Giles Kime offers words of sage advice for those inspired by their summer jaunts to bring a touch of continental dash back home.
For decades, the aesthetic Holy Grail for anyone creating an outdoor space has been the French Riviera (polite parasols, towelling-covered loungers, a table for the Badoit and Joanna Trollope) or, more recently, Ibiza, which has introduced a clubbier vibe (giant bean bags, white upholstery and music systems broadcasting soulful anthems).
More alarmingly, you occasionally see the homage to mid-20th-century Miami (bars, fake flamingos and even faker palms) that can look a little incongruous on a rainy August afternoon in Burnham Market.
The problem isn’t only one of cultural appropriation, but also a degree of self-delusion; there are few places in Britain where you could wake from a Sancerre-induced stupor and think that you’ve been magically transported to Sainte-Maxime, Santa Eulalia or Palm Beach. Salcombe in August might be lovely, but it just doesn’t have the same number of mesmerising sunsets and the sea never really strays north of 15˚.
When we’re at home, we need to acknowledge that we’re on a island in the north Atlantic and it’s high time we created a look that’s all our own.
There are encouraging signs that this is happening. In their 12th-century grain store near Penzance in Cornwall, Charlie and Katy Napier of Sunbeam Jackie hand-make parasols and daybeds (as you’ll see at the top of this page) from a mix of new and classic fabrics, some of which date back to the 1920s.
Increasingly, they can be spotted lending a charming, distinctively English flavour to gardens as well as the terraces of hotels and private members’ clubs and music festivals. The look and execution couldn’t be further from the tailored feel that dominates the Mediterannean. Added to that, each piece the couple makes is a complete one-off.
Like so many of the most successful designers, they’re also masters of collaboration and have worked with the hipsterish interiors brand House of Hackney, plus, next month, they’ll be unveiling a new chandelier collection they’ve created for the brilliant Liberty in London.
Sunbeam Jackie — www.sunbeamjackie.com
Guest rooms that take their inhabitants closer to Nature? Giles Kime explores.
An Arts-and-Crafts-inspired house in Berkshire demonstrates the possibilities of a new build, says Giles Kime.
Giles Kime admires a pared-down space capped off with an antique marble bath that sets the tone.
Modern bathroom design has thrown the baby out with the bathwater, says Giles Kime – but the classical fittings we used