Really New Beginnings

22 September 2013
Ben Pentreath

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.

19 comments on this post


.. have to concur… London is in a class of its own.. the original, industrial city.. wonderful….

Steve Zicksays:

I don’t subscribe to WoI, since the overseas rate is exorbitant, but somehow over the years i’ve still managed to acquire a frightening stack of my own, and every time i try to cull the herd i find at least one article (and sometimes many more than one) in each issue that causes me to re-think the recycling. Sigh. I’m going to need an awfully big coffin.

P & H, Congratulations on your “marriage”—which is, after all (or should be) a coming together of like-minded, complementary souls who bring out the best in each other. Best wishes to the newest born iteration of your conjoined plans, and may your flow of synergy propel you both beyond your wildest dreams!


-PS- as a lettering artist myself, I am totally FLOORED by David Smith’s work! I will share it as soon as possible with fellow members of the Calligraphy Guild of Pittsburgh [PA, USA]!

Margaret Powlingsays:

Not read your blog yet, I will go back and read it all in a moment, but just wanted to say I was delighted to see a copy of House into Home here! I LOVE that book, and indeed it has kick-started several pieces I’ve written on my collection of housekeeping books. And of course, the illustrations are by a very young David Gentleman! Now I will read the blog!
Margaret P


My son visited your shop last week and bought a mochaware mug (blue and white check, lime borders – gorgeous!) for my birthday. He said a nice lady (possibly Bridie?) wrapped it for him in one of their new decorative papers just in the shop. What could be nicer? Thank you and very best wishes for the future.

Gary Chasesays:

Congratulations! Very exciting news, and best to you both!
I had the pleasure of meeting Bridie this week at your beautiful shop and look
forward to my next visit.

John Christophersays:

Congratulations Ben and Bridie, that sounds very exciting tho’ personally I wouldn’t have spaced out “The Bible… > …To Present” in your – I smell a [digital] rat… By the way, ever heard of La Poucheé? Best, John


John you may have a very good point, although I think that was random coincidence! I’ve heard of La Pouchée yes but I don’t know very much about him! When is someone making his typefaces?!

Thank you everyone else for kind words!

Congratulations to you both. Can’t wait to see the new sign, looks like it will be a stunner.

Sue Robinsonsays:

Fab.I can’t wait to visit the new Ben and Bridie shop.

Southern Gal (@sogalitno)says:

fall is always a great time to start … congrats and looking forward to seeing more of the new team!

Congratulations! I very much hope to make it to your shop on a future visit!!

oh the Elizabeth Kendall book ! I think thats the one I would keep taking out of the Central Library in Edinburgh until they eventually retired it as being too old…


Oooo! Congratulations Ben and Bridie! Such exciting things to come!


congrats guys! how exciting!!

Eleanor Villeneuvesays:

I so look forward to your blogs and photos each week, but until the Evening Standard entry, I had no idea that you are also young! And cute!


So so proud and happy for both of you. Can’t wait to come and see it one day… Especially that new sign. Amazing! X

Well done Bridie and Ben can’t wait to watch the two of you grow I know what ever you do will be fantastic and good luck for the future
Mandy and Mike

Deby (in Canada)says:

Ben and Bridie…
Such exciting new beginnings, love the shop name, long may the collaboration continue to amaze! The papers look wonderful- difficult to have a favourite…
Such modesty Ben- leaving the big Evening Standard news until the end, congrats to Bridie on her distinction plus it was lovely to see you on the Friday email of important happenings for London Design Week.

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