Sunday, September 03, 2006

accidental interview #5
...a periodic presentation from hoping for happy accidents

london-based design and lifestyle author jane cumberbatch shows us how to live simply and beautifully. her inspiring style manuals help us resist consumption and remind us of the essential.

what inspires you?
the colours and textures of nature - from spring green leaves to rough and ridged bark - give me ideas for the fabrics and accessories that i like to work with and the way that using nature inside the interior, whether it's a simple vase of flowers or a collection of found things like birds nests or seed pods to help my home become a living breathing space. i love the simplicity of vernacular architecture - the moorish sugar cube houses in southern portugal where i'm restoring an old town house or the simple lines and spaces of georgian buildings - like the faded, wooden panelled early 18th century house that my husband and i restored in spitalfields east london. the simple style and approach to living adopted by the american shakers also reflects the less is more philosophy that i aim to live by. 60's design guru (still going strong!) and habitat originator terence conran has influenced me with his emphasis on design that is stylish and functional. artist howard hodgkin's glorious sweeps of colour and food writers like elizabeth david and nigel slater also feed my imagination and inspire me in the kitchen.

happiness is...
+ waking up to a still, warm, and clear-blue-sky morning
+ giving my three children, tom, georgie, gracie a hug
+ swimming in crystal water at the local tooting bec lido (the largest outdoor pool in europe and a watery oasis in an urban setting)

browsing often...
+ labour and wait in cheshire street, spitalfields (gorgeous functional and utilitarian kit for the home - from beautiful brooms, to enamelled saucepans)
+ brixton market- my nearest street market life with life, colour, reggae, women wrapped in gorgeous african prints, cheap herbs, sweet mangoes, and the best selection of fabulous coloured footless tights!
+ borough market - a short train ride away at london bridge, this foodie haven sells only the best organic meat, melt in your mouth cheeses, and fruit and veg from small suppliers that really taste of what they're supposed to

wishing for...
+ perfecting the pics that i am taking with my secondhand digital nikon and using them in my next book
+ a luscious crop of beans, beetroots and onions, that i'm nurturing in my little vegetable patch
+ to build a little eco house by the beach

listening to...
+ caesaria evora's haunting songs from her island home in the cape verde islands (the album miss perfumado is my favourite)
+ al green's soulful beat
+ the resident blackbird that's bursting with song in the apple tree at the bottom of my garden

escaping with...
+ ali smith's truly original way with words in the accidental
+ home is where the heart is - ilse crawford - ideas to make you think about the way we live
+ david hicks garden design - an interior decorator of the old school but with ideas which work for the simplest outdoor spaces

+ walk rosie the bouncy black, lab/springer
+ make a determined effort to deal with admin
+ make a big cup of strong coffee washed down with toast (preferably something chewy and textural like sourdough from borough market) and my friend emmas' marmalade

+ make meringues for pudding - they're so easy and divine with cream and strawberries
+ work on my book and wrestle with writer's bloc
+ have a hunt round my local charity shop for bargains

+ listen to radio 4 - it's pure therapy
+ go and eat, drink and gossip at my friend ilse's
+ hang out at home with the children

what are you looking forward to?
visiting the new kandinsky exhibition at tate modern

the future is…
realising my endless plans and ideas

the past is...
remembering the hum of bees in the shady, rustling eucaplytus tree at the cool white house in anadulcia where we spent ten glorious summers

your happiest accident?
meeting my husband alastair in the queue of new undergraduates at the school of oriental and african studies where we both studied many moons ago