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Christmas Champagne Breakfast + sketch Mayfair London

The Morning and Night Before Christmas

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Afternoon tea and champers are, by definition and nature respectively, not before noon. But this is sketch Mayfair, the restaurant cum bar cum gallery which invents the rules. Or abandons them altogether. Case is a case in point. Lower is the new upper. What’s not to love sipping like dowagers while untying ribboned cheesy toastie sliders. Bûche de Noël anyone? The zany interior has gone even more cuckoo now that the season to be very jolly is round the corner.

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Opening the front door of sketch is like entering C S Lewis’s wardrobe. Florist Carly Rogers has gone to town – and country – with a snowy forestscape called Hollow Way. Carly says she “takes inspiration from across the creative world: painting, fashion, interiors, pottery, textiles, architecture and more!” So the eclecticism of sketch is the perfect partner for her displays. Fairies by florist JamJar float around the ceiling of The Glade, sketch’s bar. As Elizabeth Bowen would say, “Upstairs is crazy with dreams or love.” In The Lecture Room, the first floor restaurant of sketch, Tony Marklew’s rose strewn Christmas tree Let It Snow fits neatly under the domed ceiling.

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Architecture Art Design Luxury People Restaurants Town Houses

Clea Irving + sketch Mayfair London

A Play on Words

Sketch Mayfair Parlour Ceiling © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

sketch, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is, “A rough or unfinished drawing or painting, often made to assist in making a more finished picture.” Or, “A rough or unfinished version of any creative work.” Or, “A brief written or spoken account or description, giving only basic details.” Or, “A short humorous play or performance, consisting typically of one scene in a comedy programme.” Or, “A comical or amusing person or thing.” sketch is also Mayfair’s most up for it eatery with so much art and music it’s institution as installation. If art makes what was not there before, sketch creates what was lacking.

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“Over 50 artists are represented here,” relates the beautiful Art Curator, Clea Irving, gazing at Annabel Karim Kassar’s Trophée Stag Light, Mark Lawson’s Bell Ash Tray, Ron Gilad’s Dear Igo Spider Lamp. Names, names. “My job is curating, assisting artists – sourcing plates!” she laughs. A conduit. Melbourne born UCLA educated Clea also arranges Sunday evening art classes in the Parlour from life drawing to lessons on design. The salon reborn. “It’s a Grade II listed house. It was previously the home of a balloonist, suffragettes, occupied for a spell by Dior, then RIBA. We’ve 190 staff but no elevator, just the original staircase. As the bar is being cleared at 4am, the pastry chef arrives. We’re 24 hours, front of house, back of house. It’s a little bit Downton Abbey.”

Sketch Martin Creed Gallery © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The Glade is a verdant decadent fecund indoor garden brimming with 1950s French rattan furniture. “It was dreamt up by partners slash life partners Carolyn Quartermaine and Didier Mahieu, both artists,” explains Clea. “An enchanted fairy tale forest in central London. A postcard provided inspiration for the découpage walls.” Mrs Delaney on weed. The Gallery, a colourful cavernous cacophony by Turner Prize winner Martin Creed, is about to be revamped, given a rollercoasting makeover by Turner Prize nominee David Shrigley. Both downstairs restaurants serve Viennoiseries and afternoon tea with Dubonnet and Gin, the Queen’s favourite tipple. The menu is decorated with images from the 1902 Sears Roebuck catalogue.

“Restaurateur Mourad Mazouz oversees the interiors,” explains Clea, “And master chef Pierre Gagnaire looks after all the restaurants including the two Michelin star Lecture Room and Library upstairs. The interiors personify Mourad’s style and taste, his sense of humour. They’re purposely over ornamental, over the top, exuberant, playful, funny, tongue-in-cheek, about performance. Unlike Christo and Jeanne-Claude revelation through concealment, sketch’s décor is extrovert!” A barrel vaulted coffered kaleidoscope, a translucent tectonic Teutonic tartan, hovers over a pale monochromatic moonscape. Enigmatic eggs, USOs (Unidentified Stationary Objects), hatch humans (completely out of the loo). Blue steps for boys; red steps for gals.

JP Eating Afternoon Tea at sketch © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

She suggests, “People like to feel intimate when fine dining. Even though there are 46 covers in the Lecture Room and Library, the padded walls create that effect, softening the acoustics, adding ambiance.” Designed by South African born London based Gabhan O’Keeffe, burnt amber upholstery merrily zigzags across carpets and chairs, a marble Adam fireplace adding a moment of sobriety. Found and reflected objects fuse to become an eclectic whole. The restaurant as gallery, the Gallery as restaurant. Visual stimulation for digestion. “London’s where it’s all happening. There’s access to the best history, teachers, media. We’ve five of the best art schools in the world: Central St Martin’sCourtauld, Goldsmiths, RCA, Slade.” And with that, Clea finishes filling in the outline of sketch. The picture is complete.

Easter at sketch London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley