Thursday 22 May 2014

Andre Balazs, the Chiltern Firehouse and My Lampshades - From Dorset to London

Way back in August last year I received an e-mail from a design house asking if I was able to make two bespoke woven lampshades for a new London hotel project, they would need to be made to specification and finished by November. I would also need to provide pattern samples for their client and the finished items would need to be finished and available by November.

Hmmmmm I thought,.......have I got time to make moulds and have two matching bespoke pieces of weaving made in the timescale? And do I really want the hassle? Well I fancied the idea/challenge so said yes, I'd love to help. Samples were made and sent off for approval first to the commissioning designers, then the architects and finally the client, which is a bit unusual I thought. My curiosity was up, I had no idea who or what these shades were for and why the secrecy.....

Weaving techniques sample

Then a client asked us if we could supply some whole rattan and woven panelling for a bar front in a new London hotel project. Then someone else asked if we could make dozens of complex woven rush seats for a ceiling feature for, (you've guessed it) a London hotel project. Now I'm more than curious.....

Fortunately the completion deadline for the shades was moved to February which was good because the finalised design was large and complex to weave. Making the shades meet the exact size, shape and RAL colour specifications was indeed a challenge. Each one took virtually a week to make and at times it was hard to explain to the designers why certain things had to be done in a certain way - a moderate compromise would be needed - they knew exactly what they wanted to achieve in terms of looks, but as none weavers the concepts of borders and working with finite lengths of material is a bit tricky to incorporate into a design. For example, when number one shade was finished I asked if they would like the second one to be woven in the same direction or would they like it to be woven opposite so that they would be a "handed" pair and sort of face toward or away from each other. After explanation the decision was to make them "handed".

Well the deed was done and the shades were dispatched to the designers for final approval. I was told that the hotel would be opening sometime in February.

Meanwhile we supplied a quantity of special herringbone woven panelling to a client and passed the contact details of some French weaving friends on to the people that wanted dozens of rush woven seat pads for a ceiling.

I asked the designers if I could possibly have a photo of the lampshades in place and they kindly sent me this:

Chiltern Firehouse Bar Lampshades

Which is great because although I would love to view them "in the flesh" in situ, this is probably the last I will see of them as they now hang in the much lauded and applauded venue for the famous - The Chiltern Firehouse Hotel in Marylebone. Here is the bar front complete with rattan poles and weaving:

Chiltern Firehouse Bar

A lot of hard work but worth it. I'm proud to be a small part of such a creative and ambitious project. From my Dorset workshop to the London land of chic, seems like a long way away to me....... Have a look at what The Times had to say here