Firmdale Hotels are not only home to our guests; they are enchantingly inhabited by all sorts of creatures great and small.
I love all animals both real and imaginary. We often introduce clever little creatures into our rooms as they bring a whimsical and playful side to our designs.
Perhaps our most loved creatures are the mythical ones. First designed to be hand embroidered on to a fabric by Chelsea Textiles, I knew these romantic and fascinating creatures would be the perfect companions to our tea and dinner service with Wedgwood.
The design features fish, fowl and four-legged creatures, borne solely from the imagination, joyfully making their way through the Tree of Life in all their finery and colours.
These mysterious, mythical creatures have worked their way onto fabrics, headboards, bed cushions and even wallpapers. For my collection for Anthropologie, a pair of winged white rhinos are at home on a boiled-wool-upholstered club chair, alongside wiry monkeys, inspired by Ghanaian Asafo art.
In my collection for Fine Cell Work, playful creatures inspired by mythical tales appear with a Tree of Life on an embroidered headboard. Fine Cell Work is a fantastic charity which teaches prisoners skills including embroidery, quilting and tapestry to prisoners, which encourages them to lead more independent lives.
In Room 109 at Charlotte Street Hotel, the walls are surrounded by birds, mythical creatures, towering trees and rolling hills fading into the distance.
Melissa White is an incredibly accomplished artist, whose specialty is Elizabethan canvas painting. We asked Melissa to create a mural on the double height 13-foot high walls. Melissa set to work and painted a unique scene that transformed the room completely. An array of imaginative creatures can be found if you look closely through the foliage and tall trees of the fanciful ‘Tall Trees’ wallpaper.
On my travels I often stumble across other endearing figures which I can’t resist but add to the Firmdale family. An assortment of wooden animals can be found in the Orangery at Ham Yard; a pair of wooden leopards guard the Terrace Suite at The Soho Hotel and a twosome of driftwood crocodiles climb the discotheque butterfly covered walls by Christian Lacroix in the Croc Bar at the Ham Yard Hotel.
While some of creatures are cleverly hidden in our designs, some are the talk of the town, namely our beloved over-sized cats by Colombian sculptor, Fernanda Botero.
At The Soho Hotel, as soon as you enter the front door, you’re immediately confronted by the 10-foot-tall bronze Botero cat sculpture. It’s so large that the lobby had to be built around him in all his grandness. Over in New York we have Crosby the Cat, a 12-foot bronze sculpture. Botero makes god size sculptures not life size which have a magical feel about them.
These magical animals are most definitely mythical and folkloric in nature. Hotels so often feel cellophane wrapped and these whimsical creatures pique the curiosity, delight all the senses in an adventurous and colourful way, and make visiting or staying with us wonderful in every sense.
Next time you come to stay at our hotels we encourage you to seek out these friendly characters.