The pick of the Pimlico Road

In the 1960s, the Pimlico Road was colonised by haute bo­hemian deal­ers whose clients in­cluded aris­to­crats and rock stars. Now, al­most half a cen­tury later, a new gen­er­a­tion of shop­keep­ers is es­tab­lish­ing the road and its sur­round­ing area as one of Lon­don’

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Pimlico Road be­came a fash­ion­able des­ti­na­tion for off­beat, up­mar­ket an­tique deal­ers in the 1960s when the likes of Ge­of­frey Ben­ni­son— who would en­ter­tain a colour­ful mix of duchesses and dec­o­ra­tors in his the­atri­cal shop laden with gleam­ing Baroque mir­rors—and Christo­pher Gibbs, an in­vet­er­ate antiques dealer and col­lec­tor known for his ex­pen­sive but Bo­hemian taste. Anyone who was anyone would step in to browse.

In the next decade, Ross Hamil­ton, the Aus­tralian dealer and pro­tégé of David Hicks, opened his shop, fol­lowed by the quin­tes­sen­tial English dec­o­ra­tor Jane Churchill, who es­tab­lished her show­room in 1975 (where she re­mains to this day). How­ever, the for­tunes of the street went on to wax and wane.

David Lin­ley, who lived nearby dur­ing the 1980s, de­scribed it then as a ‘res­i­den­tial and re­tail back­wa­ter’. Some es­tab­lish­ments con­tin­ued to thrive—such as Ben­ni­son

Fab­rics, which sells fab­rics orig­i­nally dis­cov­ered and re­pro­duced by Ge­of­frey—and, dur­ing the past 20 years, oth­ers have moved in and helped to re-es­tab­lish the street as a go-to des­ti­na­tion for fine things. How­ever, most agree that the lat­est ten­ants are pre­cip­i­tat­ing a re­nais­sance in the area.

It was by chance that the di­rec­tors of the long-es­tab­lished dec­o­rat­ing firm Sibyl Cole­fax & John Fowler found out about the va­cancy of 89–91, Pimlico Road af­ter their lease at 39, Brook Street—an ad­dress that has been syn­ony­mous with coun­try-house in­te­rior de­sign since the 1940s—was com­ing to an end. ‘It was one of the ar­eas we had been look­ing at,’ says manag­ing di­rec­tor Wendy Ni­cholls. ‘We all know the area and have shopped here for years, of course. The large ground-floor show­rooms act in two ways: as a space for an­tique and con­tem­po­rary pieces and to show the very com­fort­able way in which we live.’

Another harbinger of good tid­ings for the road is the limelight-shy dealer-dec­o­ra­tor Robert Kime. Man­i­festly un­der­stated, his name rarely men­tioned with­out his work at High­grove and Clarence House in­cluded in the same breath, he has a plat­inum-level list of clients—but you would never know it. He opened his shop at 190, Ebury Street last De­cem­ber and, in do­ing so, it marked a re­turn to the area af­ter sev­eral years in Blooms­bury (30 years ago, he shared premises here with Piers von Westen­holz).

The new shop is an Aladdin’s cave of eclec­tic trea­sures sourced from far and wide, as well as his whole range of in­te­rior and home fur­nish­ings.

When an­tique dealer Will Fisher opened Jamb, more than 20 years ago, he ad­mits that he suf­fered from im­pos­tor syn­drome: ‘It was Chrissie [Christo­pher] Gibbs’s old place and they were enor­mous shoes to fill.’ The coun­try-house aes­thetic lies at the heart of his de­sign ethos and Will has a pas­sion for the un­usual and rar­efied.

Walk around the creak­ing floor­boards of the be­guil­ing show­room and you’ll come

across a va­ri­ety of eso­teric el­e­ments, such as an early-19th-cen­tury life­size wooden model of a horse (£48,000) and eye-catch­ing pieces of taxi­dermy.

Will is op­ti­mistic about the next chap­ter of Pimlico Road’s his­tory: ‘This is def­i­nitely a re­nais­sance and a lot of kin­dred spir­its are here now. It’s a mix of cool con­tem­po­rary and antiques,’ he says. ‘Jamb is at the tra­di­tional coun­try-house end. A bit lived in, like a pair of favourite wellies, but with a sparkle of glamour.’

Among dealer-de­signer Christo­pher Howe’s reg­u­lar cus­tomers at 93, Pimlico Road was the painter Lu­cian Freud, who liked to use the ‘es­o­ter­i­cally shabby chairs’ in his por­traits. Hav­ing started out as a fur­ni­ture re­storer, a pas­sion for col­lect­ing soon over­took his orig­i­nal premises on Bourne Street. The shop be­came well known for its charm­ing hap­haz­ard­ness.

In 1995, Mr Howe ex­panded into Pimlico Road, where he re­mains to­day. The ex­tra space al­lowed for larger antiques and an ex­pand­ing range of clas­sic and timeless hand­made fur­ni­ture, and light­ing, based on favourite his­tor­i­cal de­signs.

Some­thing of a con­trast is the con­tem­po­rary de­signer-dec­o­ra­tor Rose Uni­acke’s show­room at No 76. Known as the ‘Queen of Serene’, Rose started out as a spe­cial­ist fur­ni­ture re­storer who would also find pieces for her mother, an­tique dealer Hi­lary Bat­stone, to dis­play in her Pimlico shop. She opened her own dual-as­pect show­room in 2009, which shows off a care­fully cho­sen mix of antiques and 20th-cen­tury fur­ni­ture as well as new pieces, spar­ingly dis­played in a pared-back, el­e­gant way on un­treated wooden floors against clean, off-white walls.

A near neigh­bour is the be­spoke fur­ni­ture and ac­ces­sories store Lin­ley. Founded by Vis­count Lin­ley (now Lord Snow­don) in 1985, its cur­rent liv­ery of mus­tard-yel­low and deep-navy walls set off the ex­pertly crafted wares. If to­day’s Pimlico Road is a far cry from the one he first knew back in 1985, we have him to partly credit for its turn­around: as a mem­ber of the Pimlico Road As­so­ci­a­tion, he helped usher in the farmer’s mar­ket, cre­at­ing a more co­he­sive com­mu­nity spirit.

Another mem­ber of the as­so­ci­a­tion is Lulu Lyle of Soane. She and Christo­pher Hod­soll founded the firm, sell­ing beau­ti­fully made fur­ni­ture based on tra­di­tional, 20th­cen­tury and con­tem­po­rary de­signs ex­actly 20 years ago. Lulu has a pas­sion for Bri­tish man­u­fac­tur­ing, which has in­cluded buy­ing the last rat­tan work­shop in Eng­land; its exquisitely woven ta­bles and lamp­shades are avail­able to ad­mire in the shop.

A chance en­counter with a half-ti­betan boy whose fa­ther was a mas­ter weaver in Kathmandu in­spired Luke Ir­win to set up his epony­mous rug col­lec­tion in 2003. The light-filled show­room is piled high with➢

his de­signs, which range in in­spi­ra­tion from Swedish to Ber­ber. In a sim­i­lar vein is the show­room of Michael Reeves (who also dab­bles in rug de­sign­ing). Known for his pared-back in­te­ri­ors, which art­fully mix styles and pe­ri­ods, his show­room dis­plays a col­lec­tion of con­tem­po­rary fur­ni­ture, fab­rics, dec­o­ra­tive items and con­tem­po­rary art.

Col­lier Webb was formed in 2011 when caster Ge­off Col­lier and dealer-de­signer An­drew Webb joined forces; they spe­cialise in cre­at­ing high-qual­ity me­tal­work, light­ing and fur­ni­ture.

Join­ing them on the street is the re­cently opened show­room of con­tem­po­rary fur­ni­ture and light­ing de­signer Cox Lon­don. Es­tab­lished by sculp­tors Ni­cola and Christo­pher Cox, all the pieces on dis­play over the two-floor premises are made in Lon­don.

At 202, Ebury Street, over­look­ing the small square that hosts the weekly farmer’s mar­ket, is Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam, the dec­o­ra­tive antiques and fur­ni­ture store owned by in­te­rior de­signer Paolo Moschino. He’s heav­ily in­spired by 18thand 19th-cen­tury French and Swedish Gus­ta­vian pieces man­u­fac­tured in the UK and Italy.

An el­e­gant and con­tem­po­rary aes­thetic lies be­hind Ochre’s un­der­stated and lux­u­ri­ous light­ing and fur­ni­ture at No 57. ‘We feel a strong sense of in­tegrity, in­di­vid­u­al­ity and ex­clu­siv­ity un­der­ly­ing our de­signs,’ says Joanna Bibby. ‘These val­ues are what at­tracted us to the Pimlico Road.’

The dec­o­ra­tor Joanna Wood has a busy shopfront show­ing off her ex­ten­sive range of con­tem­po­rary and tra­di­tional in­te­ri­orde­sign ac­ces­sories sourced from small in­de­pen­dent sup­pli­ers around the world. The whole de­sign district is book­ended by two im­por­tant print gal­leries: Pullman Edi­tions, which spe­cialises in eye-catch­ing Art Deco posters by lead­ing artists, and Ram­say, a well-known des­ti­na­tion for its eclec­tic col­lec­tion of prints, both old and mod­ern.

Above: The Venn mir­ror by Soane. Right: David Lin­ley in his Pimlico show­room

Above: Jamb’s Pimlico show­room is home to its ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of antiques

Ochre pen­dants and ta­ble (left), Robert Kime’s Ebury Street shop (above) and blanc pineap­ple ta­ble lamp by Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam (right)

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