In conversation with Lee Clarke, founder of Clarke & Clarke and the new Warner House brand

By Elspeth Pridham
November 12, 2020

Lee Clarke, founder of Clarke & Clarke, launched Warner House this autumn. Here he discusses his latest project, the beauty of Norfolk and his favourite football team

When was the business founded, and why?  

A company with an incredible heritage, Warner was originally founded in 1870 but, over recent years, it had declined from a pioneer of design to virtually becoming non-existent.  

Having worked in interior textiles since 1991, I had always been aware of Warner Fabrics and loved the style. Since selling my previous interiors business Clarke & Clarke in 2016, I’d been looking for another opportunity and Warner came along by chance, which was perfect timing. The Warner name clearly had to stay, so we added House to support the change from being just a fabric supplier into a lifestyle brand with multiple product categories for the home. Warner House launched this autumn 2020. 

Where are you based?  

In Wilmslow, Cheshire in a converted church. 

What is your most significant achievement?  

Proudly building and growing my previous business Clarke & Clarke from nothing in year 2000, into one of the most prominent fabric and interiors brands in the UK. 

What is your favourite possession?  

A video book created for my 50th birthday by my wife & daughterscontaining a collection of precious moments from old family videos, some unseen for years. It brought a tear to all our eyes! 

I’ve just discovered…  

The beauty of the Norfolk coastline. This summer we spent a special week by the sea. A memento of the trip was the pleasure of a morning coffee in a handmade mug (purchased from Made in Cley, in Cley next the Sea) whilst sitting in the garden of an historic seaside house with stunning views of the sea.  

Who inspires me…  

Undoubtedly my wife, Emma. She is such a lovely, encouraging person and like me, passionate about this business. She always provides support and often brings great ideas. The most special person, but incredibly humble at the same time. Without her, there is no way I could have achievethe things I have in life. 

I’ve always been a fan of…  

Blackburn Rovers – I was born there and grew up a few hundred yards from the football ground. Great traditional club, friendly people, amazing history (like Warner).  

And wine! What’s not to love. I have quite a collection now, but have no issue getting through it… 

My highlight of the last 12 months…  

Purchasing Warner for sure and spending the time during Lockdown working on the relaunch plan and selecting designs from our archive and seeing them slowly transformed into the products they are today.  

Where would you like to visit once we are allowed to travel more freely?  

Costa Rica. We visited as a family a few years ago. Incredible country with amazing wildlife. Love the Pura Vida lifestyle, the people and the inspiration it provides for our colours.  

I also miss Proposte in Como, such a stylish location  a business trip, but such a pleasurable one My wife and I loved the boat trip over to Cernobbio from Bellagio each morning and then spending the day looking at fabrics from the worlds greatest producers. What could be better!