Dreamt from inside a cafe, their ideas scribbled on a notepad, founders June Summerill and Bernadette Bishop launched their eponymous brand after becoming frustrated at the lack of personality and intimacy of most kitchenware shops at the time. Their concept was to create a space that mirrored their mutual love of food and precious moments dining around the table with rustic homeware that could be passed down the generations. Opening their flagship store in Holland Park, 1994, Summerill & Bishop quickly became a hub which bought people together, whilst echoing the warm and homely aesthetic both women wished to create.
Now under the helm of Bernadette’s son, Seb after her passing in 2014, he continues to honour her passion through beautifully hand-finished floral linen tablecloths that have become both a sentiment to Bernadette and a core essence of the brand. We spoke with Seb about what makes a dining experience truly special and the importance of family, because in times like these, we can all take a leaf out of Summerill & Bishop’s book when it comes to cherishing those all-important moments around the table.
Dress up or dress down?
Dress up but with sneakers.
Cocktail hour means?
Vodka and Orange
On my playlist?
Easy…any song by my daughter Skye Bishop. Go check out her music.
My dinner table is never without?
My mother’s Hand Stamped Falling Flower tablecloth and napkins – always. Mum would sign off all her notes and letters with this pretty flower. To commemorate her passing and her love of being surrounded by family and friends at the table, we trademarked the flower design and created a beautiful line of linens, our very first, featuring her signature flower which launched back in 2015. It’s what inspired me to take S&B in a new direction. So although mum might not be physically with us, her presence is always felt at the table.
“My mother’s Hand Stamped Falling Flower tablecloth and napkins, always.”
Summerill & Bishop
Favourite dinner party flowers?
Spring - Lily of the Valley in delicate little vases.
Summer – Hydrangeas of course! We were inspired to dedicate our new collection to the Hydrangea, its resulted in the most beautiful tablecloth and napkin that captures the essence of the flower wonderfully.
Autumn - When I was younger, my mother used to send me out to fetch beautiful giant London Plane leaves that had fallen from the trees in our garden, which we would use as placemats underneath the plates, or use as place settings. I always thought that was special and I something which I still do with my own children.
Winter – Gypsophila – It’s like having snow at the table…
What’s for dinner?
That’s impossible to answer, it’s too hard to narrow down! Can I cut straight to dessert? I’d choose either Passion fruit soufflé, my wife Heidi’s Tarte Tatin or Apple and Rhubarb crumble… Oui, je suis gourmande?
Home-cooked or catered?
A light, simple homecooked meal that uses honest ingredients – so you know exactly what you’re getting. I feel much better physically and mentally after a homecooked meal – there’s something comforting about it that catered can never quite replicate no matter how good it is. I also think it feels quite special when your host cooks for you, it feels personal and like you’re really getting to know them.
“A light, simple homecooked meal that uses honest ingredients”
Summerill & Bishop
Best kept party secret?
I once had the pleasure of interviewing a brilliant parent and child psychotherapist called Julie Johnson for our S&B blog ‘Meanderings’. She taught me the game of ‘mad, sad and glad’. It’s how I sometimes start a conversation with my kids at the dinner table. You go around the table and each person explains to the rest of the table one thing from their day that made them ‘mad, sad and glad’. Before this, when I would ask my children how their day was, their responses would often be monosyllabic. Since playing the game, I learn much more about their day. It’s a great and easy way for them and us to express and download our anxieties at the table, something which in today’s society, is so important.
Getting people around the table and communicating is one of our core values at S&B – from our experience, when we create beautiful tablescapes, people want to stay longer at the table which in turn means they going to talk and share their thoughts for longer.
Greatest recipe ever copied off a restaurant menu?
Staying on the topic of deserts. During lockdown Nobu released the recipe to their Chocolate Bento Box – much to my surprise, my family and I managed to replicate that perfectly.
Dream dinner guests?
I’d give anything to have one more dinner with my mother and my grandparents – together again, with my immediate family. And if that’s not possible, I would return to my digital roots and choose Phil Knight, Elon Musk, Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos and spend the night looking into the future.
Truth or dare?
Always dare – so much more fun to be had that way.
What’s for pudding?
Herbal tea or nightcap after dinner?
Fresh mint tea with two sugars please.
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