When Anouska Hempel opened Blakes Hotel in 1978, it redefined the notion of a boutique hotel and her style has since been much copied. For there, in a hitherto not-very-smart part of London, was an almost outrageous glamour, its rooms swathed in complex layers of black and gold with touches of eastern voluptuousness and a basement dining room that seemed like a magician’s den, full of mystery and surprise.
Much of the magic was conjured by Hempel’s use of black lacquer, which she harnessed last year to create a small series of pieces that exhibit her eclectic taste and fascination with Asian design. The screens, which filter light and create the illusion of “a further dimension, a half-glimpsed space, the mystery of a room beyond”, are perhaps the most intriguing. The beech Asia Minor screen (£6,200) swings on its frame and can come with vertical or horizontal slats.
There’s also a set of five exceedingly elegant chairs, designed to slot chicly into any space. One (£1,700) has a strikingly geometric back, while the other four (each £1,350) follow a simpler design and come with two armrests, just a right or left, or none at all. And finally there are two lamps – the Yardstick table lamp (£970) and floor lamp (£1,170) – each with black shades and slim, bamboo-like stems.
This is just the beginning. A wonderful collection of tableware – glassware, huge ceramic platters and the like – is in the pipeline.