We spoke to Jonathan Saunders about bad holiday packing, rainy beach breaks in Ireland and furniture shopping in Sao Paulo…
To celebrate Brit fashion, superstar Jonathan Saunders has collaborated with holiday company Thomson for its paradisiacal Sensatori Resort in Jamaica. We spoke to him about bad holiday packing, rainy beach breaks in Ireland and furniture shopping in Sao Paulo…
What was your first ever holiday?
Being on a rainy beach in Northern Ireland which was where we always used to go on holiday in the UK. We’d also visit the islands of Mull and Arran in Scotland, too. It’s a far cry from my most recent holiday, to the lovely beaches of Jamaica, but Scotland is a beautiful place to have a break. Even then, my memories of early holidays were places that were wonderfully quiet. We never went to loud places. I think I still look for that in a holiday destination now.
What was the best holiday you’ve ever been on?
I visited an island called Koh Kut, in Thailand, in the middle of nowhere. We ended up staying in these huts that were literally in the middle of the ocean. I had never been anywhere like that in my life before. We all lead such busy lives, I think it’s great to take stock and just be quiet sometimes. Being a city-dweller means escapism is really important for me. Just to be able to sit and read a book makes such a difference to your general wellbeing. We adventured around the island but mostly we just relaxed – it was the most idyllic situation. Just talking about it makes me want to be there now!
What makes a holiday a successful one?
There’s nothing worse than going on holiday with somebody you can’t stand, no matter how nice the place is! Who wants tension on a holiday? That’s probably the worst thing that could happen on a holiday, isn’t it? On my most recent trip to Jamaica I took my partner and my best friend Evie with me. Evie is my Managing Director, but really she’s my best mate and I hadn’t had a holiday with her in so many years. To have my friend and my partner with me was heaven.
Are you good at packing for your holidays?
I generally pack really badly. It’s very often last minute so I always forget things. I pack so lightly. Usually I take three T-shirts and a pair of shorts and I just rotate them. Packing used to be about my cigarettes. I used to always take my British ciggies away with me, but I’ve recently stopped smoking. It’s been 10 weeks and I feel so much better but… I have been eating quite a lot. One thing on my shopping list is a new pair of swimmers in a larger size – I’ll have to be rolled on the plane for my next holiday! I always take my iPod, a good book, which for my last holiday was Gone Girl, and usually I’ll take a ton of Aesop products. Apart from that I always take a picture of my gorgeous dog Amber; I wish I could take her with me but she’s getting old now. I always think about her when I’m away.
Where would you go for a weekend break?
If I had a weekend free, I’d go somewhere I’ve never been before like Prague, I hear it’s really cool. I’ve not really explored enough of France. The idea of being able to nip on a plane for an hour and arrive on a beach in the South of France sounds like paradise. I always try and visit new places but we do go to Babington House at least once a year. You drive in the countryside and you’re in the middle of heaven. The dogs love it too.
And… if you had a week to kill?
I’m a big cook so I like anywhere that has a strong food culture like Sri Lanka. I was fortunate enough to visit Sri Lanka last year and I got really inspired by the cuisine. I love Thai food as well, and I had friends out there so I’ve been to Thailand a lot and would love to go back.
Do you have a favorite hotel?
I always remember the people wherever I stay. At The Bowery Hotel in New York, the staff are so friendly that it always makes your stay a more memorable experience.
Where do you go shopping abroad?
I love shopping in New York. I love the Comme des Garçons shop on West 22nd street. It’s a really cool store – I always pop by and end up buying loads of the same things. I like buying vintage furniture too. There’s a street in Sao Paulo covered with rows and rows of all this brilliant Brazilian mid-century furniture all stacked up. The pieces are similar to British mid-century furniture design but the colours are insane. Every time I go I say I’m going to bring some furniture home.
Do you relax when you’re on holiday?
I try not to work on holiday but I always end up working. The problem is that as a creative, when you go away you actually have time to think about what you want to design. Finally having a break from all the interruptions during the working day means designs or ideas start crop into your head. Usually in a work environment, it’s quite hard for designers to think about a future collection as you’re managing a group of people. It’s usually on day two or three of a holiday that I’ll begin to have ideas for my next project, or an idea for a print, or a colour will suddenly pop into my head and inevitably my sketch-pad will come out and I’ll start to draw. It’s very hard not to feel inspired whilst you’re away.
Tell us about the Thomson collection you’ve designed
I was particularly excited about the project because at Glasgow Art School I had began by studying product design. It was really wonderful to take a trip down memory lane and get back to that process. In Jamaica you walk down the beach and you stop every twenty minutes, at cafes and beach shacks, to chat somebody; I decided to try and capture that unique, Jamaican friendliness and laid-back attitude. Rather than the pieces being kind of uptight, polished and corporate I wanted a lived in feeling so the wooden beach shacks are covered in peeling paint. The palette became very important to me. The pieces are small but the colours are bold and optimistic. The sarongs and bags are luxury but there’s a relaxed feeling. The whole thing felt more like a holiday than work!