Timothy Oulton and his interiors fantasy
Forget minimalism – Timothy Oulton is in town. He tells us about his stunning new flagship store in south west London
To call Timothy Oulton’s new flagship store in Chelsea a furniture shop would be like calling the Grand Canyon a big hole. It is a surreal interiors fantasy, compete with a giant yellow submarine in a fishtank, a glowing rock crystal, it even has its own spaceship. Hell, you don’t even need to buy anything.
“It’s certainly not your usual furniture store,” says Tim in what must be the understatement of the year. “It’s somewhere you can come, have a glass of Champagne, and enjoy the experience.”
The store is in the iconic Bluebird on King’s Road, appropriate given the area’s rich history of art, fashion, design and basically giving the two-fingered salute to convention. “You think of King’s Road and you think of Sid Vicious, Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood – everyone used to talk about the King’s Road. We want to become an integral part of the community here. We hope people will see our new flagship at Bluebird not only as a great furniture destination but also a place to host and connect with people, whether it’s at our regular events or as a unique backdrop to host your own party.”
Tim is the son of an antiques dealer: Major Philip Oulton, who opened a shop in 1976 in the village of Hale, near Manchester, and decided to name it Hale Antiques. However, the sign-writer spelt it wrong and Halo was born. Tim worked for the business, taking over in 1990 and deciding that his future was in re-inventing antiques to give them a contemporary spin.
“Vintage will always be a big influence for us – whether it’s in the design or the materials – but we put our own twist on it. A rococo chandelier, pretty as it is, is boring on its own, but whack it in a cage and it just becomes something else.”
“Vintage will always be a big influence for us – whether it’s in the design or the materials – but we put our own twist on it.”
His design obsession is the Chesterfield sofa. “They’re one of the most enduring icons of the design world. Our version is called the Westminster, it has the same classic hand-tufted silhouette but the proportions lend themselves to a more comfortable sit. You can choose it in a really bold finish like our Jack’dN Brok’n leather [overpainted with a Union Jack and distressed], or go for something a bit quieter. That’s the great thing about Chesterfields – you can put one into any interior and it still works.”
Tim has expanded all over the world with stores stretching from Singapore to San Francisco. The brand also extends to hospitality projects, and projects include a restaurant on King’s Road, a boutique hotel and a restaurant in the Middle East.
After his busy year, Tim is looking forward to Christmas. “I’m looking forward to getting round the table with everyone and enjoying a traditional Christmas dinner – I do very good roast potatoes!” Does his own home reflect his design ethos? “I think when it comes to decorating your home, it should be whatever makes you smile rather than following any set rules. I like to collect things when I travel, it could be something really quirky I picked up at a European market or something more traditional. It’s about creating a space that’s relaxed but playful where everyone can celebrate together.”