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Bird Watching at Firmdale Hotels

When we design a space, we tend not to think of birds. In the hotel industry, an age old superstition is the use of bird motifs is said to bring bad luck. It’s one of those little things we say now and again when choosing fabrics. But even though we often think birds aren’t a feature in our designs, we can’t help but let a few of them take flight and land in our schemes. In fact, when you take another look and start to do a little bird watching, they seem to be a regular guest at our hotels and a welcome feature in our residential projects.

Here is a round up with some beautiful examples of birds imagined by the Kit Kemp Design Studio…


We are forever on the hunt for creative lighting. From beaded designs to beautifully carved lamp bases. This Yoruba lamp that we have used in many of our residential and hotel projects features an array of birds including at the very top above the lampshade. Made from replica Yoruba shaman hats, the bird traditionally symbolised the shamans ability to cross into the spiritual world.

Our Rockin’ Robin collection for Porta Romana is such a whimsical design available in exciting colours and a chic plain white. We designed this collection during lockdown so in hindsight it seems quite fitting that a Robin signifies hope and ‘good things to come’. Each design has a branch-like frame, softened with organic twine, accompanied by a beautifully crafted funky robin and a glorious warm glowing egg. It’s our way of bringing the outside in.

This parrot light sits pride of place on the reception desk at The Whitby Hotel. Curating your space with vintage and antique oddities and curiosities such as this really brings things to life. Our beaded parrot greets all our guests arriving to stay at our Midtown hotel.

One of our favourite lighting designers Margit Wittig crafted these dove lights that we just couldn’t resist. The dove is a motif we love to use and Wittig’s use of materials and her stylish, simple design is so striking. We topped this one with Molly Mahon’s Oak Leaf fabric as a little nod to birds living in the trees.

Object and Art

For centuries birds have proven to be a wonderful source of inspiration for artists. Here are some of our favourites we have used lately.

We love these wooden cut out artworks – these handsome cockerels mirroring one and other make such a graphic statement.

Our famous brass and copper Sergio Bustamante parrots hanging in The Whitby Hotel will always be a firm favourite of mine. They hang within the ‘branches’ of our custom Brasserie chandeliers.

This lovely folkloric collage artwork by Mimi, recently hung in Bergdorf Goodman, depicts a statuesque woman covered in pretty white birds. It’s just so charming and a wonderful example of craft.

In our Library at Number Sixteen, one of our more unusual pieces of art leaps off the wall. This 3D work by Jack Milroy features hand-cut pictures of birds individually perching on the pages of books.


Some of our most loved fabrics include bird motifs, even if they aren’t immediately obvious. Sometimes you have to do a little exploring in the fabric repeat.

This Chelsea Textiles fabric has so many beautiful tropical birds, the detail seen in the embroidery is quite something.

This beautiful floral headboard is an abundant depiction of the natural world and seemingly an exclusively floral print.

Take another glance and this elegant painterly pheasant is there, giving you a cheeky side eye as he ruffles his feathers.

This dove motif is a timeless favourite by our design team and we often use these little cut outs on the back of chairs to add a pop of interest and as something to catch your eye.

Kit Kemp Designs

Birds are often a feature in my own designs, taking a perch in fabrics, wallpapers and cushions.

For one of our most recent residential projects we created this glorious scene inspired by the palaces of China, principally seen in the 1750s to 1850s. The rich colours, ornate florals and branches are peppered with cheerful birds that gaze at you with one cheeky eye.

If you take a close look at our Mythical Creatures fabric designs, birds are among the many magical beasties found in this tree of life design.

If you want to add a little flurry of birds to your home, my Chelsea Textiles Wee Beasties Birds cushion depicts a dancing line of exotic birds captured in earth tones and a muted palette. These four birds prance across the cushion in positions inspired by the choreography of a Diaghilev ballet. They are ceremonial, stately, yet fragile.

We hope you’ll join us in some bird watching of your own next time you’re out and about. Like us, I’m sure you’ll be surprised as to what you might find peeking back at you!

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