House & Garden | Diary of a Somebody

Rabih Hage

There’s been an exciting new little arrival in the family

Rabih Hage

June 09 2011
Rabih Hage

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Today we had a first presentation for another very nice client of ours, Teena. She arrived at the meeting, as always, on time and very elegant, with the most beautiful natural tan soft Kelly bag that I have ever seen. There is something about Hermès workmanship and style that projects sophistication and splendour. I have always thought that the values of Hermès should be extended into furniture and home interiors. Now Hermès has done it. They have collaborated with many specialists (that I also work with, by the way) to source the best quality materials and craftsmanship and build their furniture collection that was launched in Milan during the Milan Furniture Fair (Salone del Mobile) this April.

Their collection is magnificent, including a re-edition of Jean-Michel Frank armchairs and a sofa that was designed 90 years ago by Frank and upholstered with Hermès leather. I think this exquisite luxury brand will have great success in its new home collection, and many luxury brands will follow suit. What would be good, though (like Hermès has also done) would be to commission true contemporary designs from product designers and make the best of the creative minds and production methods of our time. I am up for it, of course.

Teena was happy with our layouts and designs. We have transformed the whole house layout with not too much demolition, keeping the essence of the building and adding a lift.

Lifts in private homes are becoming a good trend. I think it is useful to have one in a townhouse. The only problem with lifts is finding a company that can make them to measure to be able to fit in a London house. It is very tricky to install a standard lift shaft and cabin in an existing property.

The French are good at that. In Paris properties, all staircases are not too small with a void in the middle big enough for a small suspended cabin. Also, grannies stay in their flats for longer than the grandchildren can wait for the héritage. I am going to contact my old friends from Roux Combaluzier, the original elevator manufacturers of the Eiffel Tower lifts fitted in 1897. This company has been bought by Schindler in 1969.

While we are talking about old technology revived, I wanted to mention the new addition to our family, a Mini inspired by the British, built by the Germans, and it is a marvel. After 12 years of not owning a car, and therefore off-setting my carbon footprint, I have decided to buy a small automatic Mini. (Yes, automatic; I am getting lazy and prefer to concentrate on driving on the left-hand side of the road and not shifting gears in record time.)

I have always been fascinated by mechanics and motors, and owned a few since my first 50cc small Garelli motorbike at the age of 11, to a thousand times bigger engines with Mercs, Jags and Bimmers 20 years later. Yes, like many youngsters: bigger is better… but things change.

Somehow, over the past decade, I took it easy in London, using black cabs and Streetcars. For a city like London one does not usually need more. However, with the children’s activities increasing at the weekends (and their parents’ friends having ever bigger cars to take them to tennis matches), it made sense to finally own a car.

I do enjoy driving this little machine in and out of Chelsea which is a big adventure for the children, and a reminder of my earlier years when I used to think that a car was an extension of one’s body. Not any more. Driving in and through London, like most cities, should be for necessities and not pleasure.

I am sorry to have taken you on a bizarre journey today which was not related at all to what I have really done this day, as I thought drawing and sketching all day long is not really very exciting. The latter is what I have done all day long after my meeting with Teena, until it was time to heat up the engine of the Mini for a short adventure outside Chelsea: to the wild and mysterious world of… Pimlico for a shawarma.

See also