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Home Comforts: Anya Hindmarch on the joy of a simple supper

The quality of one’s ingredients, says the accessories maven, makes all the difference when it comes to an egg dinner. What else can we glean from snooping round the designer’s digs?

Illustrations
Grace Helmer
Home Comforts: Anya Hindmarch on the joy of a simple supper

Is supermarket shopping ever chic? Back in 2007, Anya Hindmarch – the acclaimed designer known for her playful purses, handbags and backpacks – made it possible. Her ‘I’m Not A Plastic Bag’ tote, which retailed at just £5, became the UK’s must-have accessory – and kickstarted new conversations about single-use plastics and social responsibility in fashion. In the two years that followed, the number of plastic bags given away by Sainsbury’s fell by 58%.

Anya’s particular brand of activism has always been spiked by a healthy dose of humour (2020 saw the release of a follow-up piece: ‘I Am A Plastic Bag’, which was made using recycled PET bottles). The same is true of everything she produces, from a googly-eyed clutch to her sequinned totes inspired by Heinz baked beans, and her recent book, If In Doubt, Wash Your Hair, only served to underscore the fact. Witty and honest, the book is full of pithy advice and profound observations about creativity and confidence, drawing on Anya’s experiences as a super successful businesswoman and a mother of five.

Now that those children have nearly all grown up and flown the nest, Anya’s Georgian townhouse near the Thames in Westminster – which she shares with her husband and business partner, James Seymour, as well as the occasional fledging – is as stylish and well put together as one might imagine, filled with books and beautiful clothes. “I love where I live,” she says, “because it’s not trendy. It’s classic London, with high ceilings and history.” Take a vicarious snoop through her rooms by reading her Home Comforts below – just don’t expect to be given a slap-up supper dinner: Anya only makes eggs.

My most recent home improvement…
I have just re-laid a terrace in my courtyard garden and covered it with planted baskets from Alexander Hoyle, which were a present from a dear friend. I can’t confess to being green-fingered, but being surrounded by plants makes everything better and the space has become my new oasis. On the occasions some (and sometimes all) of the children are at home, we now hang out there with a glass of wine in the evening. It’s a real balm.

The latest addition to my wardrobe…
A vintage Ossie Clark kaftan. Vintage Ossie pieces are investments for me. I have collected a few over the years and I wear them again and again. I always have a good time when I’ve got Ossie on.

The most useful item in my kitchen…
Our Moka Express stove-top coffee maker is always in use. I am not much of a chef, but I do always start the day with a good cup of coffee. It reminds me of my early business days in Italy, when every meeting was interrupted for a short coffee.

What’s always in my fridge…
Cacklebean eggs. Eggs are the only thing I actually can cook and having good ones makes all the difference. Cackleberry Farm is a special place with rare-breed flocks that are entirely free range. Their eggs really do taste different. They’re what we use in the Anya Café on Pont Street in Knightsbridge, my take on the British cafés of yore.

The prize bottle in my drinks cabinet…
Tiny bottles of Campari Soda. When I was first starting my business in Florence, I used to sit in the bars there, people watching. I loved their ritual of drinking this red drink every Sunday. I had to ask what it was.

The bottles are little design icons too and will always have a place in my home.

Hanging on my walls…
A little painting of a chair by Freya Jones, the daughter of a friend. It’s new and I love it. It’s displayed alongside a sculpture of a roast chicken by my son Felix Seymour, who made it for my 50th birthday. He said roast chicken symbolises home. It makes me smile.

The knick-knacks on my mantelpiece…
It is an ever-changing collection of my favourite things. Currently: an Anya Hindmarch ‘Eyes’ candle, a Fornasetti vase and a Richard Saja tapestry. That’s there in limbo, as it needs framing.

The books on my shelf right now…
Why We Sleep
by Matthew Walker, Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart, Every Family Has a Story by Julia Samuel, When Time Stopped by Ariana Neumann, An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore, Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes by Harry Graham, which was passed down from my husband’s grandparents, and the hardback version of my own book.

The music on my stereo…
The playlist from our café. It’s a mix of French jazz from the 1950s and bossa nova – music to bring a smile to your face.

Growing in my garden…
It varies, of course, throughout the year. I love bluebells, snowdrops, daffodils, fritillaries, aliums, lilacs, forget-me-nots – nothing too structured, and a combination of colours, scents and success rates.

Hidden away in my cupboards…
Labelled boxes. I label everything – it’s bordering on an obsession. But I do live by the old adage of ‘a place for everything and everything in its place.’ It gives me a tiny sense of control. I have a system for everything and hate those drawers that are a collection of random things. I would probably label my children if I could.

On my to-do list…
So much! I want to build a little house in the garden to hide an outdoor kitchen and I am looking for some orange corduroy to upholster some chairs. I also need to mend my Meret Oppenheim bird-leg table as one of its feet is loose. So many work projects too – global partnerships for our ‘Universal’ bag (a new-gen reusable shopping tote), as well as thinking ahead to Christmas and developing our ‘Return to Nature’ range, our first fully compostable collection.

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