House & Garden | Diary of a Somebody

Francis Sultana

The designer on old-fashioned practices and old-school creation

Francis Sultana

October 14 2011
Francis Sultana

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

The day has started well, and after such an eventful day yesterday the schedule has a more regular pace (during the day at least!).

This morning the team and I sit down together to work on the schedules and progress of all the projects. I need to design more pieces, so I make a list and will find the time this weekend. Every piece of furniture I design I still draw and paint in watercolour, which I think keeps the romance in designing – I keep them all in Hermès leather-bound books as they are all so precious to me. Of course the office is amused by such old-fashioned practices as everything they do is on computers, but I will never have the patience to learn how they do their designs in 3-D and it will remain a mystery to me. Once everyone is back at their desks, I take some time to get my “scrap book” up to date in which I cut things from magazines, stick any particularly lovely invites, thank-you notes and letters that I want to keep, as well as photos from events. It’s a kind of collage of my life and ideas and I try to update it once a week.

At lunchtime I drive through Hyde Park and meet with Madam K and David Gill to discuss some of the most fabulous Mattia Bonetti pieces being created for Madam’s new apartment. I have known these two mentors for 20 years and they have been instrumental in my development. The furniture will be incredible, as Mattia is a genius and one of my favourite furniture designers of all time. Madam K is both the muse and patron, and this is truly old-school creating, which I know will result in historical work that I am fortunate to be a part of.

The evening starts early and first I make my way to a small show at the Sphinx Gallery in Kensington Church Street to see the work of my friend (an artist at the beginning of her career), Adeline de Monseignat, who has created some lovely surrealist sculpture, a movement in the arts that I will always love. After this I make a visit to a bathroom showroom’s opening, which is not my normal kind of event – but then this is no normal bathroom showroom. It has been designed by my favourite architect, Zaha Hadid, who is resplendent in one of her signature evening coats, and after we greet, I look around, only to be blown away by the amazing interior architecture. I see the great design collector Julien Treiger and we discuss how strong and sophisticated Zaha’s creation is – totally unexpected, brilliant!

My third visit of the evening is to the opening of Super Design (it’s great to be getting in some design this evening, after all the art) at The Old Dairy in WC2, which is full of young designers and has a great creative atmosphere. I am really impressed with the dynamics of the event, and when I see Nigel Coates (of the RCA) we chat about how strong this young design emerging in London is, at the same time admiring a rather surreal chandelier he has created for the show from Murano pieces. I fall madly for a glass chaise longue by designer Brodie Neill, and upon meeting him praise him for creating such a great piece. I leave in a mad rush to get to dinner in time and as I make a dash to my car I spot Nina of the Nilufar gallery in Milan, and we exchange on how fantastic this show is.

I have already decided this morning that I cannot face another grand dinner, and am so pleased when I arrive at George and sit down with three of my dearest friends in the comfortable, relaxing environment within. We digest the week’s events over some delicious roast chicken; it is just the tonic needed this evening, what with so much art and design to talk about – and plenty more to catch up on.

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