Angela Hill and David Owen of IDEA Books

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From Paris, Texas, Wim Wenders/Sam Shepard, 1984
From Paris, Texas, Wim Wenders/Sam Shepard, 1984Courtesy of Road Movies/Greno

Know that feeling when you meet someone who has brilliant taste? Someone who likes exactly the things you like but opens your eyes to new worlds? Idea Books, founded by Angela Hill and David Owens...

Know that feeling when you meet someone who has brilliant taste? Someone who likes exactly the things you like but opens your eyes to new worlds? IDEA Books, founded by Angela Hill and David Owen (Virgo and Sagitarius – a well-rounded astrological match) are just the kind of people who give you that feeling.

Both have a longstanding passion for books and for over ten years have been sourcing brilliant rare finds and building a loyal following of people who love the things they love, including Bruce Weber and Joe McKenna. Stocked in Dover Street Market, their collection includes books and magazines and prints.

Here, the duo speak about their working dynamic, inspirations and their three favourite books of the moment.

How would you describe your working dynamic?
Angela Hill: A speeding autobahn drive to discovery.
David Owen: I am largely responsible for our weekly mailers, website and Instagram. I like writing. Angela takes the risks. She walks into deals we can't afford to make (on paper at least). She approaches people who I might think are out of reach – but, of course, more often than not, they end up as our customers or partners.

How did books play a role in your childhood?
AH: I read a lot. I progressed from pony books and Enid Blyton through school curriculum type authors; Dickens, Graham Greene, Rattigan and then started buying Vogue at a very young age. I still remember the first Vogue I bought and nearly every page in it.
DO: I read the whole of the mobile library, just about every book possible good or bad. I even read film novelisations including gems such as Young Sherlock Holmes and Biggles The Movie. If only I had been looking for punk photobooks or visual histories of nightclubs, I might have got on a bit quicker!

How did Idea Books come about?
AO: A progression really ....I was taking photographs in the 1990s and living in a flat in west London; Sarah from Colette came around to see one of my flatmates one day and suggested selling some of my vintage fashion books in Colette...
DO: Even before we met, both Angela and I would have bought multiple copies of books we liked or thought were important. We just couldn't leave them. We did not become IDEA Books until Angela pitched the idea of a pop-up shop to the St. Martin's Lane Hotel and they agreed – for three months! At that point I was writing TV shows but quit for IDEA Books.

What's the story behind the name?
AH: My daughter thought it up – it is the first name initials of the four of us in our family (Iris, David, Edith, Angela), so we could have called the company DEAI or AIDE or indeed EIDA.
DO: It is also the perfect name in that it somehow suggests what we do, which is largely selling cool books for creative people to work with. Whether it is the ideas in the books or the idea of the books themselves – it is all about ideas.

"I am so into a really particular shade of blue right now – hard to describe; all I can say is there is a certain sky in West Sussex on a cloudless afternoon...and I want Hermès to make me a shirt of it."

What do you look for in a good book?
AH: Amazing images usually; good layout; an influential/inspiring aesthetic.
DO: It is full of people looking amazing.

Can you remember the first book you sold?
AH: Probably American Denim about brilliant 1970s hippy jeans customisation.
DO: When I was about fourteen I used to walk down Albert Road in Southsea, Portsmouth buying books from charity shops which I sold to a second-hand bookshop at the end of the road for a reasonable profit! I used to target modern classics so it was probably Brett Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero (or so I like to think!).

If you were to write a book of fiction, what genre would it be?
AH: A story of a family.
DO: I would write a novel set in 1985 or thereabouts when I, for one, would have been as keen on the Jesus and Mary Chain's first album Psychocandy as I was on the Argos catalogue.

What's inspiring you right now?
AH: I am so into a really particular shade of blue right now – hard to describe; all I can say is there is a certain sky in West Sussex on a cloudless afternoon and it's maybe a sky I've dreamt up and I look up and I want Hermès or Charvet to make me a shirt of this shade.
DO: The Butthole Surfers' I Saw An X-Ray of A Girl Passing Gas.

What are your holy grail items?
AH: Very early Comme des Garçons catalogues; a Gufram exhibition catalogue that comes in a box like a rock called Rock Furniture and a small children's book that was signed and I should never have sold (but I know where it is – so that's kind of okay) and Made in USA magazines (only ever three issues published and all are wonderful).
DO: Honestly, anything we have not seen before – but preferably about 1980s Ibiza!

Your weirdest discovery or most unexpected source?
AH: It's not that weird and the source not unexpected (it was in a bookshop) but I was so pleased to discover and find it – it's a book about Radical Architecture called Architettura Radicale and is a lovely conch shell pink cover small paperback with a drawing of King Kong on the front; it's cute and brilliant.
DO: One of those really brutal looking sex shops on the Eversholt Street beside Euston Station once threw up some great books.

Your three favourite of the moment?
AH: This changes all the time for me; I can be crazy over one book one day then when the new kid on the block arrives I switch allegiance very quickly. I will just say three immediate things... Paris Texas; M.A.S.H (the book of the TV series) and Tina Barney Theater of Manners.
DO: Ku, KIss Me Darling; Skinhead Girl; Elogie del Banale by Barbara Radice (I really need to find this!).

Follow IDEA Books on instagram for regular updates.

Text by Laura Bradley
Coordination by Ellie Grace Cumming