Interview
At Home with

Otis Batterbee

We go behind closed doors with the man bringing sartorial credentials to the travel necessities

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@LibertyLondon

Putting the focus back on the manufacturer, Otis Batterbee has built a business around the fundamentals of fine British design. Now, he’s casting his creative net further afield, with ambitions to bring new levels of luxury to his sought-after lifestyle accessories. Inviting us inside his Hampstead home, the man behind the label shares his cultural inspirations, printmaking pedigree and the importance of always being prepared.

Where do you find inspiration?I adopt the mantra that there is inspiration everywhere if you keep an eye out for it. One of the prints I’m working on is comprised of details from stucco buildings in London. It’s very abstract but it started life as patterns on window ledges and doorframes. I think inspiration is heightened when travelling – that’s why I will always have a sketchbook with me on my travels.

What’s on your reading list?I like to keep a stack of books beside my bed. At the moment, I’m loving the book The Radical Eye that accompanied Elton John’s Modernist Photography Collection at the Tate Modern. I am also reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – I am getting towards the end of this book and finding it a little hard to let go – it’s all-consuming.

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What’s your favourite place you’ve visited?I love so many places and get to travel a lot with my label. Recently I have been working with a few workshops in Portugal and I’ve been visiting Porto and Lisbon frequently. If you like faded grandeur and 1920-30s architecture both these places will tick the box. There is a very youthful spirit and I have had some amazing suppers that have led on to dancing the night away.

What are your grooming go-tos?I love products that make a difference. I use Kiehl’s Micro-Blur Skin Perfector and Kiehl’s Super Multi-Corrective Cream. I love a fragrance that stays and French Lover is my favourite by Frédéric Malle, which I stumbled upon at Liberty.

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What can’t you travel without?One of my eye masks – I can’t fly without one. They block out the synthetic light in the cabin, create a layer of protection and the lavender is actually rather soothing against the skin. I also have a travel drawer at home, which always has everything already set for travelling: pouches with decanted beauty products, perfume sample sprays to freshen up on the plane and all chargers and adapters ready to go.

How do you balance traditional crafting and innovation?We create Otis Batterbee products with workshops both large and small around the world. It’s really interesting because they all work so differently. In Europe, forget having a conversation with anyone at lunchtime. Lunch is lunchtime and I love that. We produce our nightwear in Portugal and once 12:30 hits, the discussion of work ends immediately and we all head off to the same restaurant across the road. As a designer I think it’s important to understand the production process too; I know everyone we work with from the workshop owner to machinists making our products. After all, the person making and creating is the most important.

What prints are you most drawn to?I love a Paisley print – one of my favourite eras is Etro in the 1970s. I adore the Liberty Felix and Isabelle print and have used it across eye masks exclusively for the store. I love the way that a Paisley print can contain so many clashing colours but still feel rakish and smart.

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Who is your biggest icon?My friend Tony King is such an inspiration – he has the most amazing sartorial taste. Tony is a creative director that has worked with the Rolling Stones and has really met everyone you would ever want to meet. He has such brilliant reference points, at supper the other night he mentioned the 1970s New York interior designer Billy Baldwin who he was friends with – I am now obsessed with his work.

What’s your favourite place in London?It has to be Hampstead where I live with my partner Ian and my dog Mr Julien. There’s the Heath that stretches for miles and it’s perfect for walking the dog and taking tea at Kenwood House. The architecture ranges from grand villas to farmers’ cottages. Living in Hampstead is the closest to living in a quintessentially English village in Central London. The Spaniards is great for a pint during the week – hell on earth at the weekend. The best-kept secret in Hampstead is 28 Church Row, a restaurant that takes its inspiration from the best Italian and Spanish cuisine.

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Can you share a Liberty memory?Liberty has been ingrained in my life – my great grandparents fled to England to escape Nazi persecution and founded a textile business with the purchase of a single sewing machine. Liberty became an early customer and they produced a number of products for the store for decades. For me, my most impactful memory of Liberty would be meeting Gina Ritchie, the now Buying Director when I launched my label. Thankfully the meeting went well and she placed an order; that order really changed my life as it’s what got the ball rolling for Otis Batterbee.

What’s next for the brand?It has been quite a busy time at Otis Batterbee. I am working on a number of new products that will launch later in the year. I have been meeting a lot of craftsmen and producers, from weavers in Kashmir to pottery factories in the North of England. I want to create the full Otis Batterbee lifestyle offer from home fragrance to stationery that carries the same attention to detail that we have become know for.

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