FOR some women it’s chocolate and shoes.

For me it’s crusty white bread and sideboards. Seeing the latter in a shop window or at a design exhibition means I can’t resist a peak inside — the equivalent of trying on shoes — as I love to see what’s going on behind closed doors.

A sideboard with drawers is my hand-made loaf to someone else’s sliced pan. So seeing the collection of Oona Bannon and her husband Russell Pinch of Pinch Design was like getting happily lost in an artisan bakery.

But it’s a collection that goes beyond the beloved sideboard to include other furniture pieces — even lighting — and has picked up a few awards.

Based in London with strong Irish connections (Oona’s dad is from Cork), their clients range from architects and the rich, to families who have saved for a few legacy pieces. And it’s a collection-based business rather than bespoke.

“We don’t make bespoke products for private clients,” says Oona, “but we customise our designs with finishes, colours and dimensions of the client’s choice.”

They launched their first collection in 2004 at 100% Design.

“We were running the business from the kitchen table for the first three years,” says Oona. “Before that Russell and I were working for Conran but we wanted to build a life with children and a business. If anything, we’re trying to grow the business small and resist the growth that comes with some success.”

So what is it that prompts their approach to design that achieves a chic but warm, tactile aesthetic?

Oona explains, “We design for the way we live. The pieces aren’t over-designed, they don’t dictate the space. We love to see how clients have used them in their homes.”

And she admits to a life-long love of making her own environments. “I travelled Australia with a friend some years ago and I always changed the places we stayed. My dad is a skip junkie and has imbued in me the idea of value in objects.”

And it’s obvious that this has extended into the Pinch Design philosophy. Not only is there a strong aesthetic value to what they produce, there is also a very practical value.

Looking at the Armoire collection, the Frey cabinet is one of those multi-functional pieces that could accommodate precious party wares and linens in a dining room or act as a bedroom cabinet. I can’t resist expressing my love of sideboards.

“Our first piece was actually a sideboard,” Oona say. “It’s the Wave and it’s still in production.”

Frey has a sideboard version and there’s the Alba which multi-functions as a media unit and whose design aesthetic is continued in a cupboard piece in the Armoire collection.

We skip back to her mention of having wanted to build a life with children. It seems to have worked out.

“I want to show a great example to my daughters that they don’t have to do everything 100% perfectly. There’s so much pressure for women to perform. It’s okay if everything is going okay. Why not be happy with that?”

Next week it’s decorating your home with art and photography.


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