Interior Design

Ben Pentreath: 10 design secrets revealed

The architectural interior designer opens up about what inspires him and his work

Ben Pentreath
Photography/Camilla Pilkington
(Image credit: Future)

Here at H&G we have long admired the quintessentially English designer Ben Pentreath.

From urban projects to cottage interiors, his studio covers a wide range of disciplines, all achieved with the utmost charm and wit.

Now, the interior designer to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is letting us into how his mind works, and what gets those creative juices flowing. 

Here's what he had to say...

1. My design hero

Ben Pentreath David Hicks

Photography/Slim Aarons/Stringer

(Image credit: Getty Images)

David Nightingale Hicks was a modern legend in interior design, most prominent in the 1960s. 

Hicks is my design hero for his ability to mix modernity with an imbued sense of classical tradition. 

I’ve been highly influenced by his use of colour, pattern and layering - his eclectic approach feels just as relevant today.

2. My favorite print

Ben Pentreath Morris and Co

(Image credit: Morris & Co)

I first saw William Morris’s Willow Bough 
25 years ago and I’ve loved it ever since.

The print was first produced in 1887 and so it’s been incredibly exciting to bring it back as part of my collaboration with Morris & Co. 

3. My small luxury

Ben Pentreath bothy

(Image credit: Unsplash/Katie Barrett)

A small luxury important to me is spending time in our bothy on the west coast of Scotland. 

Bothies are very simple buildings at the best of times - the name even comes from the Gaelic word for hut. 

Our bothy is basic accommodation - it's small and not very comfortable, but I love it.

4. My decorating rule

Ben Pentreath design

Photography/Simon Bevan

(Image credit: Ben Pentreath)

In decoration, the best rule is not to overthink. 

Follow your heart not your head. Hold on to the freshness of your first thoughts. 

5. My one to watch

In the age of Instagram everyone’s a 
new name worth noting! 

I’m looking 
forward to seeing a huge building in London designed by Adam Nathaniel Furman.

6. My most treasured piece

Ben Pentreath Palladiana

(Image credit: Fornasetti)

The object I own that means most to me is 
a Fornasetti Palladiana chest of drawers I bought before I could afford to do so, when I didn’t even have a place to live. 

I'm pleased to say that I have never regretted that moment of madness.  

7. My favorite design shop

Ben Pentreath Tinsmiths

(Image credit: Tinsmiths)

Apart from my own shop, Pentreath & Hall, co-owned with Bridie Hall, my favourite design shop is Tinsmiths in Ledbury for ceramics, fabrics and lighting. It’s perfect. 

8. My current design read

Ben Pentreath book

(Image credit: Lund Humphries)

I recently enjoyed The Edwardians and their Houses by Tim Brittain-Catlin. 

The book is beautifully written and produced, looking at the era's domestic architecture and the British culture as a whole.

Pick up the book that's inspiring Ben Pentreath, £33.51, Amazon

9. My alternative career

Ben Pentreath typography

(Image credit: Unsplash/Bruno Martins)

I expected to be an architectural historian, but part of me would like to become a letterpress printer - I’m obsessed with typography. 

10. My favorite garden

Ben Pentreath Rousham

(Image credit: Rousham Gardens)

I love the garden at Rousham in Oxfordshire. Favourite corners are the borders, the walled garden and the dovecote. 

More about Ben Pentreath

Ben Pentreath’s architectural and interior design studio tackles everything from master-planning and urban development to private houses and playful interiors. 

Ben studied Art History at the University of Edinburgh before attending the Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture. He worked for five years in New York and then with the Prince’s Foundation, before starting his own practice in London in 2004. 

Ben Pentreath’s book English Decoration, published in 2011, established his growing reputation as an author. The sequel, English Houses, was published in 2016. His new book, An English Vision, a monograph of the work of the practice, is published by Rizzoli New York in 2021.

Find out more about Ben Pentreath on his website.

Interview conducted by Celia Rufey

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.