Kit Kemp:the style secrets of a famous hotelier and interior designer

Kit Kemp’s latest London hotel is a regular celeb haunt. An interior designer by trade and a passionate collector she thinks we should respect our British artists more and shares her insider tips on where to discover great finds in the city....

Kit Kemp has been splashing colour on to London’s hotel scene for the past 30 years. Her Firmdale Hotels portfolio, co-founded with her property developer husband, includes the Soho, Charlotte Street and Covent Garden Hotels, as well as Ham Yard in Soho, now a regular haunt for film premieres and theatre after-parties.

An interior designer by trade, she is a passionate collector and all her hotels display art, craft and design commissions. She says a good hotel throughout “should have a sense of arrival and adventure”.

WHERE I LIVE

My home is in Kensington, which makes it slap-bang in the centre of London, yet I have so much greenery on my doorstep: Hyde Park to Green Park to St James’s Park. We have a double-fronted Thirties house that we bought 15 years ago. It’s quite a carefree home. I get teased that I am a cluttered minimalist. There are fabrics everywhere and colour makes me feel happy.

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Collector: Kit Kemp covets one of Lynne Chadwick’s bronze candlesticks


WHAT I COLLECT

I love painter Juliette Losq. Her artworks are created from collages of photos taken in the suburbs of London. I also love the work of artist Morag Ballard, Anna Raymond’s textile prints and the paintings of Breon O’Casey. We should respect our British artists more.

MY FAVOURITE SHOP

In Camden Passage, Caroline Carrier’s tiny shop, Number One, does vintage English porcelain and Wedgwood, and hideously fabulous old ornaments. It’s like the best cupboard you’ve ever opened.

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Favourite shop: Caroline Carrier’s little vintage shop in Camden Passage


 

FAVOURITE MAKERS

I discovered Hermione Skye O’Hea at her graduate show at Chelsea College of Arts. She has since been doing loom artwork for us, including one over the reception desk at Ham Yard. And Daniel Reynolds at Pullens Yard does ceramics, mobiles and candelabra.

FAVOURITE FABRICS

London’s markets have got touristy. I prefer to go to people like Susan Deliss who travels to Turkey, Egypt and Morocco and collects wonderful old and new silk ikats, embroideries, kilims, velvets and linens.

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Bespoke fabrics: Kit Kemp prefers Susan Deliss to “touristy” market finds


SECRET LUXURY

Walking to work down Exhibition Road, which has been redesigned boulevard-style, and past Imperial College, the V&A and the Natural History Museum, and the French community shops in South Kensington with lovely delis and tasty cheese shops.

MOST COVETED DESIGN OBJECT

A Lynn Chadwick bronze candlestick. We borrowed it from Willer in W8 for a shot in my new book but had to return it.

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Good work: Kit Kemp admires Fine Cell’s prisoner-produced needlework


HOMEWARE TIP

I really admire Fine Cell Work, a charity that teaches male prisoners to be skilled in needlework. They asked me to design some new products for them, so we’ve come up with a headboard and a footstool, a mirror and a lamp shade.

  • Kit Kemp’s Every Room Tells A Story is published by Hardie Grant, £30.

 

 


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