Let me entertain you
The young designer helping to celebrate the Royal Academy’s 250th anniversary
THE ROYAL ACADEMY has long had a reputation for throwing a good party: its annual Summer Exhibition preview is one of the most glamorous events in London’s social calendar. And as the institution marks its 250th anniversary, a new merchandise collection, available next month, will tap into its hosting heritage with a range of products aimed at entertaining.
To produce it, the Academy has collaborated with Luke Edward Hall, a young artist and designer with a classical aesthetic, who has taken the interiors world by storm over the past couple of years. Having started out working with the architect and designer Ben Pentreath, Hall struck out on his own in 2015, and has since worked with companies including Burberry and Christie’s, completed private interior-design projects and produced his own range of prints, ceramics and fabrics. And all by the age of 28.
Here, Hall was briefed to focus on the RA’S place in London society, and the personalities who have frequented its parties and dining rooms. His research involved delving into the Academy’s archives to examine original event invitations, dinner menus, wine labels and other ephemera – something of a dream for a self-confessed typography nut.
‘I loved looking through the old menus in particular,’ he says. ‘They were absolutely beautiful – all these delicate little pieces of card; most were embossed, engraved or edged in gold. They were just so wonderfully elegant. Plus, of course, the menus themselves were fascinating to read.’
The resulting illustrations, which reinterpret motifs in Hall’s playful style, have been applied to bottles, ceramic tableware produced in Staffordshire, napkins and glasses, candles and gold-embossed stationery, along with hostess gifts. His favourite products from the collection are, however, the Coates & Seely sparkling wine and East London Liquor Company gin, whose bottles are labelled with his designs. ‘It’s been really exciting for me to work with such an iconic London institution that I’ve loved for many years as a visitor,’ he says of the RA. ‘And I must say, a gin with my own label will be quite a fun thing to own.’ shop.royalacademy.org.uk