Although this past year has had its many challenges, so much good has come out of it. Kamala Harris became the first female, first black, first south-Asian US Vice President, Northern Ireland celebrated its first same sex marriage ceremonies and Nigella Lawson taught us the proper way of pronouncing ‘microwave’…the gift that keeps on giving.
As a female led design team, we are always inspired by strong women. Throughout our hotels, you will find homages to women who are a source of inspiration, women we are privileged to work, and extraordinary women that form part of our own community…
1. Vanessa Bell
An undeniably never-ending stream of inspiration, Vanessa Bell’s work has influenced many of our design choices over the years. Our Charlotte Street Hotel is entirely influenced by the Omega Workshops, a design collective of the most avant-garde artists of the day, including Vanessa Bell.
Vanessa Bell’s portraits and other oil works can be found hanging in our Drawing Room and Library. It is such a joy to be up close to her work in a living space, rather than a sterile and serious art gallery. One can sit back and admire the works surrounded by cosy upholstery and wood panelled walling.
2. Carla Kranendonk
Carla’s powerful and detailed artwork can be found throughout our hotels. Her multimedia pieces are created with paint and collage, depicting strong and vibrant women. We are often mesmerised by the intricacy of the beadwork on a handbag or the pattern on a headscarf.
The shoes, which are often featured in her works, are intricately embellished with beads and embroidery and evoke the prospect of a journey, independence and freedom. Kranendonk’s proud women are elevated by the colour and beauty of their surroundings.
3. Eileen Cooper
Described as bringing an ‘unapologetic female aspect to her media’ and a ‘magic realist’, Eileen’s Coopers work is wonderfully expressive and we have worked with her closely over the years.
Figures dancing, swimming, embracing, her joyful works are so visually striking and couldn’t feel more at home with us.
These monochromatic pieces in the Araminta Room at The Whitby Hotel are particularly outstanding. This series, called Wildwood, depicts Diana, the Roman goddess of hunting who turns a man into a stag, and Daphne, who transforms into a laurel tree to escape the unwanted advances of Apollo.
Eileen Cooper became a Royal Academician in 2001 and became the first woman in history to serve as Keeper of the Royal Academy in 2010.
4. Soho Hotel Goddess
Standing unapologetically flamboyantly in our Drawing Room at The Soho Hotel, our Aphrodite bronze sculpture by Breon O’Casey is everything empowering about the female form.
We placed our Breon O’Casey Aphrodite sculpture right in the centre of the room, and it’s almost as if she’s greeting you in all her voluptuousness as you enter the room.
It doesn’t get much more powerful than the Queen, who can be found in different pockets of our designs. Her world-renowned style is again a huge source of inspiration from us, from fantastic hats to block colours, we couldn’t choose a more motivating muse.
In Knightsbridge Hotel’s Drawing Room, four miniature ladies stand on the fireplace mantle, all with rather fantastic hats and dresses.
Althea Wilson created these miniature mannequins for us. I loved it when they were delivered as she had been inspired to give each one a little hat as well. These, and the full-size custom-covered mannequins, which have become a signature detail in every bedroom of our hotels, lend another decorative, sculptural element to a room.
7. Frida Kahlo
A Queen within her own right, Frida Kahlo symbolises hope and power, and these striking artworks inspired by her depicts her striking face-on pose, one with little expression and yet famously speaks a thousand words.
8. Aye Aye Sailor
Wherever possible we love to hand draw our designs to give them a wonderfully unique feel that is so important within design. Our Sailor’s Farewell collection depicts a lyrical seascape scene of a sailor’s wife waving him off with her handkerchief as he journeys on his voyage. Whilst it is the Sailor’s adventures we are taken on, she is rightly the star of this show.
9. The Classics
Perhaps nameless, yet not in any way overlooked, various classic portraits and paintings hang around our hotels with strong looking women peering out at you from their frames.
As with any art, the history of the works is what we love most. The idea of these being hung in homes and buildings of generations past immediately creates an even more mighty story to them.
10. The Ham Yard Gals
Oh how we miss meeting friends for coffee, lunch and supper. That wonderful feeling of sitting with your closest friends and whiling away the hours over delicious food and putting the world to right. These two colourful ladies remind us those times will come again – and we will never take them for granted!