Tuesday, 17 November 2015

i am listening to...

I'm not quite sure how I managed to miss the release of Charlie Fink's debut solo single back in July, but I've just caught up and I must say, I'm charmed. Watch the video for My Heartbeat Lost its Rhythm below.


Newsflash from LEH HQ! After a wonderful two years I stopped working as an interior designer for Ben Pentreath at the end of October, which was sad in many ways. Excitingly however, I am currently in the process of setting up my own studio not far from my home in North London.

This new opportunity will allow me to concentrate on creating artwork for both commercial and private clients.

At the moment I am working on a bunch of drawings and paintings for the Parker Palm Springs hotel in California.

I will also be offering interior design services. Recently I've been working on the interiors of this handsome Georgian house in the Kent countryside.

The plan is to collaborate with the lovely owners on sourcing furniture, choosing paint colours and so on, room by room. We started in the Drawing Room by painting the walls a deep greeny blue, before having a big new sofa made. It's covered in a heavy mustard corduroy. I absolutely love corduroy. The colours of the antique striped kilim rug we found are just perfect - that burnt orange next to that mint green next to that pale pink. Heaven.

In the near future I will be building upon my small existing homewares collection and launching new fabric and ceramic designs. More about those soon. On another note, my shop with 1stdibs went live yesterday. Do take a look! I'll be making some special one-off pieces for 1stdibs - plates and platters, drawings and prints... Watch this space!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

autumn diaries

At the very beginning of October, we spent a night at Cliveden House. I didn't think too much of the hotel interiors, but the grounds are beautiful. The views from the terraces are sublime because the Italianate mansion sits so high above the Thames. Also: impressive borders.

Post-Cliveden Sunday afternoon at home. Homemade Bloody Marys and a good read.

Dinner was enjoyed one drizzly October evening at Otto's - classic French food on Gray's Inn Road, of all places. The lobster soufflé was, I believe, one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. Go if you haven't been, and do your best to ignore the awful signage and questionable branding - the cooking is top-notch.

Ancient Triptych - new work destined for a hotel opening this winter in Dorset.

Early Drawings, an exhibition of fifty five works on paper by David Hockney dating from the 1960s and 70s, was held recently at the Offer Waterman gallery in Mayfair. It was wonderful - I love Hockney's early work and to see so many of his famous sketches together in one place was a real treat.

My murals for the new flagship Murdock shop on Brewer Street in Soho were unveiled. Take a look if you're in the neighbourhood! I created six giant works for the space - they tell the story of a man's day as he makes his way around the city. (Dogs, tennis and cocktails included.)

Halloween arrived on Saturday and D. and I realised suddenly that we hadn't made any party plans, which in the end turned out to be for the best. I'd been feeling a little under the weather and wanted a rest. On Saturday morning we woke early. The weather was beautiful, so we headed down to Spa Terminus in Bermondsey - a favourite weekend early morning spot. I love all of the food producers who gather down there to sell their excellent produce. We bought coffee, flowers and jars of honey and wandered over to Maltby Street. After a browse in Lassco and a doughnut from St John, we settled down at 40 Maltby Street with glasses of wine, a few plates of ham and cheese and the newspapers. The rest of the day was spent at home, watching films and sleeping. Later on we made a good supper for a cold autumn day - crab linguine, rice pudding with jam.

On Sunday, the first day of November, the weather was spectacular again. We hotfooted it over to Hampstead Heath and blew away the cobwebs with a long walk and a stroll around Kenwood House. It was heavenly - grey mist rising from the ground, shafts of early morning light - clear and pale gold.

Lunch was brown shrimp on toast and pork chops at The Horseshoe on Heath Street. Next door to The Horseshoe sits Louis Hungarian Patisserie - I hadn't really noticed the place before but its pink and red cake boxes, lined up on shelves in the windows, caught my eye as we left the pub. Of course, I immediately had to run in and buy an éclair. Louis is a tea room as well as a shop and the 1960s interior is quite brilliant - my heart glowed at the sight of faded panelling, olive leather banquettes and patterned carpets. This, combined with those perfect pink and red cake boxes and the Hungarian owner (he likes to park his blue Rolls Royce out the front), brought only one thing to mind: Mendl's! I reckon this place is about as close as you're going to get to Wes Anderson's fictional bakery.

Monday, 2 November 2015

in the press... house & garden november 2015 and domino magazine 14/10/2015

Read the full article here.

Thanks to Domino Magazine for the wonderful feature on our home. Read the full article (including an interview with me) here.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

i am listening to...

Julia Holter's fourth album is a gorgeous, elaborate, sparkling triumph. As we slip slowly into autumn, Have You in My Wilderness is the perfect record to get thoroughly lost in. It's a theatrical and majestic and utterly lovely affair, and amongst the dazzling orchestral arrangements and icy electronics, Holter's haunting vocals steal the show. My favourite track is Sea Calls Me Home.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

three weekends in late summer

It's been a busy (but very exciting) time recently, with new projects starting life left, right and centre. We've also been out of London for several weekends in a row: at the end of August we spent a weekend in Cambridge - we were staying with D.'s old school friend Dmitri who after many years of studying and work, was getting ready to move to Oxford. We arrived at midday on a Saturday and spent a few hours drifting through colleges, chapels and cloisters, Dmitri telling stories along the way.

The afternoon was spent punting on the Cam. I, funnily enough, had never punted, and I took to it like a duck to water, I truly feel. We made our way merrily down stream, sunlight bouncing off the water, taking it in turns to punt, eat strawberries and drink a good bottle of German wine.

We had supper in Dmitri's college on Saturday night (candlelight, silver, Sauternes) and on Sunday we walked along the river to Grantchester, a nearby village, for lunch. Afterwards we spent a few hours exploring the Fitzwilliam Museum (total heaven!), before getting caught in the rain on our way to the train station.

The following weekend we travelled up to Edinburgh to see D.'s family and to have some fun at the annual festival. We saw funny theatre and acrobatics and lots of other things, but most of our time was spent at home with the poodles, enjoying platefuls of belated Birthday cake, expertly made for me by D.'s wonderful sister.

A week later we were in Oxfordshire for a fabulous wedding party. It was lots of fun. On Sunday (with terrible hangovers) we headed over to The Wild Rabbit in Kingham for lunch (fish goujons, delicious roast lamb). I highly recommend this place, with its adorable rabbit logo (illustrated by Hugo Guinness). We pottered around nearby Chipping Norton, darted in and out of antique shops, then drove over to Hidcote Manor Garden, a place I'd read about on our way to the party. Hidcote is one of the best-known and most influential Arts and Crafts gardens in Britain, with its linked 'rooms' of hedges, rare trees, shrubs and herbaceous borders. The whole experience was utterly, utterly delightful. We strolled through the garden 'rooms', afternoon light filtering through the leaves, an early autumn chill just notable in the air, quite delirious to be amongst so much beauty.

I loved this set of croquet mallets, found abandoned on the edge of a lawn.

D. with a perfect pavilion poking out from behind a hedge.

We were with our great friend (and D.'s business partner) Charlotte, who had never been to Chipping Campden, which sits just down the road from Hidcote. It was lovely to be able to show her this beautiful old market town with its elegant terraced High Street and honey-coloured limestone buildings. Total bliss...

As for those new projects, more updates to come!

in the press... town & country autumn 2015 and the wall street journal 16/09/2015

Original drawings and paintings available via my website.

Defy autumn with tropical décor! Read the full article here.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

that amalfi air

And so, back to the Amalfi Coast. D. and I arrived in Ravello on a cloudy day in mid-August, after a short drive through the mountains from Naples. We visited Ravello for the first time last year and fell in love with the place - compared to the glitz of the seaside towns below, Ravello, sitting high above the coast, has a magical atmosphere - refined, elegant and enchanting.

On Sunday we paid a visit to the Villa Cimbrone - a heavenly place - all long avenues, fragrant gardens and balconies fringed with marble busts.

We had lunch at the villa and I spent the afternoon by the pool, sketching.

On Monday we headed down the coast to Amalfi. We spent a couple of days not doing very much at all. We swam in the sea and read our books on the beach. How perfect are these neat rows of red and white parasols? We ate lunch a couple of times at the brilliant Lido Azzurro, which hangs over the water a few metres down from the beach. I had the same thing both times - anchovies and fried tomatoes from Sorrento, stuffed with cheese and simple, superb ravioli.

Vongole for lunch on another day.

I spent some time dreaming up ideas for my future beach club. A colour scheme of pale pink and bright yellow could work, perhaps?

We took a boat out on Wednesday. Our main priority was lunch at Da Adolfo, which is pretty much our favourite restaurant in the world. We didn't quite know what to do with our boat when nobody was around to help us at 10am - D. ended up swimming to shore in order to book a table. That's how seriously we take lunch! Mozzarella on lemon leaves, pasta with lobster, white wine and peaches...

Afterwards we hotfooted it over to Capri. We didn't park up this time, but winded our way through the Faraglioni - three towering rock formations - before heading back to the mainland.

Another end of the beach at Amalfi - I mean, I just love Italians.

It was my Birthday on Thursday. We started the day slowly with coffee in Amalfi's Piazza del Duomo, and by 10:30am we were on a ferry, bound for Capri. We spent a lazy afternoon on the island last year but this time around I wanted to do more exploring. We climbed the 900 ancient steps to Anacapri, with the Villa San Michele in our sights. The villa was built around the turn of the 20th century by the Swedish physician and author Axel Munthe. Between 1919 and 1920, Munthe was an unwilling landlord to the outrageous heiress and muse Luisa Casati, who took possession of the villa and furnished it according to her theatrical tastes. Artists, photographers and sculptors stood in line to interpret Casati, who paraded around with tame cheetahs, snakes and crocodiles. The view was worth those 900 steps.

The original of this mosaic floor in the villa's Dining Room is Pompeian and was covered by ashes when Vesuvius exploded in 79 A.D.

I found this book in the gift shop - have you ever seen a more perfect cover?

We spent the afternoon relaxing at Il Riccio - a heavenly beach club and restaurant, set on a dramatic cliff face with incredible views. A delicious Birthday meal followed (we even got to choose our own fish from the counter), and by this time we'd decided to spend the night on the island...

Another sketch - from the Villa Cimbrone, actually.

Sunset over Ischia.

We moved to our final hotel on Friday, even further down the Amalfi Coast and nestled into a charming little cove next door to Praiano. We lunched for a second time at Da Adolfo. The rest of the day was spent on the beach, recovering from Birthday excesses, and more swimming and sketching.

On Saturday we caught a water taxi a few bays over to Positano, full of excitement and expectation. It was Ferragosto, an Italian water festival, very special to the town of Positano because locals re-enact the salvaging of a Byzantine icon of the Madonna that was washed up on the beach there in 1117. We made our way through dozens of winding lanes before pitching up at Le Sirenuse for cocktails.

Le Sirenuse - I became quite envious of their side table collection.

More cocktails at another hotel... Afterwards we had a very good dinner (scallops, squid) and watched fireworks explode above the sea at midnight. We'd been fairly lucky with weather so far, give or take the odd storm, but on Saturday night the sky erupted - fireworks on one side, lightning striking the water on the other. It was magnificent!

Even more sketching.

On Sunday we headed back to Capri for two reasons. We'd planned to meet up with one of D.'s friends for a drink in the afternoon, and beforehand we were hoping to make a pilgrimage to the Villa Lysis, built by the eccentric French industrialist and poet Jacques d'Adelswärd-Fersen in 1905. The villa was a refuge for Fersen; he lived here in self-chosen exile from Paris after an alleged sex scandal. Architecturally, the house was built mainly in an Art Nouveau style with Neoclassical elements, a style which might be called 'Neoclassical decadent'. The villa was dedicated to the youth of love and the Latin inscription above the front steps reads AMORI ET DOLORI SACRVM (a shrine to love and sorrow). Obviously I adored the place.

Beautiful pale blue floors at the Villa Lysis.

Lunch. I love this restaurant (we went last year too) - everything is either pink or green and the waiters wear cummerbunds.

We caught a ferry from Capri to Sorrento in the early evening and afterwards had supper in the town. Over drinks we marvelled at how lovely the place was, with its incredible view of Vesuvius across the Gulf of Naples. Monday, sadly, was our last day on the coast. We had lunch with friends over from the UK at the Il San Pietro, one of our favourite hotels. Afterwards we took off, with heavy hearts, and visited Herculaneum on the way to the airport - quite a sight. By midnight we were at home and in bed, dreaming of our next adventure. Is Venice calling?