Goodbye, cluster, goodbye empty frames with vintage postcards

11 November 2012
Ben Pentreath

It’s a strange world isn’t it.  You would expect, on a glorious sunny day in London, as it was today, that I would be writing this evening about what a gloriously sunny day it had been in London.

You might even expect me to be writing about the fantastic Tim Walker show that I finally got to at Somerset House, which itself was glowing in the warm November sunshine,

Or even about the ice-skaters:

If it had been pouring with rain (and it might have been) you would not have been surprised by a blog about typographical books:

(the one on the left I found after reading Alice Pattullo’s fantastic blog; the one on the right was what I found in Liverpool the other day and had been looking for—for years).


But no. This weekend has been a bit of a strange weekend.

It started on Thursday. Post Spitalfields Life opening party, everyone feeling a bit tired, a little jaded in the shop, but nonetheless happy at such a great evening.

“Coral is over” said Bridie.

“What do you mean”, I said. “I love coral”.

“Trust me, no more coral”, said Bridie.

Hours later, checking emails, which from time to time can take a while to get to, I came across a link – with no other text, no subject line, that Bridie had sent me and Will.

This was the email.  (Although as you can see, I have now replied, and have forwarded this email one or two times).

So, okay, before you read on, have a click on this link:  fuckyournoguchicoffeetable

And then realise that your world has changed. No more shopping (if you are a Londoner) at twenty twenty one; at SCP, or Skandium. No more browsing the downstairs shelves at The Conran Shop, or Heals, or the Shop at Bluebird Cafe.  No more trips to Merci in Paris, or to concept stores in Berlin or Milan.

Can I explain?

is the best website I’ve seen in a long time. A little internet research reveals that it’s nicely tongue in cheek, and not quite as mean as it appears when you first start reading.

But nonetheless, welcome to the world of Fuck your Noguchi Coffee Table.

Fuck your Periodic Table.

Fuck your cluster of photos on tiny clotheslines on a single frame.

Fuck your wall of birds’ nests on cake stands.

Fuck your paddle.

Fuck your faced out books.

Fuck your vignette of vintage globes, book stack with a thing on top, molded plywood chair, Nelson saucer pendant, and your books arranged by color.

Fuck your map wall.


Fuck your cluster of contiguous frames containing other frames, a mask and/or off-center images that are conspicuously too small.

Fuck your Coral. 

(Yes, that’s why Bridie is creative director at Ben P towers).


The list goes on. SUPERB.  And you know how when your best friend tells you that your other best friend has a really annoying habit, which you had never previously noticed… AND WHICH YOU NOW CANNOT GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD….


I arrived back at my flat on Friday evening. My friend Leslie was staying. We had just been to see Argo (brilliant) and we were ready for bed. “But I must just show you this website” I said. We spent the next two hours looking at each and every page, our sides splitting with laughter.

But in the cold grey light of Saturday morning…. Oh dear.

Everything takes on a different light.

Fuck your wall cluster and your Jonathan Adler blue cross cushion.

Fuck your empty frame with distressed paint finish.

Fuck your empty frames with distressed paint finishes containing vintage black and white postcards ATTACHED BY ANTIQUE PINS.  The Arne Jacobsen Light? Fuck it.

Fuck your giant vintage tadpole and your IRONIC DOGS (bought three days ago at the Spitalfields Life exhibition).  (Frankly, fuck your Fornasetti Palladiana chest of drawers, although that one is ultimately safe).

Uh oh. Fuck your map wall!!!!  And your stripy cushion.

Oh dear, what is that, in front of the map wall? Fuck your 1960s Danish table with its table cluster of coloured glass ornaments and combination of antique Wedgwood candlesticks with different contrasting coloured candles.

Oh no. Fuck your chair hodge podge (yes, you’ll find that somewhere on the website). Oh, and fuck your red wishbone (which I am sitting in now, and is the most comfortable chair I own).

I think the bedroom corridor is okay. The maps are not quite  a cluster.

But the Peter Hone leaves are going to have to go, aren’t they?  (I seem to recall months and months ago some zeitgeist commenter on this blog complaining vociferously about those leaves on the wall of my old flat).

The Gentle Author’s dogs MAY have found a new home in the guest bedroom. They cheer up the William Morris-meets-strange-aesthetic-movement-shelf vibe.

Thank god I didn’t arrange the books by colour any more. (They sort of were at Great Ormond Street, not quite by accident).


Anyway, back to the masters.


I must be honest. Quite a few of the things that I’ve just been highlighting have been annoying me for a little while.  But sometimes it takes someone else to let you know why.

Goodbye cluster.  Goodbye empty frames. Goodbye, iittala glass ornaments. Hello, calmer decoration. Watch this space.  While you chuckle.

I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun with a website, and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed writing this blog this much.



46 comments on this post


Thanks for this, it is priceless. But for God’s sake don’t fuck your map wall – it stays.


Excellent post – thanks for the laugh!
Although unfortunately it seems that I am well and truly Fucked: I’ve got a terrarium!! Other than that I seem to be in the clear.
My favourite Fuck of all? The free-standing book tower (“I think I will just select a book from my chic, quirky and extremely attention-seeking nine foot high book tower. Yes, how about that one…near the bottom”) !!!
Oh, and btw I think your ANTIQUE DRAWING PINS are very, very cool.

What’s wrong with wall maps? I agree about the globes…

Fuck following decor trends. Fuck unfollowing them because you’re told to.


I got into fynct ages ago, and I now run everything through their filter in my head before proceeding with caution. It is fantastic. I once sent an Australian design blog an email with just the link and it cleaned out all the cliches for good. We are planning the decor in our new house and I am letting some things to slip through tho because I like them so much.

Thank you so much for introducing me to the FYNCT site, I have been giggling like a child 😉


I spit tea all over my keyboard when I read this post. Dear God! Good for you that you have the guts to laugh at yourself and let us in on the joke. Keep the map wall, though – it’s just brilliant and not subject to FYNCT rules.

Gideon Watsonsays:

Well if you ever are in the Big Apple, maybe I will ;0


LOL & LOVE. At the end of the day I think it’s about having the courage to say Fuck That, Fuck Them, Fuck Off and surround yourself with what YOU love and what makes YOU happy. (all within the bounds of good taste of course – and there lies the slippery slope).

Gideon Watsonsays:

Fuck Ben Pentreath


Gideon, I like your sentiment

A lot of the stuff that is de rigeur in decor magazines is so yesterday – in particulart the animal skulls (for those who are queasily against killing animals, you can get these in some sort of bastardised plastic material) which after years and years are still turning up with monotonous regularity! I will say though that I am determined to have my little collections of quirky stuff that makes my heart sing! They will be staying! Love your posts Ben!


Fuck decor fascists. And fuck people who say “wall cluster”. Who says that? It’s obviously a “grouping”.

I like to call this syndrome: Tragically Hip. It is an epidemic. It has insipidly wrapped it’s tendrils around all aspects of life’s veneers. Dare to defy. It is quite liberating. The style that emerges is: surprise! YOURS.

Ellen Spencersays:

Best.Blog.Ever. Thank you!


Ben- I’m a regular browser and enjoy your website(s) immensely; it’s great to see you enjoying yourself so much 🙂 Good for you!


I’d seen the reference to you on that blog a while ago and didn’t like to tell you as I didn’t know you would find it funny rather than offensive.
I love the reading interiors magazines and blogs but always had a bit of a problem with some of the stuff highlighted by that blog. I think for me I don’t like it if the interiors look contrived and ‘arranged’ rather than an organic development. I like stuff to have meaning; eg your London map works because you live in a historic part of London and are interested in the development of the city over time and architecture. Some of the interiors done by designers that I see in interiors magazines feel like there is no connection between the people who own the property and the interior that has been designed for them. Sort of pointless ‘stuff’. I think the old Morris thing of useful/beautiful really holds true when each item contains something of the essence of the homeowner and then the interior feels real and true rather than contrived and staged.

I have been enjoying your blog now for some time, but I never have left a comment. I love your house, your garden, the places you go, and every little bit. There are many blogs out there, but yours is one I eagerly look forward to. This irreverent and humorous post reminded me that I really should have thanked you long ago.
Thank you.
Warmest regards,

Hm gotta love ‘Healthy and Safety’. (More haste more speed more typos).


Hello, brilliant post, thanks.

This is on an unrelated note, but could you possibly turn your typographic skills (as per you Healthy and Safety poster) to some sort of No Junk Mail sticker/sign that won’t offend me every time I look at it, even though it’s stuck to my front door?

I think you would sell LOTS. I will buy several (just to say thanks).


I wish I had the time…….

Wow, the entire American blogosphere / NYC Borough of Brooklyn just got told! But there is a difference between your flat and those in FYNCT: there’s nothing self-congratulatory about your flat, it’s just full of things you love, some of which coincide with hipster taste. Still, the shame you feel for arranging your books by color is an appropriate response.

Deby (in Canada)says:

Bridie is so right about the coral and yes the leaves must go but otherwise Roz is right.
Thanks for so much laughter.

Gary Chasesays:

Love FYNCT! When my business partner and I found it we too laughed until we ached!
Love your new digs ( and your book too!)

Don’t change Ben – a mere reminder to reassess and spring-clean ideas and direction from time to time. Your insight is clear and fresh, honest and fine, keep your faith.
( please withhold website address )


I do have to admit seeing pictures of your flat and thinking I wouldn’t fancy dusting that!! Does this mean the shop and blog are fucked?!…….be happy dusting if that’s what you like, fuck the anti hipster hipsters. Although most of those looks have been pretty done to death.

Every time I walk past a certain office next to Flat Planet and Liberty on Great Malborough Street with a huge display of terrariums I laugh and wonder how no one can have told them about FYNCT’s Terrarium Tuesdays!
It’s brilliant and thank god saved me from making a picture cluster behind the sofa.

Philip Krabbesays:

I didn’t laugh at all – I just didn’tget it! Loved the pictures, well most of them but why fuck so many great ideas and good looking too? Get inspired – do whatever you want and what pleases you.
Well it brought to my attention MORE Eames and Danish design which is not my cup of tea (even I’m from Denmark)
since it seems to be what everybody wants these days – political correctness gets so boring also in interior
decoration – maybe thats what they meant…. I don’t know…

Charlotte Ksays:

Don’t even think of getting rid of those adorable little dogs! I have been having such envy and sorrow that I can’t get to that sale as I am on the other side of the Atlantic!


Thank you so much for making me laugh first thing on Monday morning. A brilliant way for us to see the new flat and gently pulling your own leg! Very Briish, very endearing.

Robert Rowandsays:

Thank you for giving me the OK to say Fuck the raffia cushions at my beach house!


Fuck everything but the wall map. That wall map is brilliant until someone copies it, which I admit I was considering until I read this post and FYNCT.

Yes, I love Unhappy Hipsters too. It’s hilarious – perhaps even more than the f–k site.
I remember, a few years ago, a high-profile Australian stylist said “Ticking fabric was so OVER”! I was mortified. I’d just upholstered my ottomans in a very nice navy stripe. Talk about being slapped in the face by the Aesthetic Rule Book.
Loved reading this post! Just fantastic.


the maps are cool. fuck fuck my nochi table


Thank god for this post! I’ve been trying to get around to arranging stuff like this in my house (I have it all)! for years. And now I don’t have to!!! x


I too have laughed myself silly over FYNCT, but your post is even funnier. And I too find myself in need of the reminder not to succumb so easily to trends – I’m looking at several pairs of antlers as I type! Oh, and i agree with Tokyo Jinja, your wall map is lovely.

Tina Lavellesays:

I must agree about the coral – but not the map wall! Don’t touch the map wall!!!! And if you don’t have a wall cluster how can you display all your favourite art? We don’t all have rambling houses with miles of empty wall space just waiting to be filled.
Hilarious website but I think, if you like something and it makes you happy then it belongs in your home.

I have been laughing over that site for a while, but in the end it has had the reverse effect on me, making me more convinced and determined to hold on to what I like because I like it. I do have to say I’ve had a draft post called something like gallery walls are over – but as soon as something is over, its back in line to be in again. And no one is going to convince me that you should fuck that map wall – amazing and definitely not a cluster – it’s symmetrical if nothing else!

Rebecca Portsmouthsays:

That was hilarious, especially the coral for reasons I don’t understand. Good luck with the de-hipstering.


Ben, You’re humble and you’re a gem. I wouldn’t change one thing about your lovely flat or the OP. If one caves into this kind of subjective, in-your-face critiquing, well then one might as well say “Fuck everything that is special, sentimental, evocative or deeply personal. We are to live for the audience of one and not give a fig about whether we’re “in” or not. You are kind to call the website “tongue-in- cheek”. I find it ugly and prideful.


Ben, thanks for that – I haven’t laughed so much in ages. Though I must admit to
being guilty of some of those aesthetic sins!

I’ve been lurking for a while, but never commented before. First of all, I love your writing, your photos too.
This post made me laugh. Thanks for bringing FYNCT to my attention.

If you like FYNCT then I’m sure you will also enjoy Put that in the Google machine and enjoy.

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