The Dorset resident talks about his house, his inspiration and why there's no such thing as a finished home.
At home and work with the rug designer Luke Irwin
Where do you live and how long have you lived there?
I live in Dorset, which is about 190km west of London. We bought the house in 2005 and love the freedom from the frenetic pace in the city. It's the different sense of time that you get in the country that really offers the freedom. Coincidently, Tollard Royal happens to be a creative hub for a host of eminent designers including the cabinet maker James Winby, the master glass maker William Walker and the metal/lighting designer Frances Russell.
What made you choose the property?
It is a beautiful early 18th-century house with an understated glamour to it, complete with an elegant and established garden.
What does your home say about you?
A home always expresses the character of those who live in it, so mine is chaotic and colourful.
Is there anything you would change about it, or anything you wished you had done differently?
There is a staircase we should have moved when we moved in but postponed it and now it is impossible to do anything about it. But essentially, no.
What is the key to creating a happy home?
A home is constantly evolving. There is no such thing as a finished home. Happiness is found in many different ways but in the home it is about finding interesting new paintings, furniture, objects.
Which item would no home of yours be without?
One of my rugs. The importance of a rug is often greatly underestimated. A great rug can be the cornerstone or foundation on which all the disparate elements and personality within a room are bound together. But you cannot view a rug in isolation, you need to see it as part of the room and how it will fit with your home and how you live. Think carefully about what style you're going for without over doing a room. Go for colour and don't be frightened of using rich tones. You can always achieve an outstanding effect through design rather than colour.
Where do you like to shop for pieces for your home?
Everywhere. John Soane, architecturally inspired bespoke British furniture and lighting, stylishly assembled by the charismatic co-founder Lulu Lytle; William Yeoward for an eclectic collection of 18th- and 19th-century inspired crystal and furniture, and Gordon Watson for his original gallery of 20th-century fine design, to name a few.
Do you incorporate elements of your work into your home, or do you like to keep your domestic environment separate?
Because of the field I work in there is no way to separate the two. I instinctively look at colour, design and form, and therefore often when I'm not "working" I'm inspired, whether it's in history, nature, structures or shape.
What are you working on now?
Three new Autumn collections, including a first flush premium silk collection, a contemporary twist on the classic dhurrie flat weave and a new uber- luxurious Mongolian cashmere range. There are a number of private residential projects under development - but I never reveal my clients - and some global commercial projects.
What inspires your work?
Primarily nature but inspiration is found all around you. Crop circles, cave paintings, book spines and even parrots, geese and grass. I've used different materials in the same colour to bring my Fish design to life. Using a combination of silk and wool light is reflected differently, so the rug has a sense of movement about it and as you walk around them the fish seem to disappear and reappear. My Doves and Stripes rug came to me in a dream and, despite depicting freedom, there are no political connotations to it. I've recently been inspired by ancient ikats and created a completely modern interpretation of the traditional dhurrie. I love to create designs that draw people in.
Who are your favourite designers?
I have a very broad view of all design fields, from fashion to photography to fabric to furniture and interiors. At the moment I am gripped by two furniture designers called Willy Rizzo and Paul Evans.
How would you describe your interior style?
It is all about how you live. Your home really should not reflect your status as much as your personality - there is no point in having a Damien Hirst on the wall if you don't like his work. My style is entirely instinctive.
If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
New York. I love the city's buzz and energy in everything from design to food and culture.
How do you like to relax?
Being with wife and my children. I also love reading but with a wife and children I don't get the chance as often as I'd like to.
What is the best way to simply and instantly update a room?
One of my rugs. Because they're all bespoke, it's the one piece that you can have total control over, from design to colour, to size, to material, so it should not be an afterthought. You have to decide what statement you would like to make: do you want to create a focus in a room through bold design and colour? Or pull a room together through subtlety of design and colour? A strong rug immediately draws attention to the centre of the room and this is particularly valuable in a hall or on a landing, or in a room with little furniture.
Prices start from £300 (Dh1,800) per square metre. For more information call 020 7730 6070 or visit www.lukeirwin.com