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Min Hogg + The Seaweed Collection of Wallpapers + Fabrics

Finding Material

Min Hogg The World of Interiors Founder © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“It’s sort of feeble really,” says Min Hogg. “Open the property section of any newspaper and you’ll see page after page of boring beige interiors. I blame technology. People just want to switch on this and that but can’t be bothered to look at things like furniture and paintings.” Her own flat is neither boring nor beige. Quite the opposite. It’s brimming with antiques and art and personality. And magazines. “The red bound copies on my shelves are from when I was Editor. The loose copies in boxes are all the subsequent issues.” Min was, of course, founding Editor of the highly influential magazine The World of Interiors.

Min Hogg The World of Interiors Founder Home Garden Brompton Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“My mum would have made a brilliant Editor but she was awfully lazy,” confides Min. “She always made our houses really nice without any training, none of that, she just did it. She was a great decorator. You bet! So was my grandmother.” Min’s first plum role was as Fashion Editor of Harpers and Queen. Anna Wintour, who would later famously edit American Vogue, was her assistant. “We hated each other!” Min recalls, her sapphire blue eyes twinkling mischievously. “I was taken on by Harpers and Queen over her. She really knew I wasn’t as utterly dedicated to fashion as she was. By no means!” Nevertheless, Anna was the first to leave.

Min Hogg The World of Interiors Founder Home Brompton Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Thank goodness then for an ad in The Times for “Editor of an international arts magazine” which Min retrieved from her bin. She applied and the rest is publishing history. The World of Interiors was a roaring success from day one, year 1981. “I submitted a three line CV,” she laughs. “I didn’t want to bore Kevin Kelly the publisher with A Levels and so on!” It didn’t stop her being selected out of 70 candidates. “I sort of knew I’d got the job. I ended up having dinner with his wife and him that night. I think probably of all the people who applied, I was already such friends with millions of decorators. Just friends, not that I was doing them any good or anything, I just knew them because we were likeminded.”

Studying Furniture and Interior Design at the Central Art College must have helped. “Well it was too soon after the Festival of Britain and I really didn’t get it. The only person who taught anything was Terence Conran. He was only about a year older than any of us actually. But you could tell he wasn’t into Festival of Britain furniture either which, I’m sorry, I don’t like and never did.”

“Come and have a look at the view from the kitchen, it’s really good,” says Min stopping momentarily. “It’s like living opposite the Vatican,” pointing to the plump dome of Brompton Oratory. Back in her sitting room, the view is of treetops over a garden square, a plumped up cushion’s throw from Harrods. As for choosing an interior to publish, “If I liked it, I’d do it. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t! I came to the job with this huge backlog of interior ideas. We never finished using them all. I’m blessed with a jolly broad spectrum of vision, and as you can see, although I’m not a modernist I can appreciate modernism when it’s good. I don’t like Art Nouveau either but I can get the point of a really good example of anything.”

Appropriately Min’s top floor which she bought in 1975 looks like a spread from The World of Interiors. “I don’t decorate, I just put things together. I’m a collector,” she confesses. Eclectically elegant, somehow everything fits together just so. “John Fowler was an innovator. He was frightfully clever.” So is Min. She laments the disappearance of antique shops. And junk shops. “London used to be stuffed with junk shops. Now it’s seaside towns like Bridport and Margate that have all the antique shops. There’s nothing left in London. Just the few grand ones.” Interiors may be her “addiction” but Min is interested in all art forms. She’s been an active member of the Irish Georgian Society ever since it was founded by her friends Desmond and Mariga Guinness. “I love the plasterwork of Irish country houses,” she relates, “Castletown’s a favourite.”

Min Hogg The World of Interiors Founder Address Brompton Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

With her vivacity and an email address list to die for, it’s little wonder Min’s parties are legendary. She even makes a fun filled appearance in Rupert Everett’s autobiography. But it’s not all play between her Kensington flat and second home in the Canaries. She’s still Editor at Large of The World of Interiors. Plus a few years ago she launched the Min Hogg Seaweed Collection of Wallpapers and Fabrics. It began with Nicky Haslam telling her: “I need a wallpaper for an Irish house I’m decorating. You know about colour and design.” So Nicky gave Min an 18th century portfolio of botanical seaweed prints for inspiration and off she went.

Min Hogg The World of Interiors Founder Seaweed Collection Wallpapers © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Mike Tighe, the former Art Director of The World of Interiors, joined me,” she explains. “For me it was a physical thing, cutting out paper patterns by hand. Mike did all the computer work. I learnt to do a repeat and everything else. It’s funny how you can learn something if you’re interested. By pure luck the finished result looks like hand blocked wallpaper. If someone gives us a colour we can match it. I like changing the scale too from teeny to enormous.” It’s a versatile collection, printed on the finest papers, cottons, linens and velvets. Prominent American interior designers like Stephen Sills love it. The collection may be found in a world of interiors from a Hawaiian villa to a St Petersburg palace. But not in any boring beige homes.

Min Hogg The World of Interiors Founder Seaweed Collection Fabrics © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Architecture Hotels Luxury People Restaurants

Rare Champagne + La Dame de Pic Four Seasons Hotel 10 Trinity Square London

Lotto and Cavagnole and Faro and Lansquenet

Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square Tower Hill London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Writing in Edwardian Architecture, Alastair Service describes the host building and its place in the architectural lexicon: “The commission for the Port of London Authority building was won in a competition of 1912 by Edwin Cooper (1873 to 1942), who had recently started a personal practice after working in a series of partnerships. Cooper’s success in the competition of 1911 for the St Marylebone Town Hall was, however, more significant for the future. Reviewing the entries for the competition, the editor of one architectural magazine wrote, ‘We cannot help asking ourselves whether all these colossal columns, domes, towers, groups of sculpture and other imposing features are felt by their authors to be the only natural and inevitable expression of the necessities of the case.’

Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Such criticism of extravagant building was in harmony with general feeling at the time. And the St Marylebone Town Hall built to Cooper’s designs shows a greatly simplified use of Classicism, emphasising the volumes in Holden’s [architect Charles Holden] way, rather than creating broken Baroque outlines encrusted in sculpture. The mention of Holden’s name is no coincidence. More than anyone else, it was his work that bridged the gap between the attempts at a Free Style and the varieties of Edwardian Classicism.”

Entrance La Dame de Pic Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The streamlined architecture of Marylebone Town Hall (long deprived of its sainthood), as Alastair Service observes, is more in keeping with a modern sensibility but the bombastic brilliance of Edwin Cooper’s portico is well suited to a Four Seasons flag. It mightn’t have been purpose built, but if those two other bastions of Beaux Arts architecture (The RAC Club and The Ritz) can be beacons of high end hospitality, why not the Port of London Authority building?

Column Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

La Dame de Pic restaurant is at the end of a short corridor off a vast domed rotunda lounge in the heart of the Four Seasons Hotel. It’s Anne-Sophie Pic’s first foray into the UK. She is the world’s most decorated female Michelin starred chef. Her third generation three Michelin star family owned restaurant is in Drôme; she also has restaurants in Lausanne, Paris and Singapore. Anne-Sophie says, “I know there is no feminine or masculine cuisine but my cuisine is very feminine because I put a lot of intuition, my feelings, into it.” Head Chef Luca Piscazzi brings these feelings to fruition.

Statue Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

White truffle – it’s in high season – is flaked over the cheese and mushroom gnocchi starter. Acquerello risotto main course is flavoured with pumpkin, bergamot and Yellow Bourbon coffee. Poached pear infused with sansho and ginger is decorated with argousier honey and beeswax. Each course is an adventurous fusion of taste and an avantgarde work of art. Unsurprisingly, the restaurant had barely opened before it snapped up a Michelin star. A second followed in hot pursuit.

Entrance Hall La Dame de Pic Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Fresco Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Lantern La Dame de Pic Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Flowers La Dame de Pic Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Butter La Dame de Pic Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Bread La Dame de Pic Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Mushroom La Dame de Pic Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Chantilly La Dame de Pic Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square may be quite close to the Tower of London and very close toSamuel Wyatt’s Trinity House but its immediate environs are surprisingly discreet. That doesn’t stop the 80 cover dining room being full on a midweek lunchtime. The interior is all about spare luxury. White walls and a tiled dado under a mirrored strip matching mirrored columns are softened by leather banquettes and a cluster of snugs below a central gigantic Chinese lantern.

Petit Fours La Dame de Pic Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

La Dame de Pic has joined an exclusive set of shops and restaurants in London stocking Rare Champagne. Nicolas Marzolf of Liberty Wines is the UK and Ireland Brand Manager of Piper-Heidsieck and Rare Champagne. While Piper-Heidsieck Champagne is Pino Noir dominant, Rare Champagne is 30 percent Pinot Noir and 70 percent Chardonnay. “Liberty Wines have a warehouse in Clapham,” he explains, “so an order placed by 3am can have a same day delivery by noon.” Harrods, Hedonism and Selfridges are shops selling Rare Champagne. It’s served in Core by Clare Smyth, Claridge’s, Scott’s and Sexy Fish restaurants.

Rare Champagne La Dame de Pic Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The two vintages available at La Dame de Pic are Blanc 2006 and Rosé 2008. “These are two very different Rare Champagnes,” notes Nicolas. “The year 2006 was warm – winter was pretty mild and there was a summer heatwave. You can see the fullness of the sun in the ripe fruit taste. The year 2008 was cold which resulted in a very delicate cuvée – graceful and not too full bodied. You always have the same aftertaste in all our Rare vintage: duality of warmth and minerality.”

Rare Champagne © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

He continues, “The noble origin of Rare Champagne dates back to a presentation to Marie Antoinette and expresses its revolutionary spirit against the trivialization of vintages. Over the last four decades, Rare Champagne has declared only 11 vintages. The tiara adorning the precious bottle features the triumphant vine prevailing over the whims of weather. The bottle design, called Pinte Majeure, is asymmetrical as it was originally mouthblown.” Today, the soft curves of the design pay tribute to Marie Antoinette, thelast Queen of France and the first modern icon, renowned for her ability to set new standards.

Nicolas Marzolf and Jan Konetzki La Dame de Pic Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“This is about more than just drinking Champagne,” relates Nicolas. “We are launching a luxury brand in the UK and Ireland. A luxury lifestyle – the Champagne experience. It’s about having nice glasses, nice places. The luxury way to entertain. And La Dame de Pic is the perfect place to enjoy Rare Champagne!” The celebrated sommelier Jan Konetzki, Director of Wine at Four Seasons, adds, “Rare Champagne is a great partner with La Dame de Pic’s food.”

Rotunda Bar La Dame de Pic Four Seasons at 10 Trinity Square London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Design Hotels Luxury People Restaurants

Galeries Lafayette Haussmann + Angélina Restaurant Paris

A Tale of Two Citizens

The Ritz Hotel Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” Gore Vidal

Place Vendôme Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Midday in Paris. Printemps is the Harrods of Paris | Le Bon Marché is the Liberty of Paris | Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is the Selfridges of Paris. We’re bound for Lafayette’s Angélina restaurant. In the ultimate BYO experience, we’ve brought our own Champagne. Rare Champagne 2002 and Rare Rosé Champagne 2007, no less. It helps that we’re lunching with Régis Camus, the world’s most decorated Chef de Cave, even more no less. Over oeufs brouillés à la brisure de truffe d’été (scrambled eggs with summer truffle breakings) and salade de saumon fume, chèvre frais, avocat, tomates grappes, pomélo, salade romaine (smoked salmon salad, fresh goat’s cheese, avocado, tomatoes on the vine, grapefruit, romaine lettuce), Régis shares his top tips for enjoying bottled glamour:

Le Meurice Hotel Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Rare Le Secret Champagne in House of Mellerio Paris © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

  • “Temperature is first. It should be between 10 and 12 degrees centigrade for our Rosé and 12 to 14 degrees for Rare Le Secret Champagne.
  • The glass is very important: it is good for wine to be poured in a big glass to express itself. A small quantity in a big glass; 65 percent full maximum. Serve often to keep the perfect temperature.
  • Open the bottle delicately. Don’t turn the cap, turn the bottle.
  • The colour of all wines is either good or not. For example, rosé is not good if it is the colour of onion skin. The amazing colour of Rare Rosé Champagne 2007 has amber and copper tones. I was inspired by the stained glass windows of the Cathedral of Reims when the sun shines through. The Cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Reims and is where the Kings of France were crowned.”

Rare Champagne Lunch © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Successful Champagne moments are more than mere formulae though. “Feel the joy of the colour with your eyes, the colour of life! It’s vibrant, radiant, expressive! The key is to create pleasure, to discover the smile in discovering Champagne.” Monsieur Camus props the House of Lavender’s Blue brochure on the lunch table to form a backdrop to the Rare Rosé Champagne bottle. The following day, another bottle of Rare Champagne 2002 will take pride of place in the House of Lavender’s Blue itself. After lunch at Angélina, we stroll along the golden streets past the Palais Garnier with all its ghosts, making our way through Place Vendôme, gazing at The Ritz and grazing at Hôtel Le Meurice. It’s time to roar again. Ouhouah!

Rare Champagne Box @ Lavender's Blue © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“When she was young, Loulou wanted action and fun all the time… she was in a hurry.” Eric Boman on Loulou de la Falaise

Rare Champagne @ Lavender's Blue © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Architecture Art Design Fashion Hotels Luxury People

Rare Le Secret Champagne + Expérience Paris

A Revolutionary Idea

Possibly the best excuse ever to visit Paris, France. Rare Champagne, the multiple award winning Champagne, and Mellerio, the oldest jewellery dynasty in the world (founded in the 16th century), have combined their exceptional talents, refined excellence and muse affinity to create a truly prestigious treasure. Rare Le Secret High Jewellery is an exclusive cuvée from the Champagne House of Rare in a bottle decorated by French jewellers Mellerio. Customers are invited to have the decoration of the bottle transformed into a bespoke piece of jewellery by Creative Director Laure-Isabelle Mellerio once its contents have been consumed.

A bottle of Rare Le Secret High Jewellery decorated with a diamond is priced $170,000 or with a ruby, emerald or sapphire, $150,000. Out of 10 bottles worldwide, there are now just three available in Harrods London, one in Takashimaya Tokyo, one in Galleries Lafayette Haussmann Paris and one in the US through the Rare Champagne Ambassador Jonathan Boulangeat and Kyle Kaplan. American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson reckoned, “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” Even better, a walk about Paris en route to the studio of Mellerio will provide a lesson in luxury.

The story began in 1997 when Régis Camus, Rare Champagne Chef de Cave, had an epiphanic moment. He realized there was something special in the sparkling wines of that year and rather than declaring a vintage, he blended a small quantity of this cuvée behind closed doors, secretly ageing it in magnums. Now, 21 years later, the results are extraordinary. Régis’ personal creation has a rare depth and rich complexity, hitting lively citrus highlights while delivering tranquil notes.

This sophisticated finesse, a zenith of Champagne production, launched the collaboration between tastemakers Rare Champagne and Mellerio. “Marie-Antoinette is a natural link between our maisons,” explains Laure-Isabelle. Their shared royal patronage dates from 1780 when the Queen of France acquired a Mellerio bracelet formed of seven Ancient Roman cameos enriched with garnets. The bracelet is now on display in Mellerio’s showroom. She smiles: “Mellerio brought glamour to the Court!” Records show all the Queens of 19th century Europe bought the House’s jewellery. Ever the sybarite, Her Majesty would enjoy her first taste of Rare Champagne a few years later.

Laure-Isabelle suggests, “The refined world of Rare Champagne instantly guided my hand.” Her design for Rare Le Secret High Jewellery takes inspiration from Marie Antoinette’s extravagantly silhouetted dresses. It features a single precious jewel of at least one carat embedded in a heart of interwoven gold bands set with 510 diamonds. The gold and platinum threads swirling down the bottle, reminiscent of the flow and structure of haute couture, represent the blend of Chardonnay minerality and Pinot Noir intensity. The 24 carat solid gold muselet cap is a first, even for Champagne! The enigmatic matt black presentation box with its silver mirrored interior resembles the cases of jewellery presented to Marie Antoinette. Indeed, it resembles a Versailles salon in miniature.

A second design has also been created. The classic simplicity of a gold cartouche is reflected in the golden mirrored interior of its majestic case. Inside each bottle is the same blend of Rare Champagne. The Rare Le Secret Goldsmith is a limited edition of 1,000 numbered and engraved magnums. It is priced at $2,000. In New York, this edition is available in Baccarat, Sherry Lehmann and Sotheby’s. Harrods London also stocks Rare Le Secret Goldsmith.

Rare Le Secret is perfect to enjoy right away,” explains Régis, “and will still be at optimum quality until 2021.” It goes well with scallop carpaccio, hot oysters, and truffle risotto. Nose, palate and view are three ways to describe bubbly. So what’s the verdict from the House of Rare? Nose: subtle salty and mineral notes with aromas of liquorice, candied tropical fruit and bergamot are followed by dried fruit and powdery floral notes. Palate: after a lively attack of Menton lemon and citrus fruits, nuances of fresh apricot, vetiver and verbena express a serene minerality. Hints of acacia honey and incense develop an oriental and smoky vinosity and ethereal finish. View: dazzling. Graceful bubbles rise in beautiful ribbons and produce a delicate sparkle.

Régis calls it “the secret within Le Secret”. That is, the transformation of something precious to drink into something precious to wear. A private visit to Maison Mellerio will allow Laure-Isabelle to turn Rare Le Secret High Jewellery’s bottle adornment into a brooch, bracelet or pendent. It’s the ultimate multisensory journey from cellar to atelier. The House of Mellerio is on Rue de la Paix, the most prestigious shopping area in the city’s Second Arrondissement. It’s between the First Arrondissement (Tuileries) and the Ninth (Lafayette). “Mellerio has been at this address for almost two centuries now. We were the first luxury goods company to open on Rue de la Paix. Cartier arrived relatively recently in 1898!” relates Mellerio’s Director of Communications Diane-Sophie Lanselle. Five star glitz of The Ritz, Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme and Le Meurice is mere seconds away along this stretch of the River Seine.

Galignani, the first English bookshop to be established on the European Continent, is nearby. “It’s the Hatchards of Paris,” says Directrice Générale Danielle Cillien Sabtier referring to London’s finest bookshop. “The concept is a space for encounters and cultural exchanges.” The bookshop is on Rue de Rivoli set behind an arched stone colonnade. So Haussmann, so Parisian. In the 19th century, William Thackeray was a regular customer. Last century, Ernest Hemingway enjoyed its reading room. This century, Karl Lagerfeld is a fan. Mr Thackeray called Galignani, “The exile’s best friend.” Is it Rare Champagne-o’clock again? To repeat, possibly the best excuse ever to visit Paris, France.

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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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Architecture Design Hotels Luxury People

Merchant Taylors’ Hall City of London + The World Boutique Hotel Awards

Guild Secrets 

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Tonight’s the night! We’re down at the seat of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors, one of the 12 Great Livery Companies of the City of London. This medieval guildhall, protected from the proletariat by a cloistered courtyard overlooked only by the neon glory of 99 Bishopsgate, endows picturesque scenery on the international awards ceremony celebrating brilliance in luxury boutique hotels and villas. It’s the gala evening, the very grandest of City Livery dinners. The jetset have flown into town. We’re so excited we just can’t hide it! We just can’t get enough:

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Select industry players, 200 of us, are black tied and white laced and ball gowned, ready for pleasures in the night. An enigmatic entrance off Threadneedle Street, a discreet doorway to decadence, leads into a long hallway lined with old masters of old masters and deadly 15th century hearse cloths illuminated by Grecian sconces. A vaulted gallery spills into the floodlit garden and flows into the great hall, its beauty blurred by the suffusing warmth of a thousand candles. The architecture is a highbred of Queens: Elizabeth, Anne, Mary and Elizabeth again.

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“Be amazing!” declares guest speaker Tim Dingle. “If you want to be successful you can genuinely change the world. Don’t survive, thrive!” The awards recognise an academy of excellence amidst these suitably collegiate surroundings. “Liking your blog very much by the way,” says Mercedes Alonso. Scarlet Bray agrees. Wallpaper*, Elite Traveller, Spear’s Magazine, The Financial Times and The Telegraph: everyone is here. Clare Island Lighthouse, a clifftop six roomed hotel, scoops a prize, adding prestige to our emerald isle. Barry and Roie McCann are thrilled!

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Echo Valley? Echo Valley? Norm and Nan Dove’s British Columbian ranch is amazing. Cowboy hats at dawn. Summertime in Goa, an exclusive use hilltop villa, wins Asia’s Most Romantic Retreat. Actually Asia features heavily. Our Man in India Alfred Tuinman is pleased. So is Suzanne Vertillart Chayavichitsilp. Africa is big this year. We’re dreaming of being washed ashore to Sea Monkey Villa, Mahé Island. Lovely to meet Christabel Milbanke-Brayson. Lyton and Eroline Lamontagne look resplendent.

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There’s at least one UK winner: Hotel Gotham in Manchester gets the vote for World’s Best New Hotel. The top prize for World’s Best Boutique Hotel goes to Secret Bay Hotel, Dominica. All the hotels and private villas, the finest on earth no less, are illustrated in a glossy book, a coffee table essential. Sponsor Elisabeth Visoanska’s synergistic products mean we’ll all be looking particularly fresh for the next while. The Parisian cosmetician believes, “Preserving one’s youthfulness does not mean stopping the course of time; it means living life with continually growing passion.” We’d like to propose our own toast to Most Fun Boutique Hotel Reception Staff. And the winner we know, we know, we know is… The Capital (on Basil Street, a ruby’s throw from both Harrods and Harvey Nics). Sweet memories.

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Design Luxury People

Luxury Living Group London + Alberto Vignatelli

And So To Bed

Luxury Living Group Bentley Bed @ Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

There are parties and there’s the not so laboured or conservative but very liberal London launch of Luxury Living an equidistant plumped up embossed cushion’s throw from Harrods and Harvey Nics and Hyde Park and Harriet Walk and heaven. It’s the local shop for One Hyde Park. Being Knightsbridge that means a treasure filled palazzo. Limos stretching, (thick pile country pile) scarlet carpet calling, ropes a riposte to the common people segretating, champers flowing, rich doors opening, (the world’s your) oysters on tap. What’s not to adore? You know you’ve landed when even the bidet is solid gold. The World of Interiors and their partner are here. It’s our first party where there are nearly as many bodyguards as guests. Nope, that’s not a fake Van Dyck. Yon butterfly thing, yep it’s a Damo Hirst. The old and new masters are courtesy of Milanese gallerist Jerome Zodo. “I’m opening my first gallery in London,” he tells Lavender’s Blue, “on Dering Street off the top of New Bond Street.” Luxury Living is lined wall to wall with models and that’s just the waiters and marble busts. Founder Alberto Vignatelli enthuses, “We are delighted to open our new store in an area of London synonymous with luxury living. London’s concentration of wealth and power and international audiences with impeccable taste in interiors makes it the perfect city to start Luxury Living’s next chapter.” It’s really not a dog’s life but if Rover is a discerning fan of Top Gear, the Bentley pet bed is a must at £3,960 a pup pop. Luxury Living proves Italians really are more stylish.

 

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Architects Architecture Art Country Houses Design Luxury People

David Linley + Highclere Castle Hampshire

Inside the Box

2 Linley © Stuart Blakley

Thanks to a certain Sunday evening wind down from the wild weekend historisoap, Highclere Castle is as recognisable as the Houses of Parliament. Golden Bath stone Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite pilasters framing corner turrets ascend to a parapet – a tumultuous riot of strapwork, tracery, heraldry, pinnacles, plaques, coronets, colonettes, rosettes and finials. Jacobethanaissance architecture with Perpendicoco interiors. Handiwork of Sir Charles Barry, circa 1840.

A drawer in an upper floor of the V+A contains a perspective drawing commissioned by the architect to show his client Lord Grantham Carnarvon how the redesigned castle would look. It was originally displayed at the Royal Academy. Who says artists’ impressions and exhibitions are recent tools of self promotion for savvy architects? Architectural models are another tool. British design company Linley has developed expertise in creating scaled down versions of buildings – with a twist. They are functional, whether a humidor, bureau or writing desk. Robert Smythson meets Frank Smythson.

Linley Highclere Castle © Stuart Blakley

Mavisbank, Monticello, Monte Carlo Casino, Marino Casino. The latter a miniature in wood of a miniature in stone. Chairman David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley, son of the late Princess Margaret, nephew of the Queen, drops his title and abbreviates his name to David Linley in business. “Something of lasting value is most important,” he says, “beautifully made with the best possible materials. We search out wonderful woods.” Accuracy derives from photographs, drawings, surveys and even aerial views from helicopters.

Highclere Castle is the latest building to receive the Linley treatment. Honey I shrunk the treasure house. It’s a jewellery box. Constructed of maple, 11,000 individual pieces of marquetry have been meticulously selected and pieced together by highly skilled craftsmen. This architectural box, lined in faux suede, has three main drawers plus a trademark secret drawer. Costs £65,000, price of a car or parking space.

At Lavender’s Blue we’re good with colour. So is Linley. Upmarket London shops must have their signature colour. Liberty: regal purple; Selfridges: canary yellow; Harrods: Pantone 574c greenLinley: aquamarine blue. David says, “We needed a striking colour to stand out cause, in a senses, the logo needs to be something you can see from far away… so that when you see a bag being carried down a street you know it’s that colour. Therefore it must be Linley. It’s rather nice when you see one – oh, that bag’s come out of the shop.”

1 Linley © Stuart Blakley

Categories
Architects Architecture Country Houses Design

Pitzhanger Manor London + Sir John Soane

Let’s Dance

1 Pitzhanger Manor © lvbmag.com

The hypothesis of this essay is that the genre of architecture that has become known as the Soane Style is the product of not just one man’s thinking but two. Both architects had commissions built in Northern Ireland. In a reflection of their work at Pitzhanger Manor, Sir John Soane’s effort is a showpiece still in existence while George Dance’s building has been considerably altered. Soane will be forever remembered for the main block of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution which starred as a police station in TV series The Fall. Although the executed plan was greatly simplified from original grandiose proposals it nevertheless exhibits his trademark blind arches and pilaster strips.

2 Pitzhanger Manor © lvbmag.com

Meanwhile at Mount Stewart in Greyabbey, a National Trust house, the straightforward neoclassicism of Dance’s wing may only just be discerned under the veil of a later remodelling. Owner Lady Mairi Bury, an aunt of Jemima Khan’s mother Lady Annabel Goldsmith née Vane-Tempest-Stewart, lived on in the house until her recent demise. As a teenager Lady Mairi met Hitler (“a nondescript person”) and Himmler (“like a shop walker in Harrods”).

3 Pitzhanger Manor © lvbmag.com

The combination of the architects’ talents climaxes at Pitzhanger Manor. This erection was Soane’s country home in then rural Ealing and is now a council owned museum and art gallery. When the Soane Style peaked to maturity circa 1800 it proved to be a progressive form of architecture free in proportion and liberated in structural adventurousness, unconstrained by complete classical correctness. The 15 year period centred on the turn of the 19th century found Soane’s creative juices overflowing and coincides with the time he enjoyed his full blown friendship with Dance.

4 Pitzhanger Manor © lvbmag.com

Pitzhanger Manor illustrates the overlap between their development of ideas and innovations. The three elements under scrutiny in this essay are the cross vault ceiling as in the library; the pendentive dome as in the breakfast room; and the top lit lantern such as that in the staircase hall. Here goes.

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In Soane’s work the cross vault ceiling first appears in the ground floor rear sitting room of his townhouse in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, built in 1792 and also now a museum. Dance uses a similar ceiling type at Cranbury Park in Northamptonshire a decade earlier. Its geometry is complex: a cross vault with the interpenetrations cut back to produce triangular chamfers which widen towards the apex of the ceiling where the ends meet to form four sides of a square.

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They likely both saw in this pattern a touch of gothic romance. The flying lines radiating from the corners of the room to the centre represent a reinterpretation of a ribbed vault. Soane developed this idea in his design for the Privy Council Chamber completed in 1824, where the motif is introduced as a canopy detached from the sides of the walls to allow natural light to filter from above.

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The innovative design of Dance’s Guildhall Common Council Chamber of 1777 provides an aesthetic forerunner of what is often considered peculiar to the Soane Style. This square hall, demolished in 1906, boasted a pendentive dome. It consisted of a continuous spherical surface rather than one rising from separate pendentives like more conventional neoclassical domes. In the Guildhall the continuity of surface is not explicitly obvious because Dance introduced decorative spandrils which produced a scalloped effect resembling the inside of an umbrella.

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Fourteen years later, Soane adopted the pendentive dome for his own use in the drawing room of Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire, where he repeated the Guildhall’s scalloped effect, and a year later at the Bank of England’s Stock Office. Just when an impression is forming that the pendentive dome was a one way inspirational mode Soane snatched from Dance, it becomes apparent that the two architects assumed unity of views since Dance designed a pendentive dome for Lansdowne House which was contemporaneous with the Bank Stock Office. The design of the junction between the hall and the domed space in Lansdowne House, Berkeley Square, is exactly comparable with Dance’s initial scheme for the Bank Stock Office which also incorporates semicircular windows over segmental arches.

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Picturesque top lit lanterns which originated for practical reasons at the Bank Stock Office became an integral component of the Soane Style. Soane was faced with the problem of how to produce effective top lighting and there is evidence that he consulted his confidante because the initial sketches are in Dance’s hand. The first study is inspired by the Basilica of Constantine and the Diocletian Baths, appropriate sources of inspiration for any neoclassical architect. But Dance chose to modify the Roman prototype. Instead of the heavily mullioned windows of the originals he introduced fully glazed half moons which Soane incorporated into his final proposals for the Bank Stock Office.

16 Pitzhanger Manor © lvbmag.com

Top lit lanterns appear in buildings throughout the remainder of Soane’s career including his Dulwich Picture Gallery. He continued to use and interpret these three motifs, the cross vault ceiling, the pendentive dome and the top lit lantern, after his initial efforts with Dance. Combined with his prolific output, this cemented the association of the style with his name rather than Dance’s.

17 Pitzhanger Manor © lvbmag.com

It is not suggested in this essay that any of Soane’s architecture is interchangeable with Dance’s but rather that the Soane Style was developed through their exchange of design concepts. Soane’s main contribution is a novel handling of proportion coupled with highly idiosyncratic applied decoration while many of the basic constituents of the style may be credited to Dance. In his lifetime Soane never ceased to acknowledge indebtedness to his “revered master” while Dance wrote to his pupil “you would do me a great favour and a great service if you would let me look at your plan… I want to steal from it”.

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The ongoing restoration of Pitzhanger Manor not only highlights Soane at his most individualistic but also reveals the more conventional neoclassicism of the south wing which was Dance’s first attempt at a country house, before he aided the younger architect in the development of what was to become known as the Soane Style.

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Categories
Architecture Design Developers Luxury

Finchatton + The Lansbury Knightsbridge London

Postcode Perfect

1 Finchatton's The Lansbury copyright lvbmag.com

There are the golden postcodes of Belgravia, Chelsea, Kensington, Knightsbridge and Mayfair. Then there is the platinum Knightsbridge address of Basil Street, sandwiched between Harrods and Harvey Nics. Bronze torches light the winter’s night. Silver railings cordon off a red carpet. Welcome to The Lansbury. Beware, the bling ends at the front door (except perhaps for beetroot macaroons at the launch party).

2 Finchatton's The Lansbury copyright lvbmag.com

Developer Finchatton’s latest offering is a slender sliver of a corner apartment block rising six (visible) storeys. Walls hewn from sandstone form a deeply incised but relatively unadorned skin. What a welcome relief (no pun) from the brick Accordia-lite which has come to dominate domestic architecture in the capital. Shallow rectangular projecting bays provide a nod to nearby mansion blocks. The Lansbury’s architecture has a restrained permanence, the antithesis of pop up culture. It doesn’t compete for attention with its chunkier period neighbours. Period. Instead it commands material consideration (stop the puns!) through quality and subtlety.

3 Finchatton's The Lansbury copyright lvb,ag.com

“Our style is very considered,” says Andrew Dunn, one half of Finchatton’s founders. “It’s not blingy and bright and flashy. The Lansbury embodies our core values: utmost quality and attention to detail, contemporary design with reference to heritage and longevity, and exceptional servicing.” Co founder Alex Michelin adds, “Everything’s custom made and bespoke. We designed every single piece.” As it turns out, even the napkins.

4 Finchatton's The Lansbury copyright lvbmag.com

The look is art deco influenced. The ethic is arts and crafts inspired. The art is intrinsic to the whole. “It’s a slightly different organic sensibility,” says Jiin Kim-Inoue, Finchatton’s Head of Design. “Harmonious, inviting, an almost lived in look… The rooms shouldn’t be loud, not with such an incredible view.” Across the road, golden illuminated letters shout “Harrods!” “We’ve used fibres such as wool, cashmere and horsehair, combining them with metals and other natural materials to create cleverly textured surroundings. Walnut and polished sycamore work with bronze, brass and steel. Nero Argento marble and crystal sit alongside buffalo horn and shagreen.”

Monochromatic Mondrianic mirror mouldings, television surrounds and bookcases complemented by infusions of jewel tones: amethyst, garnet, sapphire. Book matched black marble bathrooms and vein matched white marble bathrooms. Herringbone, hessian, pinstripe, check. Check. Soft calf leather banister rails sewn on site. Stingray leather covered desks. The haves and the have lots are demanding.

The names of the artists and designers and artist designers Finchatton commissioned for The Lansbury read like the better half of the Who’s Who of interiors. A Bruce Monro crystal rain shower installation across the three metre wide street level window. Maya Romanoff hand painted wallpaper. Gayle Warwick embroidered bed linen. Rima & McRae plasterwork. Loro Piana cashmere.

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The upper level of the 280 square metre duplex penthouse opens onto a roof terrace, an airy eyrie. Seating is arranged round a glass floor which doubles as the kitchen ceiling below. Spying on the chef has never been so easy. Later in the evening, a purchaser will pay a cool £1 million over the asking price for the penthouse. The communal elevator descends past three 170 square metre lateral apartments and a 130 square metre duplex apartment before reaching the ground floor triplex. This apartment dramatically drops two storeys below ground. Only in London would subterranean living be a high. One lower ground floor bedroom overlooks a three storey void; the other, a living wall in a light well. A cinema, gym and temperature controlled wine cellar – must haves – occupy the lowest level.

6 Finchatton's The Lansbury copyright lvbmag.com

The Lansbury is timeless yet capable of registering the passage of time. The concise correlation between outer order and inner sanctum is a deeply felt subliminal recognition. Finchatton establishes a layered yet cohesive language through an association of material and space, a sense of balance, an understanding of the uplifting effects that space and light have on the human spirit.

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As John Bennett wrote, “Wherever men have lived and moved and their being, hoped, feared, succeeded, failed, loved, laughed, been happy, lost, mourned, died, were beloved or detested, there remains forever a something, intangible and tenuous as thought, a sentience very like a soul, which abides forever in the speechless walls.”