Travel | Diary of a Somebody

Anouska Hempel

Grey London is a shock to the designer after the vivid colours of Morocco

Anouska Hempel

February 11 2011
Anouska Hempel

Day: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Back in London. Boring grey drizzle, grey suits, grey slates, grey brains, grey everything – and met at the office door by our wonderful office manager, dressed in a grey cardigan. Grey, grey, grey! Not a good day for someone who was galloping about Morocco yesterday. Life has come to an abrupt halt!

I arrive back to a monumental mess in the office. A consignment of books I ordered in Paris last week, including some special volumes on the work of Alberto Pinto, arrived whilst I was away.

Start the day with a meeting with my managing director. My practice is absolutely rushed off its feet at the moment – working on eight hotels, everywhere from Beirut to Santiago. Over the past few days, we have had requests in to work on two new private residences in Switzerland and Knightsbridge, and new hotels in Riga and Sri Lanka. Will need to work out which of my architects, artisans and designers should work on which job. Needless to say, everyone wants to work on the Morocco project. The only person who can work across everything is me – a big issue working out who should support me.

In the afternoon I turn my attention to a presentation I am giving early next week to the directors of developers Solidere, who have commissioned me to covert Beirut’s iconic Grand Theatre, dating back from the French Mandate era, into Lebanon’s leading hotel. Collaborating with my friend Richard Rogers, we have created an inventive extension to the existing theatre, which sails over the historic auditorium, adding large contemporary guest suites – each with panoramic views of the city or the Lebanon mountains. This is an incredibly serious and exciting project – and a chance to really show the world our latest design ideas.

On Monday’s meeting I will be presenting the design concept for the hotel’s three restaurants, so I’ve converted the upper floor of my studio into a makeshift restaurant. Tables are moaning and groaning with china and cutlery, but trying to create the magic in an office is complicated.

In the early evening I meet with our lawyer to register the name “Anoush de Truffe”, my exciting new restaurant concept opening in London in September (location is a top a secret!). Last night, I ran this idea across the bows of the great gourmet’s son, Jasper Conran, and Tim Gosling (affectionately known as Foie Gras – Goose to those who didn’t get it!) and they all agreed it’s going to be a winner. More about it in the next diary…

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