Really New Beginnings

I’ve been hinting, from time to time, about some exciting developments in the shop.

And they’ve all happened this week. For ages and ages, Bridie and I have been talking about some new collaborations. A few months ago, we had a brilliant brainstorm down in Dorset, in a perfect weekend that culminated in our discovering a beautiful spring woodland – doesn’t that seem a long time ago now?  Although in another sense, only yesterday.

Well, Bridie and I really started talking and decided that the only way we can really grow the shop together is for it to belong to her as well as me. It’s been an interesting time, working out how to set up and structure the new company. I’ll be honest. We spent a long and careful time talking together about ‘what happens if…’  Sometimes, scenario planning can be a bit grim (what happens if I get mashed in a car crash); sometimes it’s happy (what happens if Bridie has a baby, or if Ben wants to go to travelling for six months)… but it all needs thinking through.

We were carefully guided by some good people who know what they’re talking about, and last week, at the end of a long trek (you try changing merchant numbers and bank accounts and staying sane), everything was in place.

On Wednesday this week, we signed. It’s official. Bridie and I are now partners in crime, and we’re both unbelievably excited.

As I’ve already written a while ago, part of all this has been the arrival of excellent Colin, who is working away furiously to rebuild our shop website, and make the entire experience of shopping with us a lot easier, simpler, and more reassuring, without throwing away any of the things that we all love about the way things look.  The new website should be launched about a month from now – doubtless there will be moments where things are not quite to your liking, and we will endeavour to take on board all comments and feedback as best we can.  Several readers have already kindly written to Colin with thoughts about how we could improve, and I’m really grateful for that. Drop him a line ( if you like (although he’s on a well-earned holiday this week).

Well, all of this has led Bridie and me to start thinking about the name of the shop. When we first started talking, we were all agreed that you couldn’t do better than do nothing.  After all, what is wrong with being called Ben Pentreath? Exactly…

But over the months, and recent weeks, we gradually realised that there was a new story to tell. And so the shop is to be reborn this autumn: Pentreath & Hall.  I think it was on a very early morning train journey to Paris a couple of weeks ago that we realised the logic. We were chatting to our friend Jane from Simple & Pretty, who was on the same train to Maison & Objet, when we said… “Jane, what would you think about the name Pentreath & Hall?”.  Well, the conclusion was, how crazy is it to have a shop name that sounds so good it could only possibly be made up (you know what I mean)… except, it’s not made up at all. It’s just our names.

So we figured it all out on the journey back from Paris and that was that. We even got told off very nicely by one of our neighbours in the carriage, for talking a little bit too loudly. Sorry.

And so now for the fun part.  We’ve been thinking about logos and designs and shopfronts and it’s all very cool. We’re reviving our obsessions with 19th century fonts.

The first unfurling of our new look will arrive to co-incide with (a date for your diaries….) this autumn’s Cabinet of Curiosities, which opens on the 23rd.

In the meantime, I’ve been spending a bit of time getting in the mood.

You will of course already be familiar with Bridie’s insane decoupage letter trays

So it will be no surprise that we both fell off our stools with happiness when we found David Smith the signwriter from Torquay who is going to make us a glass-painted water gilded shop sign. We’re going to have to wait a little while for that… but all good things come to those who wait… Here’s a sign Dave made for the V&A recently.

I should say so.

Here’s my sketch thought so far…

Three dimensional leaf-green shadows… pink backing… heaven. We hope you agree.

So what’s also happened is the delivery of our first patterned papers. They arrived on an enormous palette last week… our first real collaboration.  We are selling them, of course, in the shop, and if you happen to be a shop-owner, we are also, for the first time ever, wholesaling the papers too. So we hope they spread across the world! We’ve started with 4 patterns in three different colourways, and we’ll be devising new colours for the spring very soon. Next we will be making bound books and desk boxes. The formal launch of the papers & accessories will, we hope, coincide neatly with the unveiling of our new gilded shop sign.

Well, I think that’s quite enough news already. Finally, thank you very much to the several sharp-eyed readers who have been sending me nice notes about the arrival of this in the Evening Standard last week, which was a nice counterpart to Bridie’s much-deserved arrival on the Apartment Therapy list of the 10 most important and interesting young British designers right now. Woohoo…. and… phew.

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