New wallpapers, insightful exhibitions and exciting design collaborations – Minnie Kemp distils what is inspiring her this month
Minnie Kemp shares the things that inspired her this month
Crispy crimson sycamore leaves with mustard-yellow English oak, chestnut smooth brown and homemade crab apple vodka suggestively winking at you through glass in the kitchen corner. It’s the naughty season; the only tinsel I can abide is glued – sassy and safe – into my hair after a trip to Stevie Snips at Salon64 on Bateman Street. Yes, you will need to get layered up, that crispy bite doesn’t relent even if your hair does glitter like a unicorn.
Outside the Box is a new wallpaper created by design duo Porter Teleo in a process that involves richly layering pigmented inks in various stages of opacity. Who can we thank for keeping us toasty, wrapped up in this wonderful wallcovering? Asteré is a new collaborative that works directly with artists to create panelled murals available by the roll for your home. It is a collective adventure under the Élitis brand, whose experimental, innovative and out-there designs have always made our walls twinkle. The Parisian architect Garance Vallée is also set to be involved and one thing is for sure in 2021, my walls are going to be suited and booted in her natural hues and zingy extraterrestrial vibes.
Times are tough and Christmas will be different this year, especially with Gran’s head levitating on Zoom at the end of the table. Reconnect your mind, body and spirit by learning a new skill at a Curious House workshop with Philippa King – a homemade present or card is always more meaningful and you get to spend the day in Ticehurst at The Bell, where the higgledy-piggledy brick walls date back to 1296. I would stay the night if I were you; all the food is sourced locally, there is sparkling wine from East Sussex and scrumptious ales traditionally made at the nearby Cellar Head brewery.
Try volunteering at the St Cuthbert’s Centre in Earl’s Court. This isn’t just about providing quality food for the homeless; the place is designed with an aesthetic in mind. Gothic bay windows painted in olive green hues overlook communal tables that now adhere to social-distancing rules. There are transparent views into the kitchen making the whole experience feel symbiotic. Plenty of light floods into the double-height room and for a special touch I made some linen tablecloths with hand-stitched embroidery that will be used this festive season. Chef Massimo Bottura makes the meals with 100% surplus food provided by The Felix Project.
I have also been impressed by the community arts studio Art Matters. Pairing up with the mental-health charity Richmond Fellowship, it aims to connect communities and provide pathways to recovery. One can support the initiative by being a volunteer, attending studio visits or becoming a friend. I popped over to the studio last week and bought framed embroidery On Safari by Molly Verity. Such a perfect gift, but I can’t bring myself to actually do the giving part. Whoops.
In Victorian Britain postmen were nicknamed ‘robins’ because of the vibrant red colour of their uniforms. The Kit Kemp design studio and Porta Romana have recently collaborated on the Funky Robin collection and if I was mayor for the day I would insist that members of our postal service upgrade to something a bit more jazzy. Glowing porcelain eggs dancing off swinging painted branches are guaranteed to bring harmony and balance to any room. The Sleepy Robin is perfect as a bedside lamp and would make a brilliant gift for anyone who needs an ambient atmosphere to curl up and escape into a book. Speaking of all creatures great and small, A Guinea Pig Night Before Christmas is a hilarious, one-of-a-kind book created by decorative artist and set designer Tess Newall. A real masterpiece, each scene has been carefully stitched and painted by Tess and, WOW, never have I ever seen such illustrious furry friends. Talk about hair envy.
“Experimental and out-there designs always make our walls twinkle”