Founded by June Summerill and Bernadette Bishop, two great friends with a truly effortless and unique sense of style, Summerill & Bishop first opened its doors on 18th May, 1994 in Holland Park, and has remained on the same quiet, leafy corner of Clarendon Cross ever since.
[ S&B back in 1994 ]
Fantastic home cooks and entertainers both, June and Bernadette were frustrated with the offerings at most kitchen and tableware shops at the time, and with the lack of personality and intimacy, so they decided to create one of their own, where beauty and functionality would both be key.
They wrote their business plan together on a notepad, seated at a local cafe, and dreamt up a “happy, inspirational place to be—where people will want to spend comfortable time.” That’s what it quickly became, a place where customers would come into the shop and take a seat at the table to chat with the shop owners and put the world to right.
[ June & Bernadette's original business plan ]
For many years this is where June and Bernadette brought all their far-flung finds for the kitchen, creating the particular aesthetic S&B is known for—warm and slightly rustic, but with a distinctly modern sensibility.
Their flawless style remains the cornerstone of S&B’s ethos to this day.
[ The S&B Sign ]
June and Bernadette took great pleasure knowing that their shop brought people together through the love of food and the tradition of sitting down for a family meal.
Tragically, Bernadette passed away in 2014, and June and her husband Jon, along with Bernadette’s family—her husband John and sons Sandro, Seb and Ollie—were faced with the difficult decision of what to do with the store. After talking to June, and coming into the store and being surrounded by so many memories of Bernadette, Seb took on the role of CEO.
Could the business become a vehicle for more people to experience Bernadette’s and June's effortless style and inspirational way of life?
During that difficult time, Ollie came across Bernadette’s old cookery book in their grandmother's house. Inside was a dedication to their grandmother, signed with Bernadette’s classic flower (also the Meanderings logo), which she drew on all her notes and letters.
This small gesture on Bernadette’s part unwittingly opened up a world of inspiration and a new direction for S&B.
[ Bernadette's Flower from her cookery book ]
To commemorate her passing, S&B trademarked her flower design and designed a beautiful line of linens featuring her signature flower, which launched in Sept 2015.
Happiest surrounded by friends and family around her table, Bernadette might no longer be with us, but her essence continues to be very much alive at all the tables that are graced by her flower tablecloth. S&B continues to produce her collection, and it has turned out to be a true turning point for the shop’s next phase.
Excited by Bernadette’s new flower linens, and inspired by the beautiful, memorable meals June & Bernadette were known for making their family and friends, S&B decided to focus on the tablecloth.
S&B believes that if people take the time to lay the table and present a meal beautifully, they'll enjoy it all the more and create a lasting memory for those who share it with them.
They want to change the way we eat by dressing the table for the occasion, no matter how big or small. They believe that laying the table is an art form that we can all master at home and is one of the simplest ways to tell someone what they mean to you. The table isn't just a place to pass food, you pass tradition, memory, and love, too.
Today, they’ve honed this concept down to the essentials, which they believe begin with the tablecloth—making this tabletop basic fresh, vibrant and exciting again.
[ Some of S&B's latest designs ]
At the London studio in Notting Hill, S&B are busy designing and collaborating with artists, brands and designers on an extensive and evolving line of tablecloths—sophisticated, edgy and timeless—which are presented with each changing season.
The rule is, if they wouldn’t hang it up on the wall as art, it shouldn’t be on the table as a tablecloth.
As they continue to grow the range, put their creativity to the test and seek out the finest fabrics and dyes the world has to offer, they do so inspired by the fact that every time they sell a tablecloth, a family or group of friends will undoubtedly be coming together around the table.
The table is the heart of the home, the place where families share the day-to-day, where big decisions and announcements are made, where those most important to you gather for meals and celebrations.
Whilst some people's success is governed by the bottom line, S&B judge their success on the number of people they bring together around the table. They estimate that in the past five years, close to a quarter of a million people have sat around a table adorned with a Summerill & Bishop tablecloth. A figure that hopefully, honours June & Bernadette's legacy.
The studies show it and of course, we all know by experience, that sitting down for a beautiful family meal has many social benefits. This is why they believe the tablecloth is so important and why they call it,
The Fabric of Life.
[ The S&B shops on Portland Road, W11 ]