Adventures in Design: I Love London Part 4
Finally, part four of my spring visit to London to support Arkive, a unique global initiative gathering a digital library of Earth's endangered species and the habitats in which they live. A little more shopping, a little time with friends. Better late than never!
Shopping in London is always fun and full of surprises. Everywhere you turn you'll find inspired design, skilled artisans and funky new interpretations of the classics.
I even found some sources from the driver in my car from the airport!
This ad for Patrick Mavros' animal skin ottomans was in a magazine in the car. I have long admired and owned several of Patrick's silver animal sculptures and knew this was a sign that his shop on Fulham Road was a must-see while I was in town.
Patrick was in that day (see photo at top; he comes to London once a month) so I had the pleasure of meeting him and three of his four boys, including Alex, pictured below. The incredible candelabra of acacia trees and elephants in front of us is quite famous. And quite beautiful.
Here's a lovely video, narrated by Alex that tells their story. I was amazed to learn that Patrick has no formal art training and inadvertently started the business while cooped up in the hospital!
This truly is a family business with everyone involved! They split their time between London, Mauritius and their beautiful home outside Harare in Zimbabwe.
I received the Mavros' family holiday card earlier this year and it's packed full of adventure, happy people, exotic locales and the beauty of nature. What a life!
Such a lovely family!
On to Patrick's beautiful work. Detailed, realistic, charming and some, downright funny!
We saw meerkats on our trip to Africa several years ago. Such fun little characters to watch - Patrick really captured their personalities.
This turtle paper weight is so handsome and tactile. It feels great to hold.
These smaller pieces - place card holders and napkin rings - make incredible gifts. I talked with Patrick about carrying them at Maze. I hope some day he will take me up on my offer!
One of the most incredible pieces (and most expensive: 20,000 British pounds when I was there in the spring; with the rise in the cost of silver it's now 30,000!) is this monkey lamp with a guinea feather shade. Exquisite detail!
Another amazing find was Serena Linley's new shop, Serena Linley Provence, on Walton Street. I've loved her husband David Linley's shop, Linley, for years with its magnificent bespoke furniture, gifts and accessories, and was naturally excited to see what Serena had created.
It was wonderful. Serena spent seven years bringing her vision to life and it showed in every well thought out detail from the store design to products and packaging, to the "experience" of shopping at Serena Linley Provence.
Via Jonathan Clark Architects
From her architects, Jonathan Clark Architects:
"One of the main concepts of the interior was to create a streamlined, paired down yet warm and welcoming interior using natural materials. Hence the use of solid Douglas Fir timber throughout for the new joinery and Pierre du Bourgogne stone slabs from Provence on the floor and wall cladding. The timber has been treated with a lye and white soap finish to achieve a paler ‘soapy’ look and provide protection to the wood."
The shop was full of natural light, stone floors, light wood and glass fixtures - and the Regency X that never fails to show up in English design! Fresh, organic and spa-like - a relaxing retreat amid the hustle-bustle of London. There is even a courtyard in the back where you can enjoy chilled herbal water while you wait for your packages to be wrapped.
Using lavender and other plants harvested from her family's estate, she offers scents and "well-being" products including soaps customized for the water in your city (hard or soft water, PH balance, etc.).
Her colors are a soft, warm gray and white, and her logo features a dragonfly. The packaging is simply elegant.
The woven ribbon lavender sachets were to die for! What great souvenirs to bring back for your friends (and yourself!).
I love the prepackaged mini bottles that offer a sampling of a number of lotions and potions.
And the grey Murano glass votive candles are so beautiful.
I'm very sensitive to scents and found I could wear/use any and all of the soaps, lotions and candles Serena created.
Serena Linley Provence is a definite must-see on your next trip to London.
One evening I met an old Northwestern friend for dinner at Bar Boulud, located in my hotel (the Mandarin Oriental which is across from Harvey Nichols where I get my hair done - and have to stop and shop on each floor on the way up to the salon!). It was so good to catch up with her in a place with such great ambiance.
If you can't get a table at Bar Boulud, you can eat at the bar. The food is delicious!
The last night of our trip I met my friends at their hotel, the Connaught. While we were there, sculptress Emma MacDermott (on left below, with her sister) came by to show my friends the wax maquette of a sculpture they commissioned. A maquette is a wax or clay model or mini-replica of a bronze statue, presented to the client for approval before the final steps in the creation process begin.
The pieces will eventually be life-size bronzes of their two favorite hunting dogs for installation at their farm!
Emma works in bronze and silver and has commissions all over the US, UK and Europe. She's even built a life-size bronze of a stud horse in Lexington, Kentucky!
A few quick notes on the Connaught Hotel. Details I loved: a mirror-fronted tub, a towel warmer, modern cabinetry galore and, in the lobby, a tableau of nature created with an arrangement of simple flowers in beakers.
No detail ignored!
For dinner that evening, we went to a private club in Mayfair. On the way, we passed by the Marc Jacobs store. The window display was a hoot! It featured Playboy bunnies and a huge stuffed bear in a Hefner-esque robe.
At the club, the bathrooms were to die for! The walls were covered in David Hockney's art and coral and blue striped fabric.
After dinner it was back to my hotel for some much needed sleep! But while we're touring bathrooms . . .
The bathroom at my hotel was lovely. It had an all metal vanity with a Calcutta marble top. The mirror was trimmed out in metal with a boiserie of flowers at the top.
The bath tub had a marble front.
And there were circles inset in the marble floor.
There was a shelf above the toilet that hid the plumbing while providing very practical storage and display space.
And of course the Regency X! Here it's fabric-backed in the closet doors.
Making our way out of the room . . . The ornate stairway at the end of the hall provided a beautiful view of Hyde Park (this is the old Hyde Park Hotel).
There were 9 or 10 flights of stairs and I climbed them all!
And finally, on my way out of the hotel heading home, I couldn't resist one last beautiful detail. On the mantle in the lobby was an arrangement comprising a repetition of pinks. It was a breath of spring though it was 40 degrees outside! And I just happened to have on a matching scarf (on the chair) - pink pattern on pattern on pattern!
The English truly are the masters of layering! Just look at all the different marbles they used here (on the floor, the fireplace, the wall and the column). The English love to have design in their lives; their aesthetic is part of their culture - like bringing out the porcelain and little sandwiches at tea time - so civilized.
So months later I can still say I love London and I had a wonderful trip. You (and I) may have realized I've become something of an Anglophile lately - though Paris, don't worry, you are still my heart. On my next Adventure in Design, you'll find me living the country life in Wiltshire, England, soaking up the local culture!
See you soon(er) than last time!
Check out the rest of my London Adventure in Design:
Part 1: Arkive Luncheon at Buckingham Palace
Part 2: The Royal Collection (and Wedding Souvenirs!)
Part 3: Shopping