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Our Lucky Charm: The Mannequin


Mannequins have been around since the fifteenth century, where wealthy customers would send fashion dolls, known as a ‘milliner’s mannequin’ to dressmakers to copy the current trends.

Here at the Kit Kemp Design Studio we have taken this concept and made it our own. This proud female figure stands in each of our individually designed rooms.

The form encapsulates aspects of the scheme around it, an example of the tailoring that goes into each design. It has become a recognised symbol of Firmdale Hotels and we’ve even incorporated it as our logo.

When it comes to designing the bedrooms, we like to dress our mannequins in various ways according to the scheme. When we have a bold headboard fabric, we often repeat this on the mannequin bust. We centre the most interesting part of the fabric repeat as we have done here in Covent Garden Hotel’s room 305. Jim Thompson’s tropical print ‘Heliconia Dreamin’ stands out against the soft green wallpaper by Soane.

In room 502 at Knightsbridge Hotel, we have used our ‘Tea Leaf’ fabric for Christopher Farr. This fresh design is repeated throughout the space to tie the scheme together.

The mannequin stands against Penny Morrison’s ‘Vasari’ in blue and orange on the window wall. This creates an unusual combination of fabrics of different scales which are tied together by the colour scheme.

Alternatively, we often like to make the mannequin stand out by using a contrast fabric as we’ve done here at Charlotte Street Hotel. The sofa and mannequin are both upholstered in a bold, monochrome pattern called ‘Tulu’ by George Spencer, which works well as a striking contrast to the colourful florals.

In this pink and green bedroom at Ham Yard Hotel, we used two fabrics on the mannequin. The top half is a repetition of the headboard fabric which is in our ‘Hedgerow Cerise’ design for Andrew Martin and the bottom half echoes the fabric by Carolina Irving used on the end-of-bed-stool.

This brings the room together and helps the scheme flow. A bright pink braid around the mannequin’s waist makes her stand out and adds a touch of drama. We love to use Samuel & Son’s fun wiggle braid called ‘Rik Rak’.

In Haymarket Hotel’s Suffolk Suite, we have used three different fabrics on our mannequin. The solid green wool which borders the headboard has been used for the back of the mannequin. This helps it pop out against the patterned walling.

In this room at The Soho Hotel, we have used this wonderful vibrant ‘Melusine’ fabric by Jim Thompson on the headboard, sofa cushions and mannequin creating a rhythmic flow. We adore this fabric – it reminds us of a Monet painting. The tape around the waist of the mannequin works perfectly. It is like a funky high waisted belt picking out the orange accents in the fabric.

In the drawing room at Knightsbridge Hotel, four miniature mannequins stand pride of place on the mantelpiece. For us, they are our lucky charms guiding us through this challenging time.

We absolutely love our mannequins – they are so unexpected and sculptural. By upholstering something which is ordinarily utilitarian in a colourful fabric, the object is celebrated beyond its original functionality.

If you would like to add a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to your room, you can pick up a mannequin of your own from Shop Kit Kemp. We recommend placing one by your front door, so when you come home, she is waiting to take your hat and coat!

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