November 15 2011
My husband Tim arrived back from Australia very early this morning. He’s glad to be home, but he was struck by the low light levels here compared to what he’s just experienced in the antipodes; he says it’s as if we have a lid in the sky blocking out the sunshine.
I decided to wear my new colourful Ralph Lauren skirt today which looks just like a loose weave knitted rug. I have already managed to attach it to various drawer handles and paper clips in the office. It doesn’t help that we are all currently squashed into one tiny design office, waiting for the move into our new building in Golden Square in Soho. The small space is intensifying the already heated discussion we are having about who is going where, what colours to paint the walls, carpet the floors, what is the best shelf and cupboard detailing. There is also much debate about the interiors for the building’s fabulous penthouse floor.
I am currently working on an embroidered fabric collection for Chelsea Textiles, the mother-and-daughter team Mona and Jenny Perlhagen with whom I’ve been working for many years, of exquisite hand-embroidered fabrics for our various hotels. There are several designs, including one with a flower and a happy face at its centre. This in itself isn’t a problem, but the colours aren’t working – we want them to zing and clash a bit more. Willow, my second daughter, who studied architecture, is drawing witty motifs for another fabric and Anna, a member of my design team, is fine-tuning the design before our meeting tomorrow with Jenny and Mona.
We recently bought back Dorset Square Hotel. It was the first boutique hotel in our group, opened originally in 1985. We sold it eight years ago but when the opportunity arose to buy it back, we jumped. So now we are looking at the concepts for the restaurant and drawing room. There is an exciting new wallpaper design we are doing with Hamilton Weston, and some hand-woven carpets from Portugal in the mix as well. This is one part of the design process I love the most – collaborating with experts in their field, creating something totally new and unique. We plan to reopen in May 2012.
Tiffany, my eldest daughter, is here for the day. She hates cities and will rush back to our home in the New Forest at the first opportunity. She is working at Save the Children, but would like to start a dog-grooming business – there are even courses at colleges teaching this nowadays. She has bought a house which was an old inn and is allowing me to suggest colours and completely change the layout. I don’t mind the smell of wet dog; in fact we chose our original architect because he sat with one on his lap all the way to London in happy silence. But I will have to bear muddy footprints in mind as I choose fabrics for the house.
A bus nearly ran me over as I went for lunch in South Kensington. There is a ritzy new piazza and a new traffic system which is foxing us all. Note to self: no daydreaming while walking in future.