Neighbourhood Meets: Paul de Zwart of Another Country

Neighbourhood Meets: Paul de Zwart of Another Country

“Aside from being a fan of the brand, I see Another Country as the Oliver Spencer of the furniture world,” Paul de Zwart told us when we last interviewed him in 2019. The Dutch-born, London-based creative entrepreneur established his award-winning furniture company with a set of principles we follow ourselves: to be responsible, to be purposeful, to be a company fit for the 21st century. Having collaborated on our store interiors since 2015, the symbiotic relationship between our like-minded brands has only deepened in subsequent years.

Not only does our 39 Chiltern Street opening see us become neighbours, the interiors are a celebration of our blended worlds, balancing newness with a reimagining of the past.  “It felt a natural evolution of our partnership with Another Country, to be as conscious as we possibly could with the interiors,” Oli recently told Wallpaper* As we set up shop in Marylebone, we popped by the Another Country showroom to meet Paul to discuss craft, community, and consciousness.

 

  

Oliver Spencer: Paul, thanks so much for inviting us into your beautiful showroom. We of course know you well, but could you introduce yourself, and Another Country to our readers?

Paul de Zwart: Thanks for asking me on the Oliver Spencer show! I’m Paul de Zwart, I'm the founder and managing director of Another Country, a contemporary furniture brand founded in 2010 and based in this showroom since 2014.


OS: How would you describe your approach at Another Country?

PdZ: Coming from a non-furniture background, the business's ethos has always centred around expressing a set of values and a sort of ethos about how we make, how we design, why we make, and what is the actual purpose and function of what we design. The values that underpin the brand are all about designing and making things that last, both aesthetically and qualitatively

 
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OS: After making Marylebone the home of your first showroom in 2014, how has the area impacted Another Country?

PdZ: When we looked for potential locations, Marylebone was already a familiar part of town to me, a neighbourhood that is very central and accessible from all parts of the city. One day, whilst cycling past, I saw the rental sign in the window and I immediately got a good feeling about it. Displaying furniture requires space and while this is not the biggest of showrooms, it is still 1,400 square feet and just about big enough to display a representative range of our collections. In addition, we were in good company. When we opened, we had Skandium on Marylebone High Street, a well-known Scandinavian furniture retailer, as well as the Conran Shop, both of which have now closed down, and there was Plain English, the kitchen company, which have now moved to Pimlico, so it is fair to say that we have become more of a destination now


OS: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you're opened?

PdZ: Any location, in any neighbourhood, particularly in a city like London, is bound to evolve. As an old and established neighbourhood, Marylebone might not evolve quite as much as areas like Clerkenwell and Farringdon have over the last 10 to 20 years, but one’s custom still changes because your footfall changes. As time passes, you become more focussed on bringing people to you rather than rely on custom right on your doorstep. But as a neighbourhood, we are happy here as we were 10 years ago, and as we just renewed the lease, we're here for some time to come.

 

 

OS: What do you think about Oliver Spencer moving into the neighbourhood?

PdZ: It’s fantastic and about time I’d say. It’s a great street you’re moving into. There are some established brands, which make it an extremely shoppable street and Oliver Spencer is a great addition.

OS: What can you tell us about working on 39 Chiltern Street?

PdZ: We’re delighted with all of the stores we’ve worked on since 2015. This store is partly an evolution, and it is more focussed on reuse than the original fitouts. A lot of the beautiful solid wood fixtures and fittings have been repurposed from other stores and showrooms, making for a wonderful mix of re-use and new.

 

OS: What does a perfect day at 18 Crawford Street look like to you personally?

PdZ: Liaising with the team on projects, discussing the design of a new piece, meeting customers, a spot of lunch across the road at a favourite Thai, then more of the aforementioned. If I need a haircut, we have an excellent neighbour hairdresser, and there is a great coffee to be had at Boxcar Bakery down the street. Then I cycle home in about 20 minutes. That’s a good, contained slice of daily life.


OS: Finally, what excites you most about tomorrow?

PdZ: As any business, we always look forward but we always stay true to our ethos. We run at a pace whereby we’re not obsessed with launching new things all the time, so we allow the design process evolve somewhat organically. That said, we’ve just introduced a new collection to Clerkenwell Design Week, Series Five, and we’re working on some great overseas projects which have had a long gestation but are now kicking off. Also, now that we have a showroom in the West Country, it’s been really rewarding and fun interacting with that community too.

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