with a friend, so decided to post them back to the UK.
Unfortunately, the post office couldn’t manage their size, so they’re still with a hotel owner somewhere in Costa Rica
Advice for treasure seekers Don’t buy anything you can’t carry or definitely send

(07523 530586; www.housefinch.co.uk)

Nina Campbell of Nina Campbell

Favourite objet trouvé My Moroccan lanterns
Country of origin Morocco
Occasion and location of discovery I go to Marrakech quite a lot, and whenever I do, I go to see Mr Blaoui’s Aladdin’s cave in the souk. I was looking for lanterns for my courtyard garden and I found some that weren’t wired up for electricity and made with pierced metal. There are six placed around the garden and one that hangs in the centre above a rose arbor. They are now wired up as garden candles and I can turn them all on from a switch inside the house. It gives the garden a lovely, secret, Arabic feel
Advice for treasure seekers Don’t get caught out by a tourist trap and be careful that what you buy when it looks perfect in its native setting doesn’t look like a gaudy souvenir when you get it home. Always go with someone who knows the area-it’s about buying from reliable vendors, making sure the object is well made and, if you’re posting it home, that it will arrive

(020-7225 1011; www.ninacampbell.com)

David Linley of Linley
Favourite objet trouvé French antique table linen (tablecloth and napkins)
Country of ]origin France
Occasion and location of discovery Islesur- la-Sorgue. We were amazed to find our own initials embroidered onto the pure white linen by complete coincidence. I can’t remember the name of the shop, but it was down an alleyway in the middle of the town, which itself is full of amazing antique shops and market stalls
Advice for treasure seekers Go there in the winter/early spring (February or March), and arrive early (7am) if you want to make real finds

(www.davidlinleyfurniture.com; 020-7730 7300)

Sue Jones, founding director of OKA

Favourite objet trouvé My antique Ikat dressing gown
Country of origin Turkey
Occasion and location of discovery I found it when I was on holiday several years ago. It now hangs in my cupboard and I still wear it often. The design inspired the development of the Ikat fabrics we have in our OKA collection
Advice for treasure seekers Don’t expect everything to be genuine and of great value -often, it’s not exactly what you’re told it is. However, I am much happier paying for something because I love it rather than for what it might be worth one day.

(01865 342300; www.okadirect.com)

David Hare of David Hare Designs

Favourite objet trouvé A pair of Syrian hammam shoes. Designed to keep the feet dry on the wet floors of a Turkish bath, they are delightfully carved in hardwood inlaid with bone and are kept in place by a peg gripped between the big and second toe. They now sit atop a Venetian bombe commode, flanking a Regency samovar converted into a lamp-an internationally eclectic mix
Country of origin Jordan
Occasion and location of discovery I found them in the ‘thieves’ bazaar’ in Amman, a foul- and fowl-smelling passage behind the poultry market in a Jordanian souk. I had no idea what they were, nor had the vendor, but something about them said ‘buy me’, which I did for a fiver. An object of beauty and a great conversation piece: guests are delighted if they guess their true purpose-not many do
Advice for treasure seekers Whenever I go in search of beautiful objects in far flung places, I am mindful of the advice of H. V. Morton: ‘Who of us has not been seduced by some glittering object in a souk only to find it loses all its charm when brought back to Cheltenham?’
Always bear in mind that colours will look different under our grey, northern light. Choose naturally pigmented rugs and textiles: they will fade beautifully, unlike their synthetic cousins. Simple terracotta urns and amphorae make very good lamps: make sure they are well wrapped for the flight home

(020-7792 2373; www.davidharedesigns.co.uk)

Janine Stone of Janine Stone

Favourite objet trouvé A statuette of Saint-Jean
Country of Origin France
Occasion and location of discovery I found this in the Marché Paul Bert in the Saint Ouen street market in Paris. I love wandering through the market and, on this occasion, the statuette happened to catch my eye. I’ve used it as a focal point in two of my houses-it’s carved from wood, very unusual and never fails to capture the imagination of visitors. The dealer couldn’t say where it was from exactly, but suspected it was from Turkey
Advice for treasure seekers My advice to travellers is to buy something that will be cherished for years to come. A well-chosen object not only reflects who you are, but is a wonderful reminder of the sights, smells and memories of a special journey

(020-7349 8888; www.janinestone.com)

Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam

Favourite objet trouvé A wooden box, covered in painted bone, now used as an ice bucket
Country of origin India
Occasion and location of discovery I found the box in a little shop in Jodphur. I bought it mainly because of its beautiful, faded pink/mauve colour
Advice for treasure seekers The best advice I can give somebody is to keep your eyes open at all times, try to focus on one object at a time and isolate it from what is around it. Don’t try to buy something ‘typical’ from the country where you are. Simply look for something you like-for example, finding a pretty French clock in Vietnam is perfect

(020-7730 8623; www.nicholashaslam. com)