To the Lighthouse


The remote Trevose Head in Cornwall is the source of countless personal memories for Adam Brown of Orlebar Brown...

In Issue 12




Adam Brown, founder of fashion brand Orlebar Brown, on the secret, remote Cornish headland that he likes to enjoy on his own terms…

A ‘hole-and-corner’ is an old English term meaning a secret place: somewhere you go to escape, to be inspired, to contemplate and create. Where is your ‘hole-and-corner’?
It has to be Trevose Head, an exposed, isolated headland in North Cornwall that has views for miles, wild rocks on both sides with crashing waves, beating winds, a lighthouse, a lifeguard station, two adjoining coastguard’s houses and a steep cliff-top walk to the most fabulous surfing beaches. The tip of the headland is accessible down a narrow dry-stone walled lane – if you go out of season it is really very secret, totally remote – and my place. 

Why it is so special to you?
My grandmother used to rent one of the two coastguard’s cottages there every summer and Easter – it is the one place in my life that has been a constant for the past 45 years and more. Obviously the setting is amazing, but it is more about the spirit of the place. I can remember every phase of my life through Trevose Head. On every walk, every rock, I can remember something or identify with how I was feeling at specific times. Family holidays, friends staying, relationships beginning and finished, cars crashed, dogs walked, dogs lost, sunburn or windburn, rows had, sweaty sandwiches, barbecues, picnics and evening drinks, morning swims, drunken skinny dips, ashes spread… I have drawn it, photographed it, received exam results on it, formulated and written plans on it. It is just crammed full of memories that are totally unique to me.

Is it important to you to have somewhere to escape from the hustle and bustle of life?
That’s not so important for me – home does that. But it is important for me to have somewhere I really identify with. Somewhere you feel you spiritually belong. So much of my life is transient, it is great to have one place that gives my life some context and measurement.

What do you like to listen to when you’re working?
It is never really music, but I like the sound of wind, rain, waves – even a fan. I find silence difficult.

What elements do you think make a perfect ‘hole-and-corner’?
The perfect hole-and-corner is something that is stimulating but ultimately quiet for me. Relaxation is not about lying down with my eyes shut but rather being somewhere away from the stresses of a normal day – but that also appeals to any number of senses or emotions. It is also about having space and time to think, plan and dream.

Is it private to you or do you let other people visit?
People can definitely visit my ‘hole-and-corner’, but it is something I would probably want them to experience on my terms. Friends (and therapists!) might say there’s no change on that front!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I remember a rather patronising tutor reprimanding me that if I ‘fail to plan, I plan to fail’. Bland but ultimately true – as I did go on to fail pretty much all my exams I am now paranoid about planning! The other advice, weirdly, comes from Colonel Sanders of KFC fame: ‘There is no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery. You can’t do any business there.’ Not so much advice but a checking mechanism for me as to how I judge and evaluate success.

What’s your favourite journey?
It has to be what I have gone through over the past 10 years with Orlebar Brown. However, there is also the reassuringly familiar journey down to Cornwall from London. I know where the difficult corners are, where we will probably get stuck in traffic and when the landscape starts to open out… And in particular that sense when the dogs start getting excited because they smell where they are. It is predictable, but it also has a happiness that makes the journey complete.