Dylan Jones: If you ask me

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The Independent Online

If you ask me Paul Smith's furniture shop in Albemarle Street is potentially the most dangerous shop in London. Especially after lunch. And especially after two glasses of wine. Or, on that very rare occasion, usually sometime during August, possibly three.

Now, normally, I am forbidden to buy furniture, primarily because my wife says I always buy the wrong thing, and, although I'm loathe to admit it, she's sort of right. I once bought a Polynesian fish trap (sober) from the Conran Shop, just because it was big. And relatively cheap. And my Matthew Hilton glass coffee table, complete with steel shark fins as legs, has been propped up in a wardrobe for years. I'm allowed to buy art, but even my wife is better at this than I am – when she rang me from a dealer's a few years ago to ask if I wanted a Banksy for Christmas, I said I'd rather have a case of wine. For years my favourite painting was Tretchikoff's Green Lady, although whenever I ask my wife where she's hidden it, she pretends not to remember.

But occasionally I have an attack of good taste, and when I do it's usually as I'm walking back from Le Caprice after a decent lunch, and then deciding to go and buy something in Paul Smith's shop. And before you raise your eyebrows and start whispering sweet malevolent nothings under your breath, this isn't one of those typical designer "home" shops, where you'll usually find a sea of sofas, cushions, "difficult" chairs and unbelievably expensive throws covered in a signature (ie outdated) print.

No, Smithy's shop is an Aladdin's Cave of wonderfulness. "Never assume anything" is his company motto, and – like his book of a few years ago, You Can Find Inspiration in Everything* (*and if you can't, look again) – this shop exemplifies that, being more of a post-modern Victorian emporium of the eccentric, the chic and the bizarre. Just last month I found a poster of a Man Ray exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from 1966. And guess what? My wife even likes it.

Here in deepest, darkest Mayfair you'll find art, antiques, jewellery and curiosities sourced from round the world – many of which tell you why, for the past 55 years, Paul Smith has been a fully paid-up member of the Dennis the Menace fan club.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

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