Vintage Rebel

The story of Timothy Oulton, a British décor destination, begins in 1976. Tim Oulton’s father, Major Philip Oulton, opened an antiques shop in the UK. He was proud of his country, his military service and his store, and those influences became part of Tim’s signature style (along with a dash of rakishness, a leftover from boarding school). The blend reveals a taste for luxury, traditional techniques and authenticity. It shows up in his collection of stores, which is expanding globally, including in California, Florida and New York City. The furniture and accessories will be available at the brand’s first stand-alone gallery in Westport. Read on as the founder shares his vision.

Timothy Oulton’s Whitecliff Sofa

What is the world of Timothy Oulton?
“Our core philosophy is based around giving people a great hosted experience. We’ve always been driven by this realization that we only have one life, so we should elevate every moment to the utmost. The stores, the furniture, our hospitality projects…everything is a vehicle for delivering a visceral experience. It’s got to move people in some way. We’re unique because we’re not purely a design company. It’s more than that. It’s about the craftsmanship, the materials, the story.”

What is the aesthetic of the brand?
“We use classic materials and traditional hand-finishing techniques, but with a modern twist—a slightly subversive energy. Everything is handcrafted using time-honored techniques and beautiful authentic materials. It always starts with the materials; we don’t even decide on the shape until we’ve got a material in our hands. We bring old timber from the UK, leathers from Brazil and Argentina, and stone, crystal and glass. We’ll look at the materials and ask, what can we try and do with this? The product isn’t for the fainthearted. It’s very strong visually, and that’s something we really focus on.”

Timothy Oulton’s Bay Swivel Chair and Shimmer Bar Cabinet

How has it evolved?
“I think in the early days we were known for being quite a masculine brand, but that’s changed over the years. I’m really happy with how varied our aesthetic has become. We can do rugged and casual, we can do sleek and polished, and we can do our own take on modern glamour. Some of our lighting pieces are incredibly glamorous. I think the biggest evolution for us was introducing the Noble Souls collection a few years ago. It’s the first full sofa range made using 100 percent natural vegetable-dyed linens. It’s still epic but in a simple, calming way. I think it’s crucial to evolve as a designer. We are constantly looking to innovate in both our designs and the materials we use.”

Your story is rooted in antiques. How is the brand compatible with current furniture and decor styles?
“Vintage never dies. It has a story, and that’s what draws people to it. Vintage will always be a big influence for us, whether it’s in the design or the materials, but we put our own modern twist on it. I always talk about the Gyro Crystal—a rococo chandelier. Pretty as it is, it’s boring on its own, but whack it in a cage and it just becomes something else.
I stand by the mantra, ‘Be Relevant or Be Dead.’ We borrow ideas from the past, but we make them our own.”

Any favorite pieces?
“It’s hard to pick a favorite. It’s a bit like asking who your favorite child is! I’ve always loved our Shabby sofa—it’s so effortlessly cool, and our new Gentle Shepherd sheepskin collection is just epic. We’re working on some other new designs, which will launch throughout the year so watch this space.”

 

Timothy Oulton, founder and creative director

WHAT TO EXPECT
“Westporters should expect an immersive feast for the senses—our best-loved furniture, lighting, and home accessories showcased in a captivating setting. We want you to make yourself at home, relax on our chairs, touch everything, put your feet up on the couch. We can help you find that one statement piece or bring an entire room or house to life with the help of our 3D room-planning service. It’s somewhere you can come, have a glass of champagne, or a cup of tea in a beautiful vintage teacup, and enjoy the experience.”

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