With a deep rich history stretching from China to London we caught up with William Lack owner of Altfield London, on his trend predictions for next year and his top tips for choosing textiles for your home. Altfield is a leading resource for beautiful Textiles, Wallcoverings and Leather, distributing a number of high end lines from around the world.
My sister Amanda Clark and her business partner David Halperin started Altfield in Hong Kong in 1982, and as the handover of Hong Kong approached in in the early 1990s and as international business grew a London office seemed like a good idea. I was working for a bank at that stage and in the summer of 1992 I was a passenger in a car involved in a crash, as I was recovering that summer and into the Autumn and in between rehabilitation sessions I helped out with answering phones. By December of 1992 I decided to leave the bank and work full time for Altfield in the UK.
We started off as antique furniture dealers, China had started to open up and we travelled around China finding new styles of furniture unlike anything else on the market in HK or elsewhere which was dominated by heavily carved blackwood furniture. We were seeing and buying Ming style country furniture only previously referred to in a book published in 1948 when the worlds attention was elsewhere after the devastation of WWII. Our Hong Kong operation is still run by my sister and I run the UK. Our product offer has changed over the years as we have adapted to the changing market – we still have Chinese Furniture for sale but we are now primarily a textile, wallcovering and leather company and we curate some of the world’s finest interiors brands
We try as far as possible to keep it simple – we are not a large corporate company – we are very easy for the design trade to do business with – you want it, we’ll sell it, you pay, we deliver - repeat. I work out of the showroom at Chelsea Harbour pretty much every day and am there if people want to see me. If I am not there I would be down at our accounts office in Seend in Wiltshire were we have converted a Georgian stable block into an office and receiving warehouse.
I am seeing a lot more colour coming back into play. The 2008-2013 period was very dull as so many brands played safe and kept a very neutral palette as they battened down the hatches to keep going. We were fortunate, we grew in this period but there is so too much identikit design out there
There are so many designers all doing fabulous things, but here are a couple that I think are especially amazing.
Fabric wise - Jack Lenor Larsen, Mark Pollack, Lori Weitzner. The late Jim Thompson’s legacy is huge
Interiors – the late David Hicks is a huge hero - Robert Hatsfield Ellsworth an art dealer based in New York not a conventional designer but he created amazing room sets in his 20 room NY Apartment home to sell his antiques and art. Others include Karen Howes at Taylor Howes, Lucy Ford of Goose Design, and James Page.
Hotel Designers – the teams at GA Design, Hirsch Bedner London, KCA International and Wilsdon Design consistently turnout great projects. Also a big fan of Kit Kemp of Firmdale Hotels.
Shop Designers – Blacksheep, Caulder Moore and Four IV
Restaurant Designers – the late David Collins and Martin Brudnizki at MBDS
Garden Designer – Julian & Isabel Bannerman
Lighting Designer – Robert Kuo at McGuire… Sally Storey at John Cullen
Jewellery – Kai-Yin Lo and my sister Amanda Clark at Altfield HK
Electronics – Jonny Ive at Apple
Aircraft – RJ Mitchell – is there anything more beautiful than a Spitfire inflight
Cars – Marek Reichman –I love his Aston Martin designs
Photographer – Michael Freeman
Fashion Designer – the late Jean Muir
I grew up in Hong Kong so I find the East Asian design aesthetic very comfortable to live with – books and travelling - a walk in a market is always inspiring – be it in France or Thailand…
I have 3 small children so at the moment for a sofa is it child proof! But for everything else keep an open mind and let it appeal to all your senses. My bedroom curtains are silk, full lined and interlined and blackout lined – the drawing room are silk and linen – with a linen sheer behind… Most of all buy the best you can afford and then some and do not skimp on the making up, they will potentially last you decades ….
View the stunning products available from Altfield by clicking here.