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The 44-year-old son of the late Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden is a born designer. When he's not building the perfect object or machine, you can bet he's riding it — or wearing it.
"Controlling the design of an everyday object is very satisfying," Linley said over a cup of tea at his new store on Albemarle Street, which he opened last month to mark his 20th anniversary in the business.
"I must have made 20 different bicycles in my life; bicycle parts are like works of art in miniature. My latest creation was ‘a motorbike for the city.' I made an urban-looking bicycle that could stand up to potholes. Of course, it was stolen instantly — proof of the genius of its design," he adds dryly.
He now rides to work on a fold-up bicycle, which is so compact he can drop it at a coat check.
Linley collects vintage cars and watches (today he's wearing a Seventies Montine), and is designing a Triumph motorbike, with the help of a mechanic friend, right down to the fuel tank and the number plate. In his spare time, he makes model airplanes with his six-year-old son, Charles.
When Linley's not working with his hands, he's pushing his business, known simply as Linley, in new directions. Indeed, after two decades, he feels his company has only just begun to hit its stride.
"We have no plans to fritter this moment away. We want to widen our appeal, make the designs more accessible and give customers value for money," said Linley, whose signature is wooden furniture with marquetry, the 17th-century decorative technique featuring thin layers of different-colored woods.
His furniture and objects have a classical feel. One of his latest designs is a detailed reproduction of the last chair Lord Admiral Nelson ever sat in. He made the chair in cooperation with England's National Maritime Museum, and on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Nelson's victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in October.
He's also famous for his quirky touches. Linley's writing desks all boast secret compartments and his jewelry boxes feature inlaid leopard and zebra prints. Thanks to a cheeky sense of humor, he crafted wooden dice for rearview mirrors, made of Makassar ebony, with white leather spots. His wooden doorstops are shaped like wedges of Swiss cheese and his key chains boast built-in compasses.