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LDF 2015: Somerset House

A new destination this year for the London Design Festival was Somerset House, which showcased a series of exciting exhibitions, installation and events.

LDF 2015 - Somerset House

LDF 2015 – Somerset House

The venue was the home of ‘10 Designers in the West Wing’ – ten different rooms containing interactive and intriguing exhibitions from ten of the design world’s brightest names. A personal favourite was ‘Versatile Alphabeta Lamps’ by Luca Nichetto with Hem, who combined letters of the alphabet to create words and sounds and light displays. The configurable pendant lamps –a nod to Scandinavian minimalism – were composed of various colours and shapes, making each constellation wholly unique and really interesting to watch.

Alphabeta - Hem. Copyright: [LDF]

Alphabeta – Hem. Copyright: [LDF]

Alongside the Alphabeta lamps there was a broad range to see including: Transition; Warm/Wet, The Drawing Room by Faye Toogood, Odyssey and the Connected by Pattern project, from Patternity. The latter was a monochrome explosion of pattern and shape – a real assault on the senses, but a dazzling one nonetheless. Stripes, dots and grid work adorned the space, with visitors invited to use mirrors and viewing holes to fully immerse themselves in the experiences.

Connected by Pattern - Patternity

Connected by Pattern – Patternity

When we ventured further into Somerset House we were able to see an even wider range of London Design Festival projects from #PoweredByTweets: The Challenge, Serif TV and The British Land Celebration of Design Award Winners Exhibition.

Jasper Morrison and Punkt. Copyright: [Punkt]

Jasper Morrison and Punkt. Copyright: [Punkt]

Tech lovers found a new home at Somerset House with the Jasper Morrison and Punkt room, as well as in the #PoweredByTweets space. Punkt launched their no-nonsense M01 Mobile Phone by Jasper Morrison – a back-to-basics, call and text only cell phone that was beautiful in its simplicity. The room itself was delightfully relaxing, offering visitors space to ‘switch off’ and enjoy the graphic art on display. #PoweredByTweets was, by contrast, thoroughly immersive. Curated by Twitter, the exhibition showcased six unique ways that Twitter could change the world. From a pigeon-powered air pollution patrols to a state of the art hospital ward, there were six different ideas as to how the platform could impact – and change for the better – the way we live our lives.

#PoweredByTweets Installation

#PoweredByTweets Installation

Overall this new venue addition to LDF was a great visit and for anyone thinking of attending LDF next year, Somerset House is a must see.

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LDF 2015: 100% Design at Olympia

Now that Earls Court has been all but demolished, this year 100% Design needed to find a brand new home. Thankfully, the organisers of this year’s show didn’t have to travel too far to find one – heading just up the road to the light and airy Kensington Olympia it’s 21st outing as the premier design trade show at the London Design Festival.

100% Design

100% Design

The theme this year was ‘Design in Colour’, and the aesthetic was prevalent throughout the show. From an eye-catching brightly coloured carpet design in the entrance (which we were a little nervous to walk over, if we’re honest), to a contemporary art installation hanging over the main ‘hub’ area, colour was everywhere.

100% Design at Olympia. Copyright: [100% Design]

100% Design at Olympia. Copyright: [100% Design]

Whilst 100% might be seen a primarily a trade-focused show, there was a definite party atmosphere when we attended. With the halls positively buzzing, a DJ was spinning tunes from a platform above the main bar/hub area – which seemed pretty appropriate for the event’s 21st birthday.

100% Design - Ilse Crawford

100% Design – Ilse Crawford


As always, the talks at 100% are always a strong pull, and this year was no different. Topics went back-to-basics and unsurprisingly focused on colour and senses – highlights included ‘What Different Colours Mean Around the World’ as well as ‘How Does Colour Make You Feel’ with architect Mark Dytham and colour psychologist Angela Wright. We just about managed to squeeze into Ilse Crawford’s talk on ‘Design That Engages With The Senses’ in the new-look auditorium space, which this year had gone for an intimate and informal set-up.

100% Design - Designs With Wood

100% Design – Designs With Wood

Highlights for us included the ‘Mattergarden’ on the first floor – an installation and relaxation space intended as a platform for the exploration of contemporary and future materials, as well as treatments and applications for use in design and architecture. Hidden within the space was a lovely little juice bar, filled with fresh ingredients bursting through its crevices.

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LDF 2015: ‘Luxury In A Digital World’ at Decorex

One of the highlights for us at Decorex this year was the panel discussion chaired by Emilio Pimental-Reid on ‘Luxury in a Digital World’. An illuminating talk, speakers included Phil James – MD of Marston and Langinger, interior designers Eric Cohler and Paolo Moschino, Executive Editor of Homes and Gardens Giles Kime, as well as MD of Leapfrogg, Rosie Freshwater.

'Luxury In A Digital World'

‘Luxury In A Digital World’

Here are some of our highlights below:

  • EPR: What is luxury to you?

PM: I don’t think luxury has to be shiny or expensive. Luxury can be a comfort or something which is hard to achieve such as time, time to yourself. I believe that luxury is often what you can remember more than what you can see.

  • EPR: Does luxury have a price?

EC: Yes but I don’t always pay attention to it! I love to mix luxury products with high street – as mentioned earlier, luxury doesn’t have to be expensive. I think luxury is about comfort, it envelopes you and gives you a sense of security.

  • EPR: Are websites good for the industry?

EC: Not always – things which often look sexy on the internet are very different in real life, so consumers have to be careful.

  • EPR: How do you bring luxury to brands?

EC: For Chesney’s I used inspiration from travels, from a Prussian Architect, Schinkel and Sir John Soane – these memories and influences have helped me to create something luxury.

  • EPR: How has the interior design industry changed?

GK: Twenty-seven years ago, House & Garden, Homes & Gardens and The World of Interiors were at the top of the luxury sector, now, however, luxury is illustrated in further publications including Livingetc, Elle Decoration and Wallpaper, to name a few. Whilst print is still a very strong tool in showcasing luxury to the consumer world, online resources can be hugely influential, especially Pinterest, Instagram and design blogs. There is so much choice that these days, the top tier magazine brands have to distil the very best in order to stand out. The internet is very good at putting a gloss on things, so interior designers need to edit the best pieces for the client and offer advice.

Chesney's and Eric Cohler

Chesney’s and Eric Cohler

  • EPR: How does online help to translate the quality of products and can it be a tool for customers wanting inspiration?

PJ: The internet is a great place to showcase products and show the range of products available. It I also a great way for customers to find out about a company before visiting a showroom or store.

RF: I think the internet is a fantastic tool and can be used differently for different brands. The internet is so important at telling amazing stories behind the brands which is not always something a customer would experience by simply visiting the showroom.

EC: I think that online platforms are a really great way of getting ideas out there and making new contacts and potential clients.

RF: The internet draws in new customers to fabulous, inspirational brands, allowing contact through social media which is a personal experience. Abigail Ahern’s blog is brilliant as she gives lots of advice and tips so the reader can really feel like they are getting first-hand expertise.

GK: Lots of people stay away from giving tips online, but at the luxury end people who have money to spend want to be engaged and make informed decisions with confidence – it is an education.

Marston and Langinger - French Lime Paint

Marston and Langinger – French Lime Paint

RF: As a brand it is really important to understand your buyers and where they will spend time online so getting to know them and their habits can be vital; for a business.

PM: Comments online, even negative ones are very helpful – they are a great way for customers to give feedback.

EC: The internet is great for clients to be educated on the project they are getting themselves into and to be able to have as much information at their disposal.

RF: Instagram is great for customers to get to know the personalities behind the brand, it will contribute to their overall views about a company. Social media will always draw in a younger customer base as well. Another great tool for companies to use online is personalising emails. An email recognising that a customer has not visited the website for a while or with a tailored offer will make them feel valued.

GK: Paolo Moschino does not do a hard sell online but what he does do brilliantly is create mystery and allure through his Instagram posts. Paolo shows personality and character which is very important for developing relationships and becoming an inspirational designer.

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The Design Museum: Designs Of The Year and Life On Foot

Now that we’ve finally settled into our new offices on Leathermarket Street, we’ve been taking advantage of our new location and have been exploring our new locale.

As fans of our blog might have realised by now, we’re huge fans of the Design Museum in Shad Thames. With myriad exhibitions throughout the year, it seems that there’s always something new and thought-provoking to muse over for an afternoon.

Life on Foot

And luckily for us – it’s now right on our doorstep! (Well, for the time being at least, before it heads off to Kensington next year…)

Last week, we strolled over to sneak a peek at two exhibitions currently on show there: Life on Foot and Designs of the Year. Life on Foot was, perhaps not surprisingly, all about shoes – the design of them and how it has transformed into an art. The exhibition was specifically about the shoe company ‘Camper’ and the journey it’s had as a brand. It also included elements about walking and how humans walk less now than we did in the past. Moreover, it explored how we now have to actually have to use digital technology to encourage us to walk enough each day!

Life On Foot

On the other hand, Designs of the Year was all about the most innovative designs of 2015, which included everything from chairs to the latest in digital technology. We got to see a prototype of the new self-driving car made by Google, as well as a new type of kettle – basically a metal rod that uses conduction to heat the water; all you need to do is pop it in the cup of water you want to heat!


Now that we’re no longer separated by 40 mins on the District Line, you can expect to see us at the Design Museum all the time now – if not for the exhibitions, then to sample the excellent array of cakes in the cafe!

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Carol Bove – The Plastic Unit

Since she started exhibiting in the late 1990s, Carol Bove’s work has been the exciting subject of several solo exhibitions. Known for her unusual installations and sculptures, Carol Bove is a New York City-based artist and collector who lives and works in Brooklyn. We thought it would be an absolute must for our calendar to visit her first exhibition at the beautiful Mayfair Townhouse gallery David Zwirner, London, The Plastic Unit.

Carol Bove Exhibition

The exhibition proposes graceful sculptures and installations involving minimalistic white lines that crash with rugged natural wood as well as other natural materials such as shells and feathers. The juxtaposition between the man-made industrial materials with those found in nature encourage and promote wider interpretations to be extracted from the subtle installations.

Carol Bove Exhibition


The work below, Mussel Shell (2014) presents industrial materials in a delicately controlled way that lift the peacock feather and seashell to the key focal point.

Carol Bove Exhibition


Bove is known for her peacock covered canvases, ceilings and walls. The amount of feathers intricately arranged allows the teals, blues and greens to flow as if they were one shiny coat.

Carol Bove Exhibition

When leaving the beautiful 24 Grafton Street we felt truly inspired by Bove’s fresh and intriguing creations. Let’s hope it’s not long before her next visit to London!

Carol Bove: The Plastic Unit, David Zwirner, 24 Grafton Street, London, W1S 4EZ.

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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

The name Alexander McQueen holds a powerful and influential weight in the world of fashion.

Alexander McQueen at The V&A
Savage Beauty’, currently on show at The V&A is a detailed and intricate journey into the creative mind of this couture genius. From the first room in the exhibition you can immediately sense that McQueen’s designs were not your usual high-street fashion finds with swathes of fabric on many of the jackets which would have made it almost impossible to wear in everyday life and certainly only fit for models on the runway, but each one had a strong sense of romanticism and drama to them.

Alexander McQueen at The V&A - Display
The second room hits you like a strong drink as you are surrounded by mirrored walls with embellished gold boarders and tall mannequins with fierce looking head-dresses and masks wearing ensembles which can only be descried as ‘Gothic Horror’. The haunting sound design only adds to the nightmarish horrors of the displays around you. As you look around the room, you get the sense that this was where the exhibition name came from – Savage Beauty – leather, studs, sequins, feather, chiffon and silk all in deep black layers and swathes whilst threatening, are all extraordinary works of art. Studded black leather shoes and boots all with six or seven inches of thick high heel only added to the darkness and drama of the collection. One mannequin covered from head to toe in deep black feathers with large wings struck me as being a resemblance to the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart in the classical ballet, Swan Lake.

Alexander McQueen, Savage Beauty
It is not all grim and surreal though, as you leave the shadowy ‘world of Hades’ and arrive in a brightly lit room displaying McQueen’s famous wool tartan creations to one side with scarlet dresses fit for a queen on the other. The dress made famous by actress Sarah Jessica-Parker is on display along with a selection of wool tartan, silk, net, lace, tulle and leather creations. Scarlet Disney queen-style dresses are rich with feathers, gold, silk and velvet – the ultimate in luxurious high-end couture. Gold embellished head-dresses add a regal element to this striking display.

Copyright: [RPA]

Copyright: [RPA]

Perhaps the most intense and thrillingdisplay throughout the exhibition is the ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. A room so full of accessories, clothed mannequins and videos showing iconic McQueen catwalk shows, it is impossible not to leave awestruck and inspired. You got the sense that you were inside McQueen’s mind in this room, a world of colour, texture, adventure and cutting-edge fashion. Despite the fact that the room was full of others vying to get the best view of the exhibition, there was definitely an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ feeling, in the sense that you felt like you had travelled into another world and were all alone surrounded by weird and wonderful things.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty is an exciting and thrilling exhibition. As far as couture and cutting-edge fashion goes, this is a perfect example. McQueen was clearly a very talented but troubled man, yet the legacy he has created through his designs means he will forever be considered as one of the leaders in British Fashion Industry.

The exhibition runs until 2nd August 2015.

Laura Stafford-Deitsch

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Women, Fashion, Power At The Design Museum

Fashion retrospectives and exhibitions are ten-a-penny in London at the moment, and with so many high-profile names being bandied about (Alexander McQueen, anyone?) some of the smaller, more intimate exhibitions can get forgotten about. However, there’s one exhibition that we were dying to get to, and that’s the ‘Women Fashion Power’ show which was on at The Design Museum in Shad Thames.

The Design Museum, Shad Thames

Described by it’s curator, Donna Loveday, as a ‘celebration of exceptional women’, Women Fashion Power uses the changing fashions of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries to tell the story of women’s role in society. It looks at how over several decades women were able to smash the proverbial glass ceiling and begin to take public positions of power and influence – but not without a struggle, one which, as we all know, continues today.

Taking over the first floor of the museum, the exhibition space is relatively small in size, yet is able to tell a great deal through carefully selected pieces, many of which have been personally donated by prominent women from the art, political, fashion and business worlds. Interspersed amongst these donations are a variety of stories and accounts given by women from all walks of life on their relationship with fashion, how they use the clothes they wear to project a specific and controlled image of themselves. This is all positioned alongside video content and other relevant artefacts of interest; including influential fashion photography from the past 100 years, copies of important fashion publications – including the very first issue of Harper’s Bazaar, for example –  as well as catalogues, paparazzi photography and even the odd album sleeve.

It is, however, the donated pieces and their accompanying stories that dominate the exhibition. Luminaries such as Shami Chakrabati, Princess Diana, Camila Batmanghelidjh, Anna Jones, Lady Gaga and Angela Merkel – to name just a few – all donated items from their wardrobes and wrote about their own relationship with fashion, and how much (or how little) it mattered to them. Simple dresses from high-street stores are shown alongside clean, utilitarian suits and juxtaposed against flamboyant and mind-boggling pieces from designers such as Gareth Pugh – all highlighting the uniqueness and variety of the women who wear them.

Women Fashion Power at The Design Museum

Some have argued that the exhibition itself is patronising to women – reducing the discourse on women’s emancipation to an exploration of the artifice that surrounds them – and the inclusion of certain women in the exhibition has caused controversy. HSH Charlene of Monaco’s donation within the gallery of dresses caused some consternation – with many questioning whether this minor royal has any real role apart from a ‘decorative one’, thus demeaning the concept of the exhibition. Furthermore, the inclusion of one of Margaret Thatcher’s suits is accompanied by a video of the former Prime Minister being interviewed about the importance of her navy blue outfits – one has to wonder whether David Cameron’s wardrobe would be subject to the same scrutiny as hers.

Problematic as these examples are, they simply remind the visitor to question their notions of what power really is, and especially how it relates to women. Yes – women aren’t pushed and bound into the suffocating Victorian corsets that one is confronted with at the start of the exhibition – but perhaps the true emancipation of female power is still being constrained and contorted in far more subtle ways, by demeaning and patronising attitudes that fail to see a world where femininity and authority can coexist. Furthermore, the exhibition as a whole further proves how we use design – in all it’s myriad forms – to tell stories about ourselves, who we are, and who we want to be.

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Latest News: ‘Then and Now’ – Celebrating 50 Years of the London College of Furniture

15 HR16The Cass Logo_2

To celebrate 50 years since the opening of the London College of Furniture, The Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design have opened their doors and are welcoming the public to view their treasured design archive.

We popped along to explore the collection of not only beautifully crafted furniture, but musical instruments, toys and furnishing fabrics designed by both student and lecturer alumni, including the infamous Robin Day, Ernest Race and William Warren. 

William Warren Chair

The exhibition gives an exclusive view into the rarely seen Frederik Parker Archive, including an intricate sign from the original Frederik Parker & Sons shop. An alumni of the college, Frederik Park went on to co- found renowned furniture company Parker Knoll in 1869.

Signage from the original Frederik Parker & Sons shop

Frederik Parker Chair Archive

Frederik Parker Chair Archive

Frederik Parker Chair Archive 

With chairs lining the walls from floor to ceiling, we were encouraged to walk amongst the collections of tools, archive documents and photographs dotted throughout the room, showing us an insight into the hugely talented students who have studied at the college over the past 50 years.

Archive Documents

There’s still time to visit! The exhibition runs until the 23rd January with free entry at The Cass, London Metropolitan University, 42 – 47 Commercial Road, London, E1 1LA.

Opening hours: 10am – 6pm (Mon – Fri) 11am – 4pm (Sat)

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Grayson Perry – Who Are You?

comfort blanket section_topLogoNational-Portrait-Gallery

Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry has curved his direction and turned his attention to portraiture and British identity at his current show of new works.

We were directed to meander the first floor, seeking out the fourteen portraits displaying a variety of personalities, groups and families. All installed in the National Portrait Gallery’s nineteenth and twentieth century rooms, these works of art include a young female-to-male transsexual, Northern Ireland Loyalist marchers, politician Chris Huhne and 2012 X-Factor contestant Rylan Clark – quite the assortment of characters!

Presented in a variety of mediums, the fourteen pieces focus on the themes of personality and identity in modern day Britain. Not straying from his best known medium, a number of the pieces were fashioned in ceramics, a craft Perry has perfected over the last 30 years. The remaining portraits were bought to life through bold tapestries and statement sculptures.

Comfort Blanket Tapestry

The tapestry, entitled Comfort Blanket, is portrait of Britain to “wrap yourself up in”. A giant banknote full of things we love and also love to hate, the arrangement is based on a British £10 note with the Queen reigning over the image, illustrated as if she were “your auntie”, says Perry.

“Comfort Blanket inspiration….

‘A friend whose family had walked out of Hungary fleeing the Soviets in 1956 said her mother referred to Britain as her ‘security blanket’. As their plane came in to land in the UK the tanoy relayed a message from the Queen saying ‘Welcome to Britain you are now in a safe country’.

People still come to our country for its stability, safety and rule of law. We should be proud of that.” – Grayson Perry

Britain is Best

Line of Departure

A Map of Days

Melanie, Georgina & Sarah

The Ashford Hijab

The Deaf

The Earl of Essex

Idealised Hetrosexual Couple

I Am A Man

The pieces were created during the making of Grayson Perry: Who Are You? – A recent Channel 4 documentary series that shadows Perry as he spends time with all sorts of different people who are struggling to find their own identity.

There’s still time to visit this must see exhibition! Grayson Perry’s Who Are You? Continues until 15 March 2015 at the National Portrait Gallery.

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LDF 2014 | Riba Regent Street Windows Project

RibaRegent BananaRepublic (800x533)RibaRegent Brooks Brothers (800x533)RibaRegent Gant (800x533)

Riba Regent Street, Hillgate PRSurely the aim of any shop window is to stand out? To entice, inspire and ultimately make the passer by look twice. Who better then, to achieve this than some of Britain’s most cutting edge architects?

This is the idea behind the Riba Regent Street Windows Project, now in its fifth year and this September showcasing some of the projects most stunning concepts yet. The Royal Institute of British Architects once again matched 15 leading architects with 15 of London’s most iconic stores, to create a three week installation in collaboration with London Design Festival.

Reaching across London’s Regent Street, Heddon Street and Brewer Street, involving prestigious retailers such as Topshop, Aquascutum and Longchamp, and architects such as Squire and Partners and vPPR Architects, the installation was a breathtaking display of how retail and architecture are so closely intertwined in today’s society, where the visual message is of utmost importance to any brand.

Of course it was a display that we couldn’t afford to miss here at Hillgate PR and below are some snapshots from our favourite window designs. To see all of the windows in one, head over to our Instagram account for a Flipagram of the experience.

Riba Regent Street Project 2014, Hillgate PRGant

Brooks brothers LDF, Hillgate PRBrooks Brothers

Folli Follie LDF 2014, Hillgate PRFolli Follie

Regent Street LDF Project, Hillgate PRPenhaligons

Aquascutum LDF Window Display, Hillgate PRAquascutum

Longchamp LDF Window, Hillgate PRLongchamp

Riba Regent Street Karen Millen, Hillgate PRKaren Millen

Which display is your favourite?

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