William Lobb is director of one of the world’s most venerated shoe makers. In the same way that chairs, at their best, can concentrate the architectural impulse into one sculptural artefact, the shoe can express something quintessential about the whole expression of dressing and the body. It is easy to see why both may become objects of obsession and sensuality. John Lobb Bootmaker has an extraordinary 150 year history: the current London Headquarters has been described as “the most beautiful shop in the world” despite having been destroyed by bombs no less than six times during the Blitz. The workshops and last library below ground bear testament to a level of craft and care which is vanishingly rare today. With a client list peppered with international royalty, iconic actors, artists, writers and connoisseurs of the luxurious, maintaining stellar levels of quality is a given.
William Lobb carries the not inconsiderable responsibility of a tradition which manages to persist despite the passing vagaries of fashion and economics.
What is your favourite surface?
Wood, I like the natural grain and the ease with which it can be shaped and sanded and finished in different ways. I have always liked working with wood whilst growing up with various carpentry projects and now in my working life making wooden lasts (the forms upon which we make our shoes).
In what weather do you think best and why?
I haven’t noticed the weather affect my thinking. I like to have a quiet place to concentrate at times.
Describe your favourite meal?
A good joint of lamb always makes me happy.
What qualities do you most admire in an object?
I am particularly impressed by objects that are beautiful to look at and have been created by a large amount of hand work which has taken a great deal of skill and time to master. Such us a pair of our shoes!
What is your first olfactory memory?
My mother told me that when I was born we lived in a basement flat in Kensington and that I seemed to thrive on the car fumes!
What fictitious place would you most like to visit?
I always liked the idea of finding some kind of paradise in the centre of the earth.
Heaven also sounds like a good place!
What do you like the smell of?
Ground coffee. I’m sure this must be a popular one.
Recount your last remembered dream?
I find it hard enough to remember things whilst I am awake and dreams don’t seem to stay with me.
How should a table sound?
The less sound it makes the better! Strong, well-built and elegant would be best.
What piece of art would you most like to live with?
The world’s largest diamond would be good to look at every day.
Which sense disturbs you most frequently?
Sight – seeing things being done in ways which I find inappropriate seems to be a very common one.
Which sense would you miss the most?
Sight is extremely important. I would find that very hard to live without.
What song or piece of music best expresses your mood today?
I find that rather difficult to answer. I like to listen to music as a means of relaxation and enjoyment. Actually matching it to my mood whilst filling out this questionnaire….. I can’t place that. A light hearted piece would work well.
What is your favourite view from any window?
When I get home and look out of our conservatory window into our garden I enjoy this view. It is not the best view in the world but I enjoy seeing the garden and the way it changes with the seasons (and the work that needs to be done!).