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Art Design Luxury People

Lee Broom + Wedgwood

Breakfast at Harrods

Ever since he started pottering about in 1759, aged 29, Josiah Wedgwood’s surname has been synonymous with feats of clay. Just 11 years later the self proclaimed ‘Vase Maker General to the Universe’ wrote to his business partner Thomas Bentley about a “violent vase madness” afflicting the Anglo Irish aristos. Trust the West British to have a weakness for garniture. Americans have subsequently assumed the mantle.

The last time we dined at Harrods we were plonked on a banquette next to the late Lady Lewisham (aka Raine Spencer) sporting the grandest bouffant since Marie Antoinette. Her Ladyship was promoting Le Grand Atelier. Today it’s breakfast and launch. Generations come and generations go. Now it’s the time of the talented designer Lee Broom to shine. He’s a tastemaker and a man of taste (Kitty Fisher’s is one of his favourite London restaurants).

The stats are impressive. In less than a decade Lee has: released 75 furniture and lighting products under his own label | designed 40 commercial and residential interiors | created 20 products for other brands | opened two eponymous showrooms (London and New York) | won 20 awards including British Designer of the Year 2012 | received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2015. Having collaborated with iconic brands such as Christian Louboutin and Mulberry (he has a fashion degree from Central St Martin’s), it was only natural that Wedgwood would come knocking on his door. He may have products in 120 stores worldwide, but there’s only one Harrods (complete with Wedgwood concession).

In person, Lee is charming and polite. “I was inspired by Wedgwood’s historic black and white Jasperware,” he explains. “It already has a contemporary feel. I’ve taken the classical elements and silhouettes and stripped back the ornamentation for an even more modern look. I love the charcoal colour and biscuit texture of Jasperware which I’ve injected with neon high gloss details!” Priced from £7,500 to £12,000, the bowl and vases are handcrafted in Wedgwood’s Stoke-on-Trent factory. Josiah would approve.

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Architects Architecture Country Houses

The Ned + Little Thakeham House West Sussex

Hudson Sway

Ned is having a moment. The smart money for a hot spring London staycation is on The Ned, bang next door to Trinity House. Carved out of the former Midland Bank HQ and named after its jolly architect Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Landseer Lutyens, the hotel cum member’s club is the latest affair from Soho House complete with spoiling Cowshed spa. Even more exclusive (it’s not open to the public) is Little Thakeham, a very private house by Edwin at the end of a long lane, meandering past vineyards, embedded in the edge of the South Downs.

Since its inception at the turn of two centuries ago, Country Life has provided a weekly dose to the shires of girls in pearls and country house porn. The ultimate double page spread quenching all the quintessentially British desires surely is Little Thakeham ever since it first graced the magazine in 1909. The Arts and Crafts with Elizabethan roots of Country Life owner Edward Hudson’s house Deanery Gardens elopes with the Grand Mannerist Wrenaissance of Country Life’s original offices Hudson House. For once, the gardens aren’t by Ned’s green fingered chum Gertrude Jekyll. The architect designed their structure and the original planting was by his client Ernest Blackburn.

This Free Vernacular meets British Empire marriage organically climaxes in the main reception room (currently a music room). A double height mullioned bay window (recently restored following mini tornado damage) to make Bess of Hardwick proud abuts rustication and half moon pediments keeping up with Inigo Jones. Only a talented architect could pull off such stylistic daring. Little wonder Ned himself proudly called Little Thakeham “the best of the bunch”. A country seat with a country seat: 14 times the size of the average British home. Nine bedrooms. Eight bathrooms. Five reception rooms. One Thakeham Bench. First designed for Little Thakeham, this ubiquitous garden seat design has become synonymous with Sir Edwin Lutyens. Some people are always in fashion.

Categories
Art

Brighton + One

Kind Hearts and Minarets

Categories
Architecture Art Hotels Luxury

The Merrion Hotel Dublin + Paul Henry

Paint the Town Bed

Oh yeah baby. Bring. It. On. It’s the five star hotel with a museum standard art collection. Peter van Lint’s Pool of Bethesda; Sir John Lavery’s Portrait of Eileen Lavery;  Louis le Brocquy’s Woman in White: you name itDublin’s finest. Then some. The one and only Merrion. Lustre between the canals. Architectural Digest raves about it. The Merrion’s frontage is unmistakably Dublin Georgian. Architectural historian Jeremy Musson once observed, “Irish Palladian houses somehow seem more perfect that many of their English contemporaries.” He was referring to country houses but the same could be said of their urban counterparts: Georgian Dublin. A vigorous typology, the pure geometry of their window to brick gaps ratio and half umbrella fanlights reads perfection. Easy to architecturally digest. Step aside inside.

Architectural historian Mark Girouard once observed, “There tends to be something impersonal about English plasterwork of the Adam period; Irish work of the same date, though often less sophisticated, has at its best a certain gaiety and freshness that has survived from the rococo period.” There is nothing staid about stuccadore Robert West’s birds and baskets made from lime and crushed marble. Below the 18th century drawing room plasterwork ceilings, a 21st century social carousel whirls in finite graceful circles. Smashing. Slip away. And so to bed. Yup, 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Colourway inspired by a Paul Henry painting in the staircase hall. Italian Carrara marble bathroom. Got it.

Categories
Hotels Luxury

The Morrison Hotel Dublin + Sparkling Afternoon Tea

Shadows and Highlights

the-morrison-hotel-dublin-afternoon-tea-lavenders-blue-stuart-blakley

All in the name of research, you’ll understand. No really. We – the Delphic Oracle of hospitality – have been asked to nominate candidates for the World Boutique Hotel Awards. The next ceremony is less than eight months away: so little time, so many boutique hotels. Back in the day, or decade (the Nineties), The Morrison in all its monochromatic glory was where it was: It Boys, It Girls*, just it. The lobby cum lounge cum bar cum posing gallery was practically pitch dark and forever echoed to the clamour of clinking glasses and laughter. Dublin liked to party, and there was nowhere better to perch than on the John Rocha cow skins draped across black leather banquettes. A vague utopia of younger dreams. Boom.

Bang. Bust. Boom again. Google Googletown. The Celtic Boomerang Economy. The hangover’s over; Dublin’s back to partying. If you can’t beat them… sparkling afternoon tea for two please. Sparkling company, sparkling conversation and a glass of fizz. In the intervening years, The Morrison has become a DoubleTree by Hilton. Its interior is lighter now and even has – shock, horror! – accents of colour. A splash of fuchsia on the carpet runner; a streak of lavender across the reception desk. Still got it, though.

That familiar flow from savoury to sweet via homemade scones and fresh cream, as calming as the River Liffey framed by great windows open to the south, starts with smoked salmon and lemon butter sandwiches followed by cucumber with cream cheese and chives sandwiches. A trouser stretching diet busting calorie mounting range of miniature puddings completes the pleasure. Blueberry Bakewell tarts | mango and passion fruit panna cotta | lemon drizzle cake | best of all banoffee pie. A table filled with the talk of youth. Innocence and beauty.

*Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, the greatest It Girl since Clara Bow, was beloved by all. Scott’s in Mayfair was one of her favourite haunts. The restaurant famously has only one combined entrance | exit. Tara dined at Scott’s just after she got her nose job. The paparazzi eagerly gathered on Mount Street outside. “Do you think they’re here to photograph my legs?” she laughed, pointing to her rather fine pins.