I HEART WORK
Who are you: Shaun Clarkson
What is your work: Pitfield London (and Shaun Clarkson ID, Cliff Barns and Carrington House)
What is your website: www.pitfieldlondon.com
Describe your work in 5 words? Eccentric, eclectic, ethereal, colourful, inspired.
Can you tell us about your company and what you do? Pitfield London is a shop, café and gallery space – the retail venture of my interior design company Shaun Clarkson ID. The emporium stocks beautiful, unique and attention-grabbing homewares - presenting colour, glamour, glitz and excitement. Vintage finds, designer wallpapers and carpets, reinvented furniture and modern pieces combine in a store which marries different eras and influences. It’s a retro and riveting, fantastical world! To extend the lifestyle, the café offers an alternative gathering place, and on the menu, freshly ground coffee and specialist teas are available alongside indulgent cakes, luscious fluffy meringues, delicious muffins, healthy salads, hearty hot dishes and homemade classics. To the rear of the venue, the exhibition gallery offers pure fantasy and escapism. A curatorial space offers a constantly rotating installation of designers, craftspeople, artists and exclusive collaborative goods.
Where is your office/studio and what is the view out of your window? The studio is located above Pitfield London in Shoreditch – we look out onto Pitfield Street where we can see a cycle lab and juice bar, trendy hair salon and a launderette!
What is the first thing you do when you get to work? It always changes – it depends on what deadlines are coming up and the meetings I have planned for that day - be it design, production or PR.
What is a typical day at work? The beauty of what I do is that every single day is different. I own three different businesses so my time is divided between an umbrella brand. I could be brainstorming design ideas, filming for Channel 4 or sitting with my accounts department running through budgets!
What are the tools of your trade? The main tools are my brain and a keen eye - I just know when things are wrong! That, plus a strong team (I work very closely with my partner, Paul, who is the leveller) is what makes things a success. I have the mad ideas and Paul reigns them in! I have the vision but I need people to pick up the nuts and bolts and make it happen.
What can’t you work without? I can’t work without my team and their dedication. Their belief in what we do is amazing.
Why do you love what you do? It’s multifaceted and based on aesthetics. There are so many elements to my job, all of which are creative, so I love the new exciting challenges it brings every day.
Who or what inspires you? I can be inspired by absolutely everything and use this to shape my work. It could be a decorative Russian spoon, a night in Burma, or a painted egg in a box.
What do you think will be the next ‘big’ trend/idea in interiors? I think we are in an ‘anything goes’ culture. Young people are bombarded with imagery and ideas from access to the media so we need to be fresh. It definitely makes my job more exciting that we can throw things up in the air. I’m naturally eclectic - so what we do fits. I also think the pop-up trend is here to stay, it’s not about building things for life, but about changing and renewing.
What is the best advice you have received? I don’t know about advice but it was definitely my grandmother who first inspired me to design and encouraged me to pursue things seriously. She was a painter and had a great studio, which I just loved being in.
What is one moment in your career you will always remember? There are too many! I think it would have to be my breakthrough project, the Raw Club. I had the opportunity to design the club in 1990 for Oliver Peyton. Luckily, I was given an open brief and I truly appreciated the buzz of hundreds of people passing through my own ideas, turned into reality. Now I’m trying to make that signature style available for my customers at Pitfield.
What is the best part of your job? For me, there’s always been a passion for art and design. I studied Fine Art as a degree, which I believe was a great foundation for my career. It fuelled my creativity and ensured I had an open mind! I just want to create MY most perfect environments, whether in the shop or someone’s home – that’s what drives me, living life in Narnia! That’s the best part of the job!
And the worst? The worst thing is having to deal with all the bits that give me less time to be creative like HR, money and the huge amounts of tax you have to pay to run a small business.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Generally, every new challenge excites me and is my new obsession. If I have to pick one thing I’m most proud of as my greatest achievement, it would be my own operations, especially the houses Cliff Barns and Carrington House in Norfolk. They are unique and were so maverick at the time.
What are you working on at the moment? Pitfield London is expanding - we’re opening another store and café in Winchester, Hampshire. Having just finished with our London Design Festival activities, we’re now looking ahead to this winter and our exclusive Christmas range. We’ve also been invited back to Selfridges, designing four collections for the department store - so it’s all hands on deck to get the manufacturing done for next month.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life? Having more hours in the day!
What have you learnt the hard way? Believing that people do what they say they are going to do. It’s a lesson I’m still learning but I think my optimism and belief in human nature is what keeps me going.
If you could do another job what would you like to do and why? I love my job, most of the time, so I’m not sure what else I could do. Maybe work as an artist? I trained to be a sculptor and I painted, so it’s in my DNA. I would have to be at the top of my game!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to do what you are doing? Learn to communicate your ideas succinctly. Get the qualifications, acquire the skills - you can’t even get interviews in my business without them. The best bit of advice is to grab every opportunity with both hands. I never say no, which can get me into trouble, but has also opened many doors.
If you could be someone for a day who would it be? My husband! He has a lovely life and always seems happy and satisfied. I would also get to see how difficult it is living with me!
What would you like to be doing in five years time? I would like to be working on my new top-secret legacy project. It’s something that is going to encompass all the skills I have honed over the years with the ultimate plan of leaving something to the nation.
If you had an extra hour each day what would you do with it? Have a massage.
What’s your personal motto? Never say no!
How would you like to be remembered? For having grabbed life with both hands and enjoyed every moment.
Thank you Shaun for talking to The Lifestyle Editor.