London can be a pretty hectic place. Every day the Tube – the oldest metro system in the world – carries some five million people through tunnels deep underground; busses ferry about the same number through London’s streets. It is a city always on the move, and when you find yourself with some free time, it can be important to take life at a slower pace, though that doesn’t necessarily mean needing to head out of town.
The Salvatori apartment in Holland Park is the perfect place to spend a leisurely morning. The walls – clad in Elisa Ossino’s Plissé texture; black Pietra d’Avola stone, gently folded as if it were linen – and the custom tiled floor create an atmosphere of calm and order. Here, on a quiet street, away from the noise of the city, one can enjoy making breakfast and take coffee in the living room, reading something from one of London’s best independent bookshops, Daunt Books, just down the road, or else take in the sculptural marble accessories by Ossino, displayed on the Proiezioni coffee table: a cylindrical form from the Kilo collection; an idiosyncratically-shaped stone bottle, a homage to the enigmatic still lifes of Giorgio Morandi.
It is a sense of calm that continues in the elegant and restorative surroundings of the Adda bathroom. The subtle rhythm of the dark oak basins create a harmony with the texture of the wall, and the long, simple taps, descending from the ceiling, have a modernist, utilitarian function that makes getting ready for the day an elemental communion with water. (Something that, remembering the umbrella from Piero Lissoni’s Pietra stand on the way out, can be sure to stay in the bathroom – though, on average, Paris receives more rain than London, it’s always good to be prepared in the city.)
Walking slowly through Holland Park, past the peacocks and ruins of a 17th century manor house, the distinctive exterior of the Design Museum emerges, whose interiors were remodelled by regular Salvatori collaborator John Pawson. Having taken in some of the 3000 objects of the museum’s collection, spanning from early Modernism to cutting edge contemporary design, it’s time for lunch, and the Ivy Brasserie, a short walk away, offers the fine dining of its century-old central London sister restaurant in a less formal setting – perfect for a long lunch.
Jumping in a black cab, it’s a short drive to Liberty’s, tucked just off Regent’s Street, to shop for designer clothes in the Tudor Revival-style department store. It’s easy to lose yourself amongst the six floors, built from the creaking wood of two 19th century Royal Navy ships, but, being on the edge of Soho means tea and chocolate eclairs – at London’s oldest pâtisserie Maison Bertaux – are close by. Refuelled, it’s then up to Marylebone, perhaps via the pub for a quick pint, for the evening concert at Wigmore Hall, a few doors down from Salvatori’s showroom.
London has some of the best restaurants in the world, but to end a relaxed day in the city, and for good, simple food, there can only be St John in Clerkenwell. Founded by Fergus Henderson, it takes a very British, unfussy approach to dining, and is perfect for a nourishing, straightforward dinner. After that it’s back home for a glass of whisky in the soft glow of Ossino’s Urano lamp, the light defusing through the translucent Bianco Carrara marble, and bed.