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Our Designer Nichola recently visited the Speed & Style exhibition at the V&A – a fascinating exploration of the feats of engineering, high design and intrinsic glamour of transatlantic travel in its heyday.

The exhibition showcases some of the spectacular interiors created with no expense spared for the design-conscious, first class passengers on board, their sophistication and opulence worlds away from today’s cruise ships.

These interiors were beautifully decorated in the style of their period, most prominently Art Nouveau and Art Deco, employing highest quality materials and craftsmanship.

Accommodation on the First Class decks included ornate wood panelling, hand painted murals and superb bespoke textiles and carpets such as this 100% wool rug and section of carpet created for the Queen Mary by Glasgow company James Templeton and Company for the Stateroom and Drawing Room.  These carpets were created in-house and made to the highest specification.

Bespoke Textiles.

Children’s chair from the first-class playroom on French ship the Normandie.

Opulent doors and panelling (circa1912) from the France, the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique’s largest ship.


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Dale Chihuly at Kew

One of London’s must-see exhibitions this year has to be the showcase of contemporary glass artist Dale Chihuly‘s installations and artworks at Kew Gardens.

Seattle based Chihuly, is world renowned for his epic works in glass, creating larger than life structures as well as more domestic scale vases and objects in myriad colours and textures using a mix of ancient techniques and modern innovation.

Here in the UK one of his best-known works is the vast blue and green Rotunda Chandelier at the V&A.

Chihuly’s breath taking and riotously colourful glass sculptures and forms create a joyous trail through the gardens, interplaying with trees and planting to create different vistas and dramatic vignettes.

The not to be missed stand-alone exhibition of Chihuly’s smaller works at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art, features his working drawings and dramatic forms based on sea shells or vases with intricate surface work based on ancient native American techniques together with botanically inspired, gravity defying, stretched glass sculptures and organic forms.

Chihuly no longer blows the glass himself but orchestrates ever more dramatic and epic creations, describing himself as more ‘choreographer than dancer’.

One of his largest projects was a vast installation of glass work at Jerusalem’s Citadel in 2000, which is detailed in a short documentary as part of the Kew exhibition.

In the Temperate House gems abound with several chandeliers, dramatic works hidden in the foliage, alien-like spears shooting out of the planting and bulbous masses nestling in flower beds, boats and ponds.

Outside, highlights include an incredible selection of multi-coloured glass spheres in the Japanese Zen garden, vibrant glass rods shooting out of tulip and fruit tree-filled meadows and the startling forms of floral or celestial inspired sculptures.

Kew is the perfect setting for these exceptional pieces and this exhibition, which runs until late October 2019, is well worth your time.