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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.