This week I’m writing about how my childhood experiences influenced the foundation of Jamb.
I was reminded of this last week, when I had a long overdue catch up with Sue Crewe, the former editor of House and Garden. It is always such a pleasure and so much fun to spend time with Sue. We met at the Pimlico showroom and I gave her a sneak preview of our new range of affordable lighting I am developing at Jamb. …
Amongst the flow of conversation, we reflected on a talk we gave together during Chelsea Design week in 2014 about my passion for collecting that began when I was a child….
The seed was sown when I was seven and I had my first experience of classical perfection – setting eyes on Ragley Hall. The only remaining Palladian house designed by Robert Hooke with interiors by James Gibbs, (the inspiration behind our St James fireplace ) and gardens by Capability Brown. I drove my family crazy, making them return there everytime we were in Warwickshire. It was the start of a pure passion – ( crossed with anxiety!) of wanting something so much, but not knowing how it would ever be possible ( even at seven!) I realized that by collecting antiques, or interiors from such a building was a way to own a part of it – and that is what I would endeavour to do!
The second unforgettable and life shaping experience that totally opened my eyes, was at the same age, when I visited the Walter Potter Museum of Curiosities in Brighton.
These unknown and untouchable micro worlds were totally fascinating to me and again, the burning desire of owning such wonder grew.
I feel so sad that I can’t share these magical taxidermic worlds that Potter created with my seven year old, but the collection ended up being sold in a Bonhams auction. Controversy surrounded the sale as Damian Hirst wanted to buy the entire collection for £1 million but Bonhams refused and the result was that they made less money and the collection was disbanded. Damian did however buy the first entire taxidermy collection of Darwin Sinke & van tongeren that we represent at Jamb.
Warner Dailey, my childhood and adult mentor, lived in the Old Knoll and this is where I would hang out with my best mate as a child – his stepson Sam.
Warner was the reason I became a dealer. He was and still is an inspiration to me. He made me realise that it is possible to both collect and turn it into a viable business. Through him i understood that your passion could be your trade too, and at twelve years old I was selling down the Greenwich market with Sam and Warner. (Once gathering a little too much attention when the police wanted to know what we were doing selling imported guns from India!?)
Warner not only collected extraordinary things but also had connections to wonderful people. One of his friends was Hugh Kennedy who owns Acton Round. The finest example of a Grade 1 Queen Anne house.
Another great eccentric and collector with no temptation to modernize. It was heads up to a bygone era and I was smitten. I was falling deeper into the English country house aesthetic that has become the essence of Jamb.
It was a revelation to me the first time I visited Sir John Soane Museum.
The Soane has been a huge influence on Jamb. We were the first company to reproduce Soane’s designs and make facsimile copies of the iconic Lincoln Inn Fields chimneypiece. The Dulwich fireplace and grate, The Soane fireplace and the Holwood fireplace and the Mansfield Mirror are all homage to Soane. Nothing matches his collection of architectural elements and oddities through the 18th and 19th century and he serves as a continued inspiration to collectors today, including my own.