Masterpiece London Preview 2015 + The Wallace Collection

Total Eclipse of the Art

Adam by Richard Hudson @ Leila Heller Gallery MPL15 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

It was as if Elizabeth Bowen was in Masterpiece London and not The House in Paris: “Heaven – call it heaven; on the plane of potential not merely likely behaviour. Or call it art, with truth and imagination informing every word.” Now in its sixth year, Lavender’s Blue have covered the last four but as Liz B declared, “Any year of one’s life has got to be lived.” Red carpet Dysoned, #MPL2015 has arrived. The greatest show on earth is back in town. Millennia of masterpieces filling a groundscraper marquee (12,500 square metres), a pneumatic Royal Hospital Chelsea, full blown Wrenaissance, Quinlan Merry, painted canvas under printed canvas. Arts and antiques gone glamping. Something to tweet home about lolz. An upper case Seasonal fixture and celebration of unabashed luxury. Masterpiece is truly the cultural epicurean epicentre of civilisation, from now (Grayson Perry’s Map of Days at Offer Waterman) to antiquity (Head of a Young Libyan AD 200 at Valerio Turchi).

Eamonn Holmes MPL2015 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Everyone’s here at the preview party, the upper aristocracy and upper meritocracy of globalisation chic to chic. Royalty with their heirs and airs, gentry with their seats and furniture, oligarchs with their bodyguards’ bodyguards, Anglo Irish with their Lords and Lourdes, nouveau riche with their Youghal to Youghal carpet, celebrities with their baggage and baggage, Londoners with their Capital and capital. And a very bubbly Eamonn Holmes. Stop people watching. Stare at the felicitous ambiguity of Geer van Velde. Wonder at the dense opaque impasto of Freud. Gaze at the transparent golden glaze of Monet. Study the descriptive precision of Zoffany. Blog about the parallel lines of Bridget Riley. Instagram a selfie beside The Socialite, Andy Warhol’s portrait of New York realtor Olga Berde Mahl shyly making her first ever public showing courtesy of Long-Sharp Gallery. Better late than never.

Tomasso Brothers Dionysius Bust  MPL2015 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“If you think about it the clue is in the name,” muses artist Anne Davey Orr. “Masterpiece – a creation that is considered the greatest work of a career, or any work of outstanding creativity and skill. And Masterpiece is certainly the best in its field. From the faux façades to the faux colonnades, and the exotic festoons by Nikki Tibbles of Wild at Heart, Masterpiece exudes a professionalism which avoids the tackiness that sometimes attaches to other art fairs. The accompanying directory of 300 high end galleries alone, contents apart, sets it in a league of its own.”

Steinway Fibonacci MPL2015 @ Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Newly introduced Cultural Partners such as the Wallace Collection lend added weight to #MPL2015. Every discipline in the design art market is represented. The reflection is so perfect in Edouard Lièvre’s rosewood mirror in Didier Aaron. Hot on the jewel encrusted heels of Wartski is a cool £22 million Bling Ring’s worth of rubies and diamonds at Van Cleef and Arpels. “It’s hard to find rubies over five carats,” notes PR Joan Walls. “The Vermillon earrings are 13.33 and 13.83 carats. Their pigeon blood red colour is so rare, so wonderful. They’ve pure consistency with very few inclusions. The Vermillon earrings are underscored by corollas of pear shaped marquise cut diamonds.”

Another Masterpiece first is a piano. Cue Steinway and Son’s 600,000th instrument The Fibonacci designed and handcrafted by Frank Pollaro. Random renditions of Für Elise aren’t recommended. Sipping Ruinart and devouring pea and mint canapés while chatting to Stephen Millikin is. “Fibonacci is a geometric representation of the golden ratio. It’s found in nature and art, brought together in this piano,” Stephen explains. He’s Senior Director of Global Public Relations at Steinway and Sons, based at 1155 Avenue of the Americas, New York. “The piano is made from six logs of Macassar Ebony. A Fibonacci spiral is inset in the veneer. This motif resonated with Frank Pollaro.” At £1.85 million it’s not going for a song but nor should it. The Fibonacci was four years in the making from concept to completion. Maths star piece.

Van Cleef and Arpels Vermillon Earrings MPL2015 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Vaulted boulevards of dreams, deep white fissures, lead to panoplies of intense colour. Galerie Chenel’s Pompeiian red, empire yellow and lavender’s blue niches fade to black in the shadows of exquisite statuary. There is no vanilla at Masterpiece. Lacroix clad Lady Henrietta Rous and Suzanne Von Pflugl rock up to Scott’s (Mount Street has decamped from Mayfair to Chelsea for the week). The conversation is fashion houses and fashionable houses. “I’m wearing my Ascot hat!” proclaims Lady Henrietta. “I tried on all the hats on King’s Road! Ossie Clarke was a good friend. I edited his diaries.” Annabel P recognises mention of Suzanne’s childhood home now lived in by her brother, Milton Manor House. “It’s perfect for weddings. At the last one Henrietta was still going strong on the dancefloor at 2am!” jokes Suzanne. “It was the vintage music!” blames Lady Henrietta.

Brun Fine Art MPL2015 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“Tamarisks flying past the rainy windows were some dream,” imagined Elizabeth Bowen, “not your own, a dream you have heard described.” Carriages; horses for courses. All aboard golf buggies to vacate the Royal Hospital estate. Not so bound the Honourable Mrs Gerald Legge, Countess of Dartmouth, Comtesse de Chambrun Viscountess Lewisham, Viscountess Spencer. A Rolls Royce pulls up and Raine slides into the back seat. Blacked out windows slide up, no time for a Snapchat. And so, the chimerical layering vision that is Masterpiece London, so emblematic of a progressive spirit, is over for another year. Here’s to #MPL2016.

Lady Henrietta Rous @ MPL15 © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Comme Chez Soi + Hotel Amigo Brussels

Sprouting Brussels

Hotel Amigo Brussels Hall © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

There are more painful ways to start the weekend than breakfasting on Sally Clarke’s bread rolls aboard Eurostar. Especially if it is preceded by dining at her eponymous restaurant the night before. Dinner was a set menu held in the intimate private dining room on the (to use estate agents’ speak) lower ground floor of her discreet Kensington Church Street premises. Call it Chatham House Basement. Lucien Freud animal drawings hanging on the walls are a reminder of the late great artist’s fondness for Clarke’s. She’s all about no nonsense good quality English cooking and baking:

Hotel Amigo Brussels © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Comme Chez Soi Brussels © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Saturday lunch was another pescatarian thrill but that’s where the similarity ends. A change of time zone wasn’t the only difference. Comme Chez Soi on Place Rouppe, a sedate square in lower town Brussels, has a Victor Horta influenced art nouveau dining room accommodating just 36 covers. That hasn’t stopped it gaining two Michelin stars. A family owned restaurant, chef Lionel Rigolet is the fourth generation owner. His wife Laurence explained, “Comme Chez Soi was established by my great grandfather in 1921. It moved to the current building 10 years later. We live behind the restaurant.” Comme Chez Soi celebrates classic French cuisine at its most refined:

Comme Chez Soi Dining Room © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Comme Chez Soi Dining Table © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

There are greater trials than concluding the weekend at Hotel Amigo, a bread roll’s throw from Brussels’ Grand Place. It is of course the continental flagship of the Rocco Forte chain and is Olga Polizzi’s baby. Keeping it in the family, Olga is television presenter Alex Polizzi’s mother who is Sir Rocco Forte’s niece. It’s hard not to fall in love in a city that has districts called Le Chat, Poxcat and Helmet. Testing endurance, at the end of the day, it’s off to Amigo’s health suite. In the words of Bobbie Houston, co founder of Hillsong, “A mannie, a peddie and a massage cause, gentlemen, that’s what you do when you don’t know what to do.”

Comme Chez Soi Laurence Rigolet © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Waterloo Gardens Summer Party + Monsieur Nicholas Feuillatte

House of Lords and Ladies

After the Party © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“Cucumber sandwiches, plenty of champagne, the Unconventional Crooners and a marquee in a beautiful garden setting crammed with friends from Westminster, Whitehall, Fleet Street and the world of business,” tempted the hard copy invitation. What’s not to love? Getting into the Westbourne groove has never been more fun, eating nosh between Nash at Carlton Gardens West, becoming unstuck between stucco, not talking politics with Jacqui Smith, the UK’s first female Home Secretary. “Significant canapés” warned the invite further and sure enough they were devoured with abandon beneath the watchful eyes of clubland: The Reform, Travellers, Athenaeum. Lord James Bethell knows how to throw a party. Lashings of Nicholas Feuillatte helped too. As twilight ended in the garden of the good and the great, Lady Melissa marched the glam troops down the steps to Pall Mall for afterhours fun at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. The band played on.

The After Party © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Min Hogg + The Seaweed Collection of Wallpapers + Fabrics

Finding Material

Min Hogg © 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 Seaweed Collection Wallpapers© 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.

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.”

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.

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 Seaweed Collection Wallpapers© Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Spring Restaurant Somerset House + Skye Gyngell

Summer at Spring

Somerset House The Strand London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

At a Lavender’s Blue dinner with a Park Lane ambassadress, a Green Park restaurateur and a Beverly Hills realtor, the conversation naturally turned to Lisa Vanderpump. But it was the combination of the interior and food – good taste and tastes good – that proved the hot topic in the cool surroundings of Spring. Even if Ruby Wax was within earshot of our table. Spring is the best of the six dining rooms in the people’s palace, Somerset House on the Strand. That’s why it’s full and we’re full on a Monday night.

Somerset House has a surprisingly coherent architecture considering Sir William Chambers’ 1770s masterpiece has been tinkered with ever since he laid the cornerstone. James Wyatt to Sir Robert Smirke then Sir Albert Richardson have all had a go at it. Five wings spread out from the Strand Block like a cyclopean crustacean (crab with nduja and yellow polenta £16 or grilled lobster with curry leaves, tomato and bhatura £34). Spring is in the New Wing. Newness is relative – it was designed by James Pennethorne in 1849. The restaurant is chef Skye Gyngell’s latest enterprise in London. Australian born Skye was previously head chef of Petersham Nurseries, the restaurant with a garden centre attached.

Horses for courses although we’d prefer not for main course (halibut with spinach, chilli and preserved lemon dressing £32) and course after course at Spring is not coarse of course but rather seasonal – and sensational. Crisp but not autumnal (fritto misto of prawns with lemon pinwheels and foraged herbs £16). Cold but not wintry (rhubarb and rye tart with crème fraîche £8). Pantaloon and stripy sweater clad waiters resemble – dare we say – Venetian robbers. Perhaps later they’ll nick a gondola to sail home along the Thames.

Spring Restaurant Somerset House Pudding © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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The Darlings + Crevenagh House Tyrone

Omagh Gosh

Crevenagh House Facade © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Country House No Rescue

Crevenagh House Side © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

At the turn of the 21st century Edenderry Church of Ireland published a short history of its parish in the Diocese of Derry. Or Derry-Londonderry-Derry. The authors were Sue Darling and David Harrow. Back then Mrs Darling was châtelaine of Crevenagh House on the outskirts of Omagh County Tyrone. Not long afterwards she sold the seat and the furniture in it, innit.

Crevenagh House Lawn © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

First Sight

Crevenagh House Column © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Darling Harrow, ‘In 1656, John Corry purchased the manor of Castle Coole from Henry and Gartrid St Leger. His great granddaughter, Sarah Corry, in 1733, married Galbraith Corry, son of Robert Lowry and, about the year 1764, assumed the name Corry in addition to that of Lowry. From this union are descended the Earls of Belmore, and, most if not all, the townlands of the parish passed to the Belmore family. In 1852 and 1853, the following townlands were sold to the Encumbered Estates Court: Arvalee, Aghagallon, Cranny, Crevenagh, Edenderry, Galbally, Garvaghy, Lisahoppin, Recarson and Tattykeel.’

Crevenagh House Stables © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Townland and Country

Crevenagh House Workshop © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

P McAleer in Townland Names of County Tyrone and their Meanings, 1936, writes that Crevenagh means ‘A branchy place’. It still is. Like most Irish townlands, the name has had a few variations: Cravana, Cravanagh, Cravena, Cravnagh, Creevanagh before landing on Crevenagh.

Crevenagh House Fireplace © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Family Album

Crevenagh House Horseshoe © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Crevenagh House was the seat of the Auchinleck family. David Eccles Auchinleck was born on 16 October 1797 and died on 3 March 1849. He was the youngest son of the Reverend Alexander Auchinleck and Jane Eccles of Rossory, County Fermanagh. In the early 19th century David bought land at Crevenagh from Lord Belmont Belmore to build a home. Later he bought more land from the good Lord to build a church, Edenderry Church. Said church was consecrated two years before David’s death.

Crevenagh House Fender © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

The Ghost

Janice Porter © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

On 16 January 1837 David’s eldest son Thomas Auchinleck was born. He married Jane Loxdale from Liverpool. Thomas died on 1 February 1893, leaving Jane a widow at Crevenagh House for the next 24 years. Their son David married Madaline Scott of Dungannon. He was killed in action at Ypres in 1914 while serving with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. His widow stayed with her mother-in-law until she died in 1921 and then on her own until her death in 1948.

Matters of the Heart

On the demise of Mrs Auchinleck (Aunt Mado to all) her nephew Colonel Ralph Darling inherited Crevenagh House. He got hitched to Moira Moriarty of Edenderry. In 1953 the Colonel and Mrs Darling threw a Coronation Party for the young people of Edenderry Parish. Ralph died five years later.

Going Home

Gerald Ralph Auchinleck Darling inherited Crevenagh House from his father. Although he continued his career as a barrister in London, Gerald considered Crevenagh his home, returning there as often as possible. In 1954 he married Susan Hobbs from Perth (nope not Scotland). They had two children, Fiona and Patrick. Gerald retired from London in 1990 six years before his death.

Mixed Blessings

Gerald was a cousin of Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck, 1884 to 1981 (The Auk to all). The Auk was a frequent visitor to Crevenagh House. The Field Marshal is commemorated in Edenderry Church: ‘The plaque, the design of which is identical to the memorial in St Paul’s Cathedral, was erected beside others to members of the Auchinleck family, most of whom were killed in action.’

1 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Fine Things

2 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Crevenagh House is an architectural delight. Pure joy. Tight and bipartite and tripartite and quadripartite windows shimmer against cut stone walls that dramatically darken in the dripping Irish rain. Crimson coloured window frames and doors resemble the red rimmed eyes of an aging beauty peering across an unsettling landscape, weeping as time goes by. The charming formal symmetrical entrance front gives way to quasi symmetrical side elevations before finally wild abandon bleeds across the asymmetrical rear elevation.

3 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Wine Dark Sea of Homer

4 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

A perky pepperpot gatehouse signposts the main entrance to the estate. The house is approached via a gently curving driveway up the hillside. To the left, views of it romantically unfold. Unusually, Crevenagh is twice as deep as it’s wide thanks to one owner ambitiously fattening the size of the original block. Over to Mark Bence-Jones,

5 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Echoes

6 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

‘A two storey house built circa 1820 by D E Auchinleck, great uncle of Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck. Three bay entrance front with Wyatt windows in both storeys and projecting porch. Three bay side with central Wyatt window in both storeys. A slightly lower two storey range was subsequently added by D E Auchinleck’s son, Major Thomas Auchinleck, behind the original block and parallel with it; its end, which has a single storey bow, forming a continuation of the side elevation, to which it is joined by a short single storey link. The principal rooms in the main block have good plasterwork ceilings, and the hall has a mosaic floor depicting the Seven Ages of Man. There are doors made of mahogany from the family plantations in Demerara.’

7 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Middle Temple

8 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Lot 1a Crevenagh House (12.56 acres): ‘A tree lined avenue leads from the public highway to the house which faces south and west over its own grounds. The Georgian house, built circa 1820 for the Auchinlecks, is a fine example of a period residence, set in rolling lawns and woodland. The house has remained in the same family ownership since it was built.

9 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Cinque Ports

10 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

There is a self contained and separately accessed staff or guest accommodation to the rear of the house. To the south of the stable block there is a south facing walled garden of approximately two acres surrounded by a brick wall, stone faced on the exterior. The southern boundary is formed by a pond.’

11 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Lots and Lots

12 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Lot 1(b) Stable Block (0.25 acres): ‘The stables are located within the grounds of Crevenagh House and provide an opportunity to purchase and develop attractive stable buildings and a yard for residential purposes. Planning permission was granted on 26 October 1999 for conversion into three residential units.’

13 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Going Going Gone

14 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Lot 2 Hill Field (9.84 acres): ‘An area of south sloping pasture land divided into two fields. The fields are zoned for housing within Omagh development limits: Omagh Area Plan, 1987 to 2002. A planning application has not been submitted and prospective purchasers should rely on their own inquiries of the Planning Authority.’

15 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Pegasus

16 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Lot 3 Orchard Field (8.92 acres): ‘This area of approximately nine acres lies to the east of Crevenagh House and is bordered by woodland. The south facing lands are not presently allocated for development but there may be longer term potential.’

17 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Until the End of Time

18 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Lot 4 The Holm (9.73 acres): ‘This field, with access from Crevenagh road under the old railway bridge, is bordered by the Drumragh River. The lands are presently used for agricultural and recreational purposes. Parts of this Lot will be affected by the new road throughpass but a portion of the remainder may have some development potential, subject to planning approval.’

19 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Seasons Change

20 Crevenagh House Omagh © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Sir John Soane’s Museum + Lavender’s Blue

Soane Near So Far

Private Keep In! Lavender’s Blue on a private view of Soane’s private apartments. We’re so like hello on model behaviour.

Mrs Soanes Morning Room © Gareth Gardner

  • Photo thanks to Gareth Gardner
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Fu Manchu Clapham + Rosewood Holborn

Opium for Mass | High Street | A Patchwork Quill | Solomon’s Mines

SW London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone 

When King Lud plays chess… Until lately Clapham High Street was lookin’ a tad down at heel, a touch downmarket, a trifle unpalatable. The chattering classes first discovered it in the Nineties. Gnocchi was knocked back and dotcom bubbly guzzled in minimalist restaurants. Consuming consumé against an appreciation of a consummate command of line. That was, until they sniffed out Northcote Road and jumped one mile west and several notches north up the junction | property ladder. Clapham High Street went down the two sewers tubes (both of them). The clattering bells of St Mary’s cloud splicing spire, the only constant. Yummy mummies and faddy daddies retreated to the ‘burbs, tossed with lilacs and red may, blind t’ the unflattering stare of charity façades. Meanwhile multimillionaires’ rows, they became chocca. Now the High Street is doin’ a Blur, having a comeback, a stationary tour. Waitrose? Yep. Byron. Yes. Protest free Foxtons? Yeah. The Dairy and its monosyllabically subtitled menu (Bespoke | Snacks | Garden | Sea | Land | Sweet | Cheese)? Yah.

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come

Fu Manchu Clapham High Street © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Aspire to a cornucopian diet of multi layered Michelin starred musings. Rediscovered Clapham’s gone all Louboutin heel and Saturday farmers’ organic food market and sherry trifle on a plate. Yup. Even the gents have been gentrified. The WC conveniently next to Clapham Common Station’s been sanitised to become Wine & Charcuterie. North London’s got The Ampersand. South London’s got an ampersand. Thankfully there’s still a bit a’ danger lurking ‘neath the railway arches. We’re off to the hard launch of Fu Manchu for some moustachioed mischief and fiendish plotting with Lavender’s Blue new intern, blonde babelicious Bristolian Annabel P. “Life’s a beach. No make that a stage.” Quadruple doctorates aren’t a prerequisite. A lust for life is. We give good party. Fu Manchu attracts shady characters. Yep that’s us, we’re on our way. Time to play bridge and tunnel with our arch enemies in a deadly game of Cluedo. You don’t have to be in Who’s Who to know what’s what. But it helps.

The voice of the turtle is heard in our land

Fu Manchu Clapham North © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Fu Manchu Clapham Launch Night © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Fu Manchu Cocktail Clapham © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Rosewood London Courtyard © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Calum Ducat’s Fu Manchu’s Events Manager. “It’s not a generic venue. When you enter Fu Manchu it’s like your own little world. Clapham’s secret. Las Vegas’ Tao Asian bistro and night club. In SW4.” A rim of light installations by Louisa Smurthwaite, beloved by Alison Goldfrapp and Grace Jones, periodically illuminates the exposed brickwork. In between it’s dark like the tents of Kedar. The tall, lean and feline waiter seductively suggests lovely steamed Tai Chi Bo Coy Gow (£5.80) and baked Wai Fa Chi Mar Har (£4.50) dim sum. What a devious mastermind. “That’s going to happen.” Duty bound we help ourselves to a portion or four. Pure evil. Immortally hypnotic cocktails infused with Chinese essence and Asian flavours as fragrant as Jeffrey Archer’s wife. The Kiss of Death’s (£9.50) liquid rejuvenation, elixir vitae. Pure genius. Mancho’s Mind Control’s (£10.00) peril incarnate. Pure fear. Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices. DJ Andrew Galea takes to the decks. Time to play the Sax Rohmer. Yo. Let’s indulge in some insidious dancing; monopolise the floor, a game of risk, human Jenga, conscious coupling, connect two, crimes of passion and, eh, rumbustious rumblings (trains overhead anyone?), by the watchmen of the walls, under the unhaggard midnight sun. Pure lust.

O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved 

Rosewood Holborn © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

From a Victorian opium den to an Edwardian five star. Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy dinner at the Rosewood Hotel. If it’s not on your radar you need to quickly recalibrate. The hotel’s Holborn Dining Room is where it’s all going on, a macédoine of next seasonness, fashion fastforwardness. A recipe for excess. Forget trays or envelopes or woe betide by hand; bills in books are just so now. Rosewood might be a chain, but more Tiffany than Travelodge. If you could perfume glamour, it’d come up smelling of Rosewood. Money can’t buy dinner with the Right Honourable David Lammy in the Regency Carlton House Terrace (truffle arrancini, kale Caesar salad, asparagus wrapped in grilled courgettes and summer pudding washed down with Laurent Perrier Champers, Châteauneuf du Pape 2005, Mâcon-Lugny Louis Latour 2011 and Château Raymond Lafon Sauternes 2010). Pure gold. 

Arise, our love, our fair one, and come away

Rosewood London © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Strawberry Star + Dorian Beresford + Hoola Royal Victoria Dock

Towering Ambition

Dorian Beresford CEO Strawberry Star © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

On the record over champers and canapés, Dorian Beresford CEO of Strawberry Star, at and on and in his latest development in partnership with HUB. Hoola. It’s a blisteringly hot afternoon down by London’s Royal Docks. Overhead a net of transport modes zigzag across the marine blue sky. London City Airport and Emirates Cable Car dominate either end of the Docks. Hoola is the latest cloudscraper piercing the capital’s skyline.

Millennium Dome © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“We do end to end at Strawberry Star. Funding, acquisition, implementation, development, management and transactions. The whole nine yards! One – that guarantees results. Our market leading results prove that. Two – it allows us to be passionate about service. An independent psychologist’s report exposed 76 percent of people in the UK as a whole and 88 percent in London have had a bad experience with estate agents. Our agency fee is two percent but you decide whether you want to pay the full amount or not. We help our new homeowners get set up with utility companies too.”

Royal Victoria Dock © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“I grew up in New York and also spent some time in Liverpool. Strawberry Star’s offices are in Mayfair. I commute from Oxfordshire. At the start of my working life I trained as a croupier before opening two casinos. Gradually I moved into property. I’ve been CEO of Strawberry Star since November last year.”

Emirates Cable Car © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Hoola Model © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“The catalyst for Royal Victoria Dock taking off was the Canning Town regeneration. That and the Olympics. And now Asia Business Park and Crossrail. Canary Wharf is 10 minutes away; Bank’s 20 minutes. Planning permission has just been granted for the £3.5 billion Silvertown Quays project on 62 acres next to the Royal Docks. It’ll deliver offices, a tech hub and 3,000 new homes. By 2028 the population of this area is set to double – an increase of 103 percent compared to 16 percent for London over all. This area is in transition. You can use the water in the docks. So many sporting opportunities.”

Hoola Royal Victoria Dock © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Hoola is a new gateway to the Royal Docks. HUB’s architects CZWG have designed two towers with a landscaped area by Churchman Landscape Architects in between. The 23 and 24 storey towers stand on a hill – 360 apartments with 360 degree views. Two world class iconic towers.”

Hoola Entrance © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“The carbon footprint of Hoola is really really small. The development is super insulated and is shaded by louvres. Heating and hot water is provided through a shared energy network using surplus heat from the nearby ExCel Exhibition Centre. The wrapped balconies are curved but the rooms are regular shapes. CZWG have planned well spatially. Strawberry Star is fully invested in the scheme. We’re even opening our own retail estate agency on the ground floor. We’ve a real focus on quality. Together with developer HUB we’re bringing Zone 1 style to Zone 3!”

Dorian Beresford Property Developer © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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Morpheus London + The Pavilion St John’s Wood

It Is Cricket

Lord's Cricket Ground © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

In an exclusive preview, Lavender’s Blue tour Morpheus’s latest ultra prime residence. It’s an architectural moment on a roofscape, reimagined for the opening decades of the 21st century. A great swathe of entertainment space lies behind a grand sweep of terrace, a cow shot from Lord’s Cricket Ground. A double hat trick. Side on is a hawk eye view of The Regent’s Park, good for rabbit and ferret spotting. Penthouse doesn’t quite paint the picture. This is about placement. Welcome to The Pavilion, St John’s Wood.

St John's Wood Lord's Cricket Ground © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Alex Isaac is Head of Design at Morpheus. Previously he was Creative Director at Linley and before that he designed yachts. Mega yachts. “Of course Morpheus is highly regarded in the development world,” he commences, “but increasingly we’re also taking on private commissions. We deliver one stop turnkey solutions for refurbishments as well as building new homes. Our development at Pond Place sums up the Morpheus approach to interiors – luxurious, elegant, not intimidating, relaxing, a calm environment.”

St John's Wood Lord's Cricket Ground Finial © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

His experience designing mega yachts for Edmiston and Company is relevant. “The highest levels of design and craftsmanship are essential for yachts. But you only stay on your yacht about six weeks a year so it can be more ostentatious. It’s not your home!” When Jamie Edmiston acquired Linley, he took Alex with him. Alex’s parents are both interior designers. The Morpheus team includes architects, architectural technicians, interior designers and cabinetmakers. “We’ve got a vast database of suppliers,” he confirms. “And we design problems out at the very beginning, while keeping within budget and timescales.”

Morpheus Pavilion Hall @ Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

More on The Pavilion, all 3,600 internal square feet and 1,700 external square feet of it. Two lifts open into a central entrance hall lit by grand chandeliers. “It’s important to invest in fine pieces,” Alex believes, “to spend money where it counts. Sometimes we take inspiration from antiques to produce amazing timeless installations.” Beyond, to the front of the building is that entertainment space. A walnut floored reception area is balanced on one side by a dining room and on the other, a study. “Rather than one traditional desk,” he continues, “the study’s designed for hot desks but it’s still quite formal.” A wall of windows overlooking the 100 foot long terrace could prove distracting for getting any work done.

Morpheus Pavilion Sitting Room @ Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Morpheus Pavilion Dining Room @ Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Morpheus Pavilion Detail @ Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Morpheus Pavilion Bedroom @ Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Namibia white marble corridors of certainty. To the rear of the host building is a quieter zone which includes a cluster of family bedrooms accessed off an inner hall. Marble is complemented by an indulgence of soft materials: velvet, suede, leather and 100 percent hand tied silk carpets. The bedrooms enjoy direct access onto a 60 foot long terrace. The master suite is separately accessed off the entrance hall and also overlooks the rear terrace. A glazed winter garden occupying part of the terrace allows for all year round relaxation. The square cut symmetry of the floorplate is matched by the classic balanced interiors. “We design through the eyes of our clients,” says Alex. “The nature of our work means we approach every commission like The Pavilion in a tailored fashion. This informs the design language to address our clients’ desires, needs and requirements.”

Morpheus Pavilion Bathroom @ Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“I like to bring the detailing out of loose materials, such as pillowcases, and apply it to the architecture as well, to the walls,” he highlights. Style, comfort and technology form the golden trio of successful interiors. Alex notes an increasing desire by clients for long distance control of their homes’ environment: “These days Apple interface is usually requested.”

Morpheus Pavilion En Suite @ Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

“At Morpheus,” Alex concludes, “we’re diverse. We don’t fall into the trap of a house style. Instead, each project takes on its own distinctive style. Projects are informed by choice and use of materials, restraint and patrician dexterity. Clients expect first class comfort as well as distinguished style and the latest technology. That’s what makes up our DNA!” So far, so good innings.

Morpheus Pavilion Winter Garden @ Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

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