15 questions for Tiaan Nagel


15 questions for Tiaan Nagel

These days, the clothing and interior designer and former editor of House and Leisure is a creative director who finds solutions for clients, brands, products and experiences. LAUREEN ROSSOUW asks the questions.


1. Describe yourself in a hashtag.


2. What do you read first thing every morning?

I really struggle to get up early and start the day, so usually it's a bit of a rush to get my nine-year-old son, Raf, to school on time.

After dropping him off, I usually stop at Croft and Co in Parkview, a block from his school, for a bagel and an espresso. I scan through my emails to see what the priorities for the day are. Then I look at Instagram and the important editorials in Daily Maverick.

Now and then I click through a few newsletters (from The Business of Fashion and the Financial Times HTSI lifestyle magazine) before my day really begins.

3. What do you listen to in your car?

I mostly listen to 702 and here and there a podcast. I'm not a big fan of the music on radio stations, so if it's not 702 it's really quiet in the car — except when I'm talking to myself.

When Raf is in the car, he takes over with a tragic playlist of contemporary pop music.

The interior of Nagel's former shop in Hyde Park Corner.
The interior of Nagel's former shop in Hyde Park Corner.

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4. Which international publications do you read regularly?

I love magazines — big/small/monthly/quarterly … I buy and read all of them, cover to cover. I stack them next to my bed, towering them like modern totems in the hallway, much to my wife's dismay. I even read the editorial team index. It's not news that magazines in general are  struggling, but I think it's our duty to try to support these cultural icons as best we can.

I like Wallpaper, Apartamento, The World of Interiors. I love System and special art and design editions like Acne Paper, which I buy at Palais de Tokyo or 7L in St Germain when I'm in Paris. I get a small selection of independent magazines from Antenne Books, print editions that I buy online and have delivered. I like American and British Elle Decor, Vanity Fair and Vogue. I love what Amy Astley is doing with Architectural Digest US — it's commercial, but I think the variety of interiors is beautiful. I read Monocle. I love A Magazine … they get a guest editor for every issue and they are really collector's items.

5. How would you describe your own style?

I have a relatively eclectic style, but overall I like architectural shapes, strong colour and little detail.

I like super-basic items or really special products — I live in basic navy T-shirts from Woolworths and buy packs of them and it works like a uniform for me. I like most Japanese menswear, Yamamoto, Watanabe, Comme Des Garçons — the cuts and cropped proportions usually work better for me, but I have to save for a long time for these items. Anything Dries van Noten … anything! Love Italian shoes like Prada and Marni — I don't wear them every day, but I appreciate them every morning when I walk past them. I live in New Balance sneakers, wear rubber Birkenstocks. Loewe makes the best accessories and men's shoes, I wear my Loewe thick-rimmed glasses every day.

I have had a basic black Comme Des Garçons wallet for the last 20 years … the zip breaks and then I buy a new one, but the absolute simplicity of the item with the pitch-black leather and bright gold zip gives me immense joy every day. I like basic black and red pens from Muji. Love Rick Owens' gold plates to eat from, as well as Jacques (Erasmus) from Hemelhuijs's gold range. I love linen that Ariane Besson once made and sent me, as well as Aesop shampoo and deodorant. I'm not terribly adventurous, but when I find a product that works for me I stick with it for a long time.

6. When did you realise that you wanted to get involved in the fashion and decor world?

Not so sure if it was ever really a decision. I've always been creative and have always drawn. I won a fashion design scholarship when I was in my last year of school and things just moved there so naturally. During my studies, I helped magazines with styling and ended up slightly in decor. The worlds of fashion and decor are so intertwined and the exposure of the people who worked in those industries was always something of everything at once.

7. What kind of child were you?

I asked my mom and she WhatsApped this:

“You knew exactly what you wanted. You would always make a plan to get it right. You have asked questions since childhood and then challenged them many times. You were always drawing and always reading. You didn't skip a day of school. You like to sleep five minutes later." In one sentence she says: “You knew yourself."

8. Your favourite international fashion designers?

At the moment I love the work Jonathan Anderson is doing for both Loewe and JW Anderson.

I love Cristóbal Balenciaga's original round, architectural shapes.

Yves Saint Laurent for his sublime interiors. Rue de Babylone is one of my favourite places.

I think Rick Owens is a great example of a creative person who changes everything through his lens. His interiors, homeware, clothes — undiluted point of view. I think it's remarkable.

I also love Gabriel Hendifar from Apparatus studio's undiluted point of view.

I love everything Matthieu Blazy is doing for Bottega Veneta at the moment — ​​sublime!

9. What can't you live without?

My phone. It has all my photos of my wife, Joanette, and of Raf, and I have it with me every moment.

I can't live without good food and friends.

I don't drink but am slightly obsessed with Diet Coke.

My feather pillow and Frette linen.

And all the amazing art/decor/fashion books I've collected over the years.

10. If you could choose any painting, what would it be?

I will not be able to answer this. It's just too radical. It will be between a small, crimson slash painting by Lucio Fontana, a bronze and marble Brâncuși sculpture, something long and upright, or a super large scribble work by Cy Twombly.

11. Who and what inspires you?

My beautiful wife.

12. What are you afraid of?

Lots of things!

That I won't have enough time with my family and to see my son grow up.

Johannesburg at the moment scares me, because it feels like it is slowly but surely going to give way and collapse. The place is really at breaking point.

That I can't do everything I want to get to.

It scares me that I'm not sure what the world will look like for Raf and how I can protect him from it/help him with it.

13.Your guilty pleasure? 

I look at America’s Got Talent repeats on YouTube while I work, or convince myself I can only work once I've discovered the perfect playlist for the job.

To get me in the working mood I must have a good candle by my side; my favourite is from Cire Trudon. I also usually prefer to turn my paper horizontally and write like that. I work better this way, I persuaded myself.

14. If you could invite three people to dinner, living or deceased, who would they be?

Dries van Noten — I want to talk about his garden and how he approaches colour.

Alber Elbaz — I have a few questions about Lanvin and his time there, as well as how he approaches the construction: everything was light and yet dramatic.

Diana Vreeland — I would like to talk about that red room.

15. Your favourite perfume?

Like art, it's really difficult — it creates such a visceral experience that it's tricky.

I love Comme Des Garçons' Rouge at the moment. Slightly obsessed with the intense fiery floral.

♦ VWB ♦

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